Whether through articles or posts on social media the gun industry has an unfortunate tendency to readily and joyously eat its own. Toss a proverbial hot topic into the ring and suddenly it’s lions versus Christians with the lone Christian being represented by some poor guy who was “just saying.”
It’s a topic worth addressing even though it will cause more even kvetching and whining in the comment section (commonly-shared saying among writers: never read the comment section). Addressing this topic at all is likely to be called “whining”, “playing the victim card”, or – my personal favorite – “virtue signaling.”
There’s also the opposite end of the spectrum. There we have those who loudly proclaim we as an industry are being divided by the use of “divisive” speech. This often involves the originator of the discussion having asked a question or somehow challenged the status quo. You don’t dare rock the boat, because that makes you “part of the problem.”
What follows are my two cents. They’re sentiments I like to believe are shared by most of us here at TTAG. If my bluntness about this state of affairs offends you, sorry, but I’m not sorry.
Speak Your Mind
The willingness to speak up should never be discouraged, so long as the speaker isn’t a flaming asshat (yes, I’m looking at you). Voicing varying thoughts and opinions is how progress is made; silencing those voices is how we not only remain in place, but are dragged backwards by our opponents.
Who is it you think makes the changes in the industry? Those who go with the flow or those who are willing to speak up?
In an era of COVID-19, rioting, looting, and looming anti-gun measures, speaking up has become even more important. If you as a gun owner are unwilling to say something, to actively fight for your Second Amendment rights, exactly how do you expect this to end?
Of course, daring to open your mouth, whether in real life or on social media, comes with a whole other set of risks to consider. Social media has long since empowered certain people to behave in a bullying or outright threatening manner without fear of repercussions and it seems it’s only gotten worse lately. That doesn’t mean you should remain silent, though.
A word of advice. Speaking your mind can be done politely. So be polite. Be the adult in the situation. Resorting to name-calling, insults, and condescension is the quickest way to be cast aside as yet another ranting redneck gun owner or a crude commenter. Be constructive. It’s fun.
As for threats, handle any you may get wisely. Don’t behave rashly or say something that could be used against you in the future. Remember, the internet is forever.
2A Rights Take Priority
As an industry we’re faced with significant threats to our Second Amendment rights. For example: bump stocks. A large portion of the industry was only too happy to throw bump stocks under the bus because, hey, it’s a small concession in light of greater issues, right?
Wrong. It doesn’t matter if you thought bump stocks were useless range toys or if you didn’t care because the same action can be easily replicated with a rubber band. The anti-gun left has proven — time and again — that if they’re granted so much as an inch, they will take not just a mile, but ten. You gave them bump stocks. Now they’ve come for pistol braces, raided Polymer80, and before too much time passes Biden will be making good on his AR and semi-auto ban promises.
Petty squabbles need to be set aside for the defense of Second Amendment rights. If the anti-gun crowd is threatening those rights in some way, we should be capable of banding together to fight back. But we apparently aren’t.
Case in point . . .
The Big, Bad NRA
You might not agree with everything the NRA does, but they remain — still — our most powerful voice for Second Amendment rights. Have I been happy with everything they’ve done? Not even close. However, they are still the biggest dog in the fight.
If, one day, another organization manages to garner their level of influence, great. In my mind it’s an easy question: do you like owning guns? Yes? Cool. Support the NRA, then fight for change from within instead of pouting like a recalcitrant toddler from the outside.
Can’t bring yourself to support the NRA? Want to explore your options? Check out the Second Amendment Foundation. Their focus is wholly legal, but their founder, Alan Gottlieb, has proven he and SAF will do whatever it takes to fight for your rights. SAF is growing in influence and worth contributing to and supporting.
Don’t forget the Firearms Policy Coalition, either. They’re busy in the courts filing lawsuits challenging everything from magazine capacity limits, failures to process concealed carry permits, to “assault weapons” bans and gun rights restoration.
Love a Good Debate
I have a confession, something you might already have noticed: I love a good debate. By “good debate” I mean a logical discussion based on facts. I don’t mean an argument where we call one another names and slap at one another like sorority girls.
Debate is good for the soul. More importantly, debate is important for progress. Weaver vs. isosceles, low vs. high bore axis, competition vs. self-defense training. God help us, even 9mm vs. .45 and GLOCK vs 1911. It’s all fantastic food for thought. Also, you’ll never know what people think if you don’t bring it up. Even better, you might – gasp – learn something during the discussion.
Debate is a necessary part of progress. What if John Moses Browning never invented – well, anything? What if Daniel LaFever never designed a striker-fired shotgun? What if Elmer Keith failed to work on magnums? Oh…what if Jeff Cooper never developed the Modern Technique?
