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Rob Pincus will be on Fox News’s On the Hunt program today from 12:00p to 1:00p eastern talking about firearms rights and responsibilities.

I see lots of people talking about rights these days, but not so much discussion about our responsibilities as firearms owners. Similarly, I hear lots of people talking about how are rights should not be “infringed”, yet we accept infringements like background checks, getting permits to carry, restrictions on fully automatic and suppressed firearms. The gun debate going on in our country right now is very polarizing. I think we could move further in the direction that we want to go by adding a couple bullet points to the dialogue . . .

1.   We’re already “infringed.” Gun owners in this country already live under a number of restrictions, policies, procedures and laws that infringe on our right to keep and bear arms. We’re already in a Middle Ground when it comes to gun control. Guns are very controlled in this country already. Acknowledging that for the Anti-gunners and, more importantly, for those in the middle ground on this debate, is probably important.

2. Gun Rights come with Responsibilities. The next time you are talking with someone about your Rights as a gun owner, you should also mention the fact that you acknowledge your Responsibilities as a gun owner. I understand that The Constitution doesn’t say “Our right to Keep and Bear Arms comes with Responsibilities….”, but it is true none-the-less. You have the right to have a firearm for defense of self, family and country. You also have the responsibility to learn how to use it safely and store it responsibly. Mentioning the latter as frequently as you mention the former might go a long way to let those, at least those in the middle ground, feel a bit more comfortable with things as they are and a bit less likely to believe the rantings of the anti-gunners in regard to guns being used against owners, ending up in the hands of the deranged or that infamous network TV demonstration that “proved” gun owners can’t actually act to protect themselves.

Circling the wagons and digging in our heels in defense of our rights is exactly what we need to be doing. We also need to be taking any opportunity we have to engage in rational discussions with people who might not be on our side. It is easy to just sit inside that wagon circle with our fellow patriots and tell ourselves that “they” won’t listen. It is easy to cast aspersions on TV Show Hosts and Radical Politicians and convince ourselves that we need to be as extreme as they are because they’ll “never change their mind”.

In truth, there are tens of millions of American Citizens who are in the middle ground looking for real answers. Those reasonable, rational people who make up the voting public should be hearing more than rhetoric and  seeing that American Gun Owners are reasonable, rational people who understand the significant responsibilities that come with gun ownership and already suffer under significant restrictions. I fear that letting the extremists control the dialogue is a loss for us. If there are just a bunch of crazy people yelling at each other and making no sense, I might get the feeling that I don’t want them to have guns either. If the average American gets to that point, the crazies on the anti-gun side win.


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    • +1

      I feel all special that he capitalizes the first letter of each word in “American Gun Owners”

      I do the same thing. 😀

      It’s not just a flippant description, it’s a proper noun which represents a vast majority of us. We are a class of citizen that is constantly being attacked by those who seek to rid the country of us.

  1. Great comments, Rob. I agree that often as gun owners we can forget to mention the extensive amount of education and training that should come with firearms ownership (even if only by reading the manuals and learning the manual-of-arms of our firearms) when talking with people of an anti-gun disposition.

  2. First off, I have and use a safe. 2 actually. But if someone breaks into and steals your car and then lead the police on a 100 mph chase thru a city resulting in death and destruction, who’s at fault? Certainly not the car owner.

    Regardless of how we store our guns if someone breaks in and steals them how are we at fault. Do we accept that it’s our faults for simply owning the guns? In this argument we’re always on the defensive. And that gives the anti’s a little more leverage against us.

    • I can answer that question pretty easily. If someone breaks into your gun safe and steals your gun, then you are not responsible for what happens.

      If you own a safe but don’t use it, then when someone steals your gun, it is pretty much your fault. (I am using “you” in the collective sense, here, sorry.)

      If someone tries to cover up their recklessness by claiming the gun was stolen from a safe, then they are part of the problem. I own a pretty good safe. A neighborhood kid with a crowbar is not going to be able to get anything out of that safe without power tools.

      • No dave, if someone breaks into your house you are not responsible no matter how you store your gun. finding guilt and blame in the homeowner for simply owning a gun is one more step to banning guns.

        • Maybe it is just my opinion, but if a gun owner does not accept any responsibility for safe storage, then they are being irresponsible.

          Accept some responsibility for your own actions. Otherwise you are just another absent parent waiting for society to come and take care of you and your kids.

      • Because blaming the victim makes sense in so many other cases, we should blame gun owners if their guns get stolen. Instead of blaming good citizens, put the blame where it belongs, on the lowlife who violated someone’s home.

