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The other day, as I was leaving the office, someone asked me if I was going to go blow up more stuff. Before that, I was invited to take six of my female coworkers shooting. I don’t know the first thing about teaching noobs to shoot. I leave that to professionals. And my parents are constantly asking what cool guns I’ll be reviewing next. In short, people have started to pigeonhole me as a gun guy. That makes me uncomfortable, for two reasons. First, I do other things. I’m a food guy, a motorcycle guy, a beard guy, an airplane guy, and an outdoors guy. Second, I consider the gun guy thing a liability . . .

I hope and pray each day that my guns never get used to do anything but ping steel, shred paper and put meat on the table. I hope you feel the same. However, we all know that guy at the gun shop or range who proudly proclaims that he’d be the first to kill somebody if they tried to harm him. He pats his side and dares anybody to mug him. By God, he’s got shotguns in every room of his house. Just try to break in!

One day, that guy might end up actually getting his wish. And once the shock wears off, he can STFU all he wants with the cops post shooting, but he’s going to get crucified in a civil case with the perp’s family.

Mom will get up and cry and talk about how her baby boy was an angel. The perp’s PO will talk about how he was really turning things around. And the final nail in the coffin will be the gun guy’s coworkers and associates. They will take the stand and talk about what a deranged psycho that guy was. How he was basically just waiting to shoot somebody.

True or not, that’s the picture that is going to get painted.

Some of you will think I’m paranoid. Fair enough. Advice is like a penny at the gas station. Take it or leave it. So here’s mine: be a gun guy. But also be an other things guy. Guns are fun, and you can spend your entire life dedicated to being involved with guns and never scratch the surface. But it is easy to get a bit myopic. Pick up another habit for no other reason than to keep up the appearance of not being a crazy gun guy. Even if you are.

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  1. +1 for those who are non-LEO’s or Heavy competition shooters. (former two groups are going to be pigeonholed anyway). But I think that taking up crocheting for purposes of making a gun pillow is not helping your case. 😉

    • Catching has nothing to do with fishing. You are “Fishing” not “Catching”. You are a Fisherman, not a Catcherman. Same with hunting.

      BTW, I’m the world’s greatest Fisher, but a lousy Catcher.

          • Well played, sir!

            I was referring to the fact that I’ll often walk out on the dock behind my apartment and throw lazy casts just to be outside and enjoy the weather while my dog runs around.

            • The is a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore with a stick in your hand looking like an idiot.

    • Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day.

      Teach a man to fish, and he’ll spend all his time on the dock drinking beer…

  2. I live in Arizona and we have a law on the book which shields individuals who have been exonerated of wrong doing in a defensive shooting from being sued in a civil suit, a shield law per se.

    • Texas does as well


      CPRC § 83.001. CIVIL IMMUNITY. A defendant who uses force or deadly force that is justified under Chapter 9, Penal Code, is immune from civil liability for personal injury or death that results from the defendant’s use of force or deadly force, as applicable.

    • As does Pennsylvania. I’m perplexed. How can someone be a devoted and able writer for a gun-oriented web site, yet not want to be labelled a “gun guy”? It is true that having earned that moniker, you need to be “a nice level-headed guy” everywhere else in your life. That shouldn’t be so difficult. People who are loud, routinely insult people, and make every conversation a polemic… do well to be known for another hobby, such as knitting or anti-2A activism…

    • When NC HB-650 went into effect last December 1st, North Carolina joined the ranks of states providing legal cover from civil suits in many defensive use of force situations.

    • I think this article is more for states like CA and NY. We don’t have shield laws, just lots of civil liability and liberals. God help us.

  3. A hobby that takes up all your time is no longer a hobby, it’s an obsession. I don’t know any true guns nuts. The guys and gals I go shooting with enjoy getting together once a month or so and just burning powder.

    I have a place out in the sticks I can shoot with my friends, so I have also become a go-to guy for gun stuff. I try to answer questions and encourage interest and do so without condescension. If someone asks me to teach them the basics I always agree, unless of course they aren’t ready. I figure I would rather they get disinterested advice from me than get a sales pitch from (or sneered at by) some dude in a gun shop.