Debate is Not Divisive
It’s past time we as an industry stopped clutching at our pearls and admit that debates aren’t divisive. Divisive behavior is like what Karl Lueger did to Vienna (by the way, Karl, thanks for influencing Hitler, who took division to new heights). Debating whether competition shooting makes one a competent self-defense shooter…not so much.
Debate is, quite literally, talking an issue or issues over in a formal, civilized manner. What debate isn’t is an insult-tossing free-for-all (a habit so many have developed on social media).
That means bellowing that open carry or using a SERPA holster will get someone kilt in da streets is not conducive to progress. It also means leveling cities because someone insulted 6.5 Creedmoor or said your GLOCK isn’t all that might be a bit of an overreaction. Just saying.
Chill out and learn to discuss things calmly and rationally. Back your claims with facts, not feelings, and for the love of God stop believing everything you read on the intertubes (yes, I realize you’re reading this on the intertubes).
Can you discuss an opposing viewpoint without calling someone names, slapping rude labels on them, or otherwise being a jerk? If the answer is no, you aren’t looking for a debate, you just want a fight. Those methods are the way of the angry, reactive anti-gun left and shouldn’t be your way. Shush and let the grown-ups talk. In short, DBAA.
Oh, And Quit Being a Political Asshole, Too
Something we’ve all watched play out during this presidential election and afterwards is a lot of assholery surrounding both Trump and Biden. Instead of sticking to facts the feces-slinging like monkeys have reached a frenzied pitch and those of us uninterested in slap-fighting were left on the sidelines shaking our heads.
It isn’t only Dems against Repubs, either. There are people in the industry so entrenched in Orange Man Bad they refused to admit the incredible damage a Biden presidency would and will do to our rights as gun owners. They either threw in with Biden or cast their votes for a third party which is…well, it’s throwing your vote away, people. Simple truth.
And now that the election is done and voter fraud has become the hot topic, there are a lot of gun people saying other gun people should sit down and shut up. Gun people claiming other gun people only see fraud because they’re upset they lost, and they need to get over it.
I’m sorry, but do you see any Republicans burning cities, looting stores and murdering people? Have rioters filled the streets or are legal avenues being taken? I don’t care whose side the fraud takes place on. If there is evidence of fraud it should be investigated. Does that meant the outcome will change? No. But if we as a nation lose all faith in our voting system, we have lost more than many people seem to comprehend.
You can yell Orange Man Bad as much as you like. I’m certainly not thrilled with Trump myself. Unfortunately, politics tends not to be a matter of being head-over-heels in love with a candidate but about choosing the lesser of two evils. Again, this’s life. Deal with it.
For those gun owners who feel justified in voting for Anyone But Orange Man and who are now telling other gun owners they must be morons for considering the possibility that fraud took place, I have one question for you (I don’t want the answer now, though…hang on six months to a year and get back to me).
How safe are your Second Amendment rights now? Do you feel good about your right to bear arms?
All the bickering amongst ourselves contributed to what just happened in the election. Unity isn’t a strong suit of the gun world or Republicans in general. We’d much rather be at one another’s throats all day, every day.
Here we come to the crux of the matter. As an industry, we frequently eat our own. Writers who attempt to build themselves up by mocking and tearing down other writers, competitive shooters who degrade and name-call as a matter of reflex, brand founders targeting other brands for imagined or years-old slights; we’re like an industry of junior high schoolers with access to copious amounts of alcohol.
But wait, you say, you don’t work in the industry. You’re a reader, just a commenter. Guess what? Without readers clicking on links and buying guns and gear, we wouldn’t exist. The industry would crumble. Don’t believe me? You all didn’t see the fallout of declining gun sales. It isn’t only the manufacturers who were hurt, it’s the guys heading up R&D and marketing, the ammo companies, and yes, the writers.
I know there are plenty of industry guys reading this right now and grimacing.
I have an idea. It’s pretty radical, but it’s worth a shot. Why don’t we have rational, logical discussions? Why not trade ideas back and forth without informing someone they’re part of the problem? There are quite a few people out there willing to talk to me – and to others – privately who will not make public statements for fear of repercussions. We aren’t bullet proof, after all, and we all have bills to pay.
In my experience, those who say you are rocking the boat and should sit your ass down are the same people who will toss you ass-over-kettle out of that boat without a second thought (whether you sit down or not). The industry needs to grow and expand its base. The industry needs to welcome newcomers. The industry and the NRA need more Adam Krauts. Toeing the party line isn’t the answer.
Disclaimer: Raging assholes and jerks deserve to be slapped down. Dangerous practices – think VODA – should be spoken out against. Safety, ethics, and protecting our Second Amendment rights should be the priorities. Get those priorities in order. Let your polite conversation freak flag fly. Just keep your muzzle aimed in a safe direction, please.