      • I agree with LBD. I feel safes should be mandatory, yet I do not want it to be a legislative prerequisite. I do not believe in trigger locks, or chamber locks as they only keep you out when you loose the key, pros can open them faster than you can with the key.

        As far as gun control goes: Try this video essay on the history of what follows civilian disarmament.
        It only fills a purpose to disarm the general population if you have a nefarious goal.

        • I keep my firearms stored safely all on my own. I do not need to be told by laws that it is madatory. Furthermore, people need to have the flexibility to have actual access to a firearm in the event of an emergency.

          I live in a rough neighborhood. When the door flies open in the middle of the night the safe is the last f*cking place I need a rifle or handgun to be. As a free citizen I have the right to use discretion regarding how I may stage or position a particular arm or arms.

          Thanks but no thanks. If I leave guns laying around negligently and a kid (or cleaning lady or whoever is lawfully permitted to be there) plays with it and has a negligent discharge then fine. Charge me. That is MY fault. If a CRIMINAL enters my home without permission and gains access to the firearm then that is THEIR fault. Punish them accordingly.

          I swear some of you folks have completely lost sight of the spirit of the law. Laws should exist to punish bad people who do bad things, not to entrap normal people into becoming criminals.

      • Horsepucky.

        If I want the AR15 either in my safe or hanging over the fireplace, it’s my business.

      • Dave, do you keep all of the knives in your house locked in a safe? If not, should you be held responsible if someone takes one of those knives and kills someone with it?

        When it comes to guns or anything else I have, I will keep them anywhere I see fit in my home and no law is ever going to change that.

        • Gen4: I didn’t say that the law is going to stop you, I just said that responsible gun owners don’t leave their guns laying around the house. If someone comes to visit with an autistic child, I do, in fact, keep a child lock on the knife drawer.

          The government does not make me do this, nor does the law hold me responsible. The whole point of responsibility is that I do it without being forced.

      • So if they broke in to your LOCKED house and stole your kitchen knifes, and then stabbed someone with said knife, you would want the homeowner held responsible for that too I guess!

        What part of breaking and entering don’t you understand?

        When, in your fantasy world does the perp accept the blame for their actions?

        Sorry gen4n9 I must have been typing while you were posting!!!

        • Taurus,

          I never said that criminals shouldn’t be held responsible, I just said that gun owners also have responsibilities. As people have pointed out on this board hundreds of times, criminals aren’t going to stop their behavior just because there is a law against it.

          There is a reason why we have the phrase: “Responsible gun owner.”

  3. I would champion rational discussion particularly because facts and logic favor firearms owners, but everyone with whom I have EVER brought up the subject is either an enthusiastic owner themselves or absolutely convinced that proximity to a firearm of any kind turns anyone and everyone into a homicidal maniac (unless they’re in a military or law enforcement uniform).

  4. In the last week I’ve had a discussion about the “assault weapons” ban with two different friends, one a non-gun-owner, the other a shotgunner only. Both are intelligent people, but not that familiar with the variety of firearms that are available. Both sincerely thought that what Feinstein was proposing banning were full-auto weapons and that such a ban was reasonable. Once they understood the truth, both tended to come around to my side. When my shotgunner friend understood what was being claimed as an “assault weapon”, his response was “Well, that works just like my shotgun, it’s not right to ban that!” I think we sometime underestimate how well the misinformation campaign of the gun control advocates has worked in misleading honest, intelligent people. Mr. Pincus makes some very good points.

  5. I’m going to have to disagree with Pincus here. I’ve yet to see any gun control freak offer anything in return. Their definition of compromise is we give and they take. Is it good to be responsible? Yes. Is responsibility already the law? Yes. If I fire randomly into the air or wave a gun around while drunk, I’m in for trouble. If I shoot someone accidentally, regardless of what the prosecutor does, there’s going to be a plaintiff’s attorney waiting to slap me with a civil suit. Saying that you favor gun owners using safes will gain no ground with the gun control side. They’ll just want more tomorrow. This is war. Any ground given up is ground lost.

    • I agree. Further regarding the statement, “I fear that letting the extremists control the dialogue is a loss for us.”, when someone on our side refers to some of us as “extremists”, you’ve given the anti’s a win. How can supporting one of the most important of constitutional amendments ever be considered extreme?

    • I agree completely. No compromise and no quarter.