    Also, as someone who spends every day working alone on rather exacting projects, I find the relative simplicity and easy comradery of shooting a welcome break. When I talk to most folks about my profession they start getting fidgety, as if I started reading them poetry. Guns are fun to talk to people about and they provide an easy connection to people with which I would ordinarily have little in common.

    • I have a beard. I like my beard. I encourage people to consider a beard. Call me an evangelist.

        • 2 “Beard • a person who pretends to have a romantic or sexual relationship with someone else in order to conceal the other’s true sexual orientation.” First, I was unaware of that definition. Second, ah the lesbian fantasy. Third, well I guess shooting is a broad term, so I’ll lay off the “relevant content” critique.

          • Not sure where you got the definition, but it’s a little unclear.

            A “beard” is someone who pretends to be someone’s partner to cover for the companion’s real (usually adulterous) relationship with someone else.

            It’s a convenient ruse for events where the two illicit lovers are in public together.

            As for the sexual orientation(s) of those involved, it’s potentially extremely confusing.

            One common variation: a gay man (the beard) squiring a single woman to appear at an event with the woman’s married lover. Whether or not the wife knows the beard is gay is . . . irrelevant? Dunno.

            In my case, I was/am a straight guy being the beard for a drop-dead gorgeous woman having an affair with a prominent politician.

            Clear? Clear!

  4. Expect to see printouts of posts from websites like TTAG. They won’t need to ask RF for them, they’ll find them out on their own. If you have substantial assets you not only need to protect them now but after a DGU.

  5. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with teaching someone which end of the gun to point downrange, the four rules, and letting them knock off a few rounds under your attentive supervision. You can do all that and still make it clear they should do their research and take a class from a pro if they really want to get into shooting. I think a lot of people have learned to get over their fear of firearms that way, who would never have signed up and paid $150 or more for a class just to see what it was all about.

  6. Charles said he doesn’t know any true gun nuts, I guess he means guys who are obsessed with guns to the exception of all else. I find that hard to believe, unless he’s going to do some semantic nit-picking.

    Many people are into guns to the point that it’s an unhealthy obsession. We’ve all known them. The post itself is addressed to them.

    And good advice it is, Tyler.

    • Congrats to Mike for realizing that there are some people out there that take things to the extreme. Flashlight illumination, drag racing, drag, extreme condom swallowing, ball kicking, soccer, football, baseball, ball gag… need I go on?

      Congrats Mikey. Your cookie is on my counter.

    • “Charles said he doesn’t know any true gun nuts, I guess he means guys who are obsessed with guns to the exception of all else. I find that hard to believe, unless he’s going to do some semantic nit-picking.”

      Well, I know OF you Mike, but I wouldn’t say I know you as a friend.

      But if your ever in my neck of the woods I’ll take you shooting.

  7. I agree with the article. A good read and some sage tips. People have to meet you halfway though. My family is great about it. My parents tell no one about my guns. They have the common sense to know that guns are not to be talked about when the whole reason the person is wearing one is the hope that he/she will not have to use one.

    I don’t talk about them around most people. My friends I shoot with or some buddies that I think that can offer me some decent advice on a purchase, sure. But those folk have the common sense to not go around blabbing about a gun.

    I think immaturity and novelty are a lot of reasons for some people not being able to shut up about their guns. They are so gung ho about it that they think that anyone around them gives a crap. Most people who are not into guns want to hear nothing about them. A lot of the time it is because of ignorance or stupidity but this generates fear nonetheless. I actually had a pastors son (in his mid-20’s) yell across a full church that I liked guns. To no one we were talking to in particular. He just thought that his buddy across the room should know. A quick scolding and the use of the term disabled corrected his attitude. Oddly enough I didn’t own one at the time and had just gone to the range with a friend the day before. News worthy? No, but some noobs think it so.

    Long to short, yes, shut up. Get over it. You have guns. So does everyone else.

  8. I had the same concern with a number of hobbies, so I kept the “gun thing” under wraps for a good long while. Lately, though, it has become considerably more socially acceptable. I find that the only people who generally care are those who have an interest themselves, and are looking for a way to further that interest.

