When it comes to gun rights, there is still plenty of need to preach to the choir
By Jeff Knox
I recently wrote about the need for preaching to the choir – too many of our own friends, family members, and fellow shooters are woefully uninformed about the fight for liberty. A chance conversation in a hardware store this week really brought home just how much work there is to do beyond the choir room doors.
At the hardware store I got into a conversation with a fellow shopper. As conversations with me tend to do, it wasn't long before we were talking about guns and gun laws. The fellow's wife had joined the conversation by this time and while his reaction was troubling, her reaction was down right scary.
This was a nice couple in their 50's, fairly conservative, into classic cars, and in the market for a .38 for home protection. They were not loony-tune lefties by any means. They also mentioned a good friend who owns many guns and reloads. The conversation rolled along smoothly until the topic of "Uzi's and machineguns" came up. As you can imagine, it wasn't me talking about "Uzi's and machineguns."
I explained that there is little difference between an Uzi and any 9mm handgun or carbine and that legal machineguns are virtually never used in crime, that so-called "assault weapons" are also rarely used in crime and that millions and millions of them are owned and used every day without hurting anyone. I explained that the Second Amendment isn't about duck or deer hunting, it is about being able to defend yourself, your family, your community, your state, and your country.
That is when the woman said something really chilling. She said that those crazy people who want all of those military weapons and think they have a right to that kind of capability just infuriate her and scare her to death and even though she doesn't think people should have machineguns, those crazy people make her wish she had a machinegun to just shoot them all.
What on earth do you do with something like that?
I explained that those "crazy people" weren't radical nut-jobs hoping for an opportunity to shoot a terrorist. They are ordinary people – her neighbors – who believe they have a right and an obligation to be prepared to defend our way of life. I told her that those guys aren't "those guys," they are me. I tried to get her to understand that these gun owners are asking nothing more than to be left alone, and that trying to disarm them for no reason would result in tragedy. Nothing I said could penetrate her resolve or her husband's support for her position. She was absolutely convinced that no one should "be allowed" to own more than a couple of guns or more than a little ammunition and that anyone who refused to conform to such restrictions deserved whatever they got in the way of government agents forcing compliance.
The whole encounter shocked me. I have had arguments with anti-gun zealots over the years and their ability to ignore facts and embrace irrational fear has always amazed me, but these folks didn't fit the mold. These folks were asking my advice about gun stores and training, but they were ready to employ the Marines to forcefully disarm – or kill – people like me.
I've talked with conservatives who just didn't get the whole "gun thing" and I've talked to gun owners who didn't see why anyone should have an "assault weapon" or a .50 BMG or a little-bitty handgun, and I've almost always been stunned by their myopia. But this is the first time I have ever met a reasonable, thoughtful, intelligent person who was ready to declare war on her countrymen simply because they wanted to have the means to effectively defend themselves from just such an assault.
I have resolved that I am going to find a way to reach this woman and others like her. I am going to formulate arguments that will breach her hoplophobia and help her understand my position – and her own. At this point I'm not sure what those arguments will be, but I do know that it won't be easy.
I'm afraid that there are a lot more folks like this couple out there. Folks who are afraid of me because I believe in the right to arms. I don't know yet how I'm going to allay those fears, if I can allay them, but I do know that we need answers for these folks and we have a whole lot of work to do.
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