      I am consistently told that I must baby gun owners who voted for politicians who are now trying to reduce my rights and liberties. While I am a libertarian and believe that ALL rights/liberties are important and sacred, I am always faced with the choice of either voting third party or choosing guns and spending over civil liberties (not rights, as there is a difference between a right and a liberty) such as gay marriage and freedom of choice. When pushed, I will ALWAYS default to supporting the armed citizenry because that is just more important than those other social issues.

      To democrats, big government republicans and statists in general:

      As long as you oppose the armed citizenry I will ALWAYS oppose you with my votes despite the things your side sometimes gets right.

        • I am reasonable every single day. BTW, I love your work.

          As long as “reasonableness” does not mean legislation in any way shape or form, then we are on the same page.

  6. Absolutely. We also bear responsibility for our firearms in the sense that if we screw up, we will be punished and have to make the situation right again. It is a huge responsibility. That is why the Wild West situation that some have envisioned hasn’t happened, and it won’t happen, and we need to make sure that it doesn’t happen by recognizing and accepting that responsibility.

  7. I’ve often wondered why “responsible gun owner” advocates don’t demand that High School students must demonstrate a proficiency with firearms before they can graduate and take on adult responsibilities.

  8. “In truth, there are tens of millions of American Citizens who are in the middle ground looking for real answers. Those reasonable, rational people who make up the voting public should be hearing more than rhetoric and seeing that American Gun Owners are reasonable, rational people who understand the significant responsibilities that come with gun ownership and already suffer under significant restrictions. I fear that letting the extremists control the dialogue is a loss for us. If there are just a bunch of crazy people yelling at each other and making no sense, I might get the feeling that I don’t want them to have guns either. If the average American gets to that point, the crazies on the anti-gun side win.”

    Rob Pincus is awesome. That should be the mission of every responsible gun owner – to find and convince the large majority of people who are the “middle ground.”

    • +1337

      We can do this without compromising on our principles. So much of this is knowing how to deliver our message in ways that the gun-ignorant can grasp.

      Perhaps equally important is understanding this: acknowledging our responsibilities in ways that make the gun-ignorant feel safe is NOT the same as giving ground, because then we can then define the terms of discussion and guide them to reasonable conclusions.

  9. Just as we acknowledge the responsibility required to drive a car safely, we acknowledge the responsibility that comes with the territory of owning firearms. To my mind, it seems that the vast majority of gun owners accept and honor that responsibility to the highest degree. We take great pride in securing them correctly, cleaning and maintaining them, training to use them effectively, and knowing, legally-speaking, when it is acceptable to use them. All of this talk about banning certain types of firearms and magazine capacity limits is misdirected, because we all own them for DEFENDING ourselves, our families, and (admittedly less importantly) our property. No gun owner i’ve ever known has spoken even once about using their weapons in an offensive, or “attacking” role. The Constitution ensures that every American can have the ability to defend themselves. I have heard several times “well, do you HAVE to defend yourself with a gun?” and the answer is not always yes. Personally, as a former college athlete, I feel I can handle just about anyone who doesnt have a gun. BUT, if a five foot tall, 120 lb guy comes knocking with a gun and i dont have one, my 6’2″ 250 lb ass is in trouble. so, to account for any threat that i might (but hopefully never will) face, YES, a firearm really is my best option for personal defense. I know that I, and other gun owners, are willing to put in the work in order to be able to adequately defend ourselves.

  10. I think this is spot on, and could provide a tool for advancing the cause of gun rights more broadly in society. Gun owners should be at the front of pushing for effective, apolitical gun safety education and secure storage best practices. To the extent such efforts are resisted by the antis this is a great time to ask them why they refuse to allow kids to learn how to safely be around (never mind use) firearms.

    Same thing with educating journalists, most of whom don’t know squat about guns and it shows. By increasing the amount of factual knowledge out there and demystifying guns a lot of people in the middle will at least become more skeptical of the grabbers’ arguments, if not pro gun.

  11. @ OK S: Really? You’ve “…often wondered…” about this? For one, our schools would be jam-packed with students who’d fail this test (and never graduate). Don’t get me wrong, I’m always hopeful for our future, but what I see prevalent in today’s youth is selfishness, irresponsibility, and disrespect. Additionally, “firearm proficiency” is not the metric by which to measure a person’s ability to “…take on adult responsibilities”. C’mon, does that really make any sense? I get your point, but your argument is flawed.

    … or were you just being ironical?

    Regardless, your post caught my eye, and I’d be interested in reading why you’ve often wondered this.

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