    For every negative reaction I’ve had, there’s probably a good dozen positives, and this is in an area and an industry that is about as far from generally understood to support firearms rights as you can get.

  9. There’s also a difference between being known as a gun guy who likes going to the range, and hunting, and is an amazing shot; and being known as a gun guy who fetishizes his guns, has a shotgun in every corner, and thinks everyone is out to get him.

    Tyler, I don’t know you in real life, of course, but based on what I’ve seen written here, you seem to be squarely in group one, and as long as that’s how the people in your real world life know you, I think you’re fine in being recognized as a “gun guy.”

  10. @Tyler, if there’s a liability issue, it’s there whether or not you’re a “gun guy.”

    As a lawyer, I know how to make you look bad. That’s my job. So if you’re the gun guy, I’m going to tell the jury that you’re a gun nut who was spoiling for a fight. If you’re not the gun guy, I’m might tell the jury that you’re an untrained wannabee who panicked. Bernie Getz was a combination of both — an untrained wannabee who was spoiling for a fight. Any way you slice it, I will make you look bad. And you will have a lawyer who knows how to make you look good.

    So there is no special legal exposure to being the gun guy. Au contraire, mon frere, if you are posting articles about safe gun handling, responsible gun ownership and the like, it’s going to be more difficult for me to paint you as either a gun nut or a noob wannabee.

    Finally, a story about a goon who wins a lawsuit against a justified defender is the boogeyman under the bed. Sure, cases like that do happen, but they’re so rare that they make the eleven o’clock news. Man bites dog and all that. So stop looking around for the monster in the closet, because he’s not there.

    Be the gun guy, Tyler. Just be the smart gun guy.

    • Finally, a story about a goon who wins a lawsuit against a justified defender is the boogeyman under the bed. Sure, cases like that do happen, but they’re so rare that they make the eleven o’clock news.

      And even then, its often the case of the shooter’s insurance company saying “Here’s $5000, one time offer, take it or leave it scumbag”, and said scumbag’s laywer says ‘take it’.

    • Ralph, it’s not nearly just the lawyers, it’s the juries. There are juries in LA that are judgement impaired (to say it kindly), and their idiocy can exceed whatever common sense a lawyer or judge can dole out.

  11. One reason I joined Civil Air Patrol was to find something to do in my spare time that broadened my horizons beyond firearms.
    It certainly is fulfilling that need, but luckily a bunch of the guys in my squadron love to shoot! 🙂

  12. One reason I don’t post much here anymore is that I’m spread pretty thin, hobby-wise. I’m not as “into” guns as the real “gun guys”, nor am I into motorcycles as much as the motorcycle guys I ride with (“You only have ONE motorcycle?” they say incredulously), nor am I as into 4 wheeling as my 4 wheeling buddies (no 6″ lift, no 38″ tires, no winch on my 4runner.)

    I guess you could call me a dilletante but I prefer the term “Renaissance Man.” 😉

      • Winches are for bitches! What ever happened to the ‘I’m not gonna get stuck!’mentality. Jeez.

        • Sorry. I was being sarcastic. 4-wheel drive seems enough, eh? Education: Six years ago I asked a dealer to price a Jeep Wrangler with a winch. I came back a week later to see he’d written “Wench $2,100.” Well, I thought it was funny.

  13. Tyler,

    Great piece. Gun owners need to consider the importance of STFU not only after a DGU. Owners need to consider it now in their daily lives. I see no reason to tell co-workers that I own a gun. OK, maybe if the workplace is pro-gun — to be part of the social camaraderie — I might mention that I own a .22 bolt action for target shooting. The same goes with neighbors. They don’t need to know that I own a gun and what type(s) of guns (or not own a gun which could embolden a break-in). ‘Sharing’ facts about your ownership could be used against you by a vindictive neighbor, a coworker out to politically sabotage you at work (“Johnny made threats with his gun!”), etc. Games aside, having loose lips about what you own can get your house robbed too. In the past, having had liberal house-mates (anti-gun ones) I never told them what I kept discretely hidden in my room. One good house-mate argument, and a false accusation of a gun threat can cause an owner lots of regrettable problems that never needed to occur in the first place.

  14. Hmmmmm, I have a full beard, I restore old John Deere tractors, and collect tractor attachments, I enjoy carpentry, old movies, and also collect antique tools. Hopefully that makes me diversified enough to be a firearms enthusiast, and not a gun “nut”.

  15. Tyler,

    I’m a little puzzled by your post. Based on the photo at the beginning, am I to assume that the next time you come home to the ranch that I’ll be seeing knitting needles and crochet hooks?


  16. I take a similar but different slant from Aharon. As an enthusiast and instructor, I am always cautious talking about my guns due to my concerns about gun theft. For the same reason, I don’t advertise my memberships in gun clubs or advocacy groups, so no NRA stickers on my car or house door. I also keep an active alarm system and a wonderfully protective dog.

    I also have many other family and outside interests, but my range time remains special and relaxing to me.

    • I am always cautious talking about my guns due to my concerns about gun theft. For the same reason, I don’t advertise my memberships in gun clubs or advocacy groups, so no NRA stickers on my car or house door. I also keep an active alarm system and a wonderfully protective dog.

      Same here. I really try to let as few people as possible know I have guns.

  17. “so no NRA stickers on my car or house door. I also keep an active alarm system and a wonderfully protective dog”

    Good ideas. I gave away my NRA cap since I can wear other caps when walking around my neighborhood. For all the SD tough-talk and gun ownership, I think that first defenses such as having solid doors and secure windows, a fence if appropriate, an alarm system, and a dog to first deter potential intruders. In practical terms, those additional defense measures might just work on their own and hopefully show some good faith in court too. I used to go shooting with a man who proudly carried his black ‘Glock’ pistol bag (one every cop would recognize) and wore a windbreaker with NRA patches on it. Not me.

    I apply the art of unorthodox camouflage to living in an urban quasi-liberal increasingly pro-gun control profiling city.

    • Being the “gray-man” in urban environments is a good thing. I try practicing that approach everyday. No need to draw attention to oneself or family, in the urban/suburban area I currently call home.

  18. Neither my Harley (’79 XLS S&S 72 ci Stroker, Sifton Scorpion cams, XLR valves, Dell’Orto DHLA 40 carb, Supertrapp) nor my beard (gray-white) would save my bacon against an assailant. Having a gun for SD no more means I want to shoot somebody than having a spare tire means I want a flat. Oh, and it ain’t paranoia if they really ARE out to get you.

  19. All of these arguments serve to create a lot of doubt in my mind and in others who like guns and like to be able to defend themselves if they HAVE TO. At my advanced age, it might be easy for some perp’s family to clean out my limited assets leaving me and my family homeless. The really tough thing is to decide whether to defend or submit. I can’t stand the thought of submitting to some scumbag who goes around taking advantage of good people. All I can do is just hope that situation never arises in my life or my wife’s life because we will probably be made to suffer for it. I will protect HER to the best of my ability however, come hell or high water. I just can’t seem to come to terms with the way the law seems to work against good honest folks who just want to be left alone to live their lives without criminal interference. The anti’s just don’t seem to understand this.

  20. I live in California. At two different former jobs. Because I’m a gun owner and a firearms instructor. I’ve been treated like I’m some kind of contagious leper. Because I’m a combat vet I’ve been treated like I’m a killer just waiting for a chance to kill my co-workers. Also because I’m a politically conservative Republican I’ve been told that I must naturally be a misogynist homophobic racist. I am generally soft spoken. In polite conversations with co-workers it doesn’t matter that my best friend is black, my older brother is gay and I co-founded a charity for war orphans in Afghanistan. I can point out that its not the Republicans, but the Democrats who supported slavery, succession, segregation and socialism in our country. I once pointed out that Fredrick Douglas and Dr. Martin Luther King were both Republicans and was called a liar. I was told many times that my views were hurtful. But it was ok for my co-workers to call me a bigot or a racist because I would not vote for Obama. As if calling someone a racist is not a serious insult. It seems that if you are not PC then you may vilified. I have a lot of other hobbies and interests besides gun related ones. But to the leftist sheeple that I’m surrounded by, I’m just a gun nut.

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