Last year before SHOT, I wrote a post attacking former SEAL Brandon Webb for his views on the American gun culture, calling him anti-gun. Brandon fired right back on his site, and it looked like we were headed for a full on blog war. Then something strange happened – we had a professional email exchange, and agreed to meet up and do an interview at SHOT SHOW 2014. That interview turned into a pleasant conversation between two dudes whose points of view really aren’t that far apart.
I don’t think Brandon Webb is anti-gun. I also don’t agree with him on every subject. In our conversation, we discussed everything from the role the NRA could play as the gun culture changes, what it’s like being a gun owner in California, and how different viewpoints colored both of our perceptions.
The reason I’m writing this post now is because with NRA Annual Meetings kicking off tomorrow, it’s an appropriate time to revisit this discussion. Here are the two takeaways from that conversation. First, I don’t think that at the time, Brandon had a solid grasp of all the NRA’s programs outside of their political stuff. That’s not surprising, because a lot of people don’t realize that the NRA is more than a political organization. I think that NRA is working to change that, and that’s an important thing. I’d love to see a greater emphasis from NRA on their shooting programs, on education and training.
The second takeaway is the really important one though. I believe that we’re too quick at times to criticize potential allies for straying from what we believe to be the Gospel of Gun Rights. Brandon Webb isn’t anti-gun. Like I said up top, we certainly disagree on things. But on the core issue of the 2nd Amendment, we agree that it is an individual right for the citizens. That’s important. We can fight and argue all day about semantics, but attacking people because they’re not true believers in our pure vision of the perfect Gun Rights world doesn’t do us any favors. I personally should have taken a more nuanced approach with Brandon, and I sometimes wonder if we’re tossing good people under the bus for not being ideologically pure.
The story behind all of this is simple: two guys took potshots at each other online, but then when we sat down and talked like grow ups, we realized that working together was smarter than sniping each other online. Maybe what we need is more of that – talking like grow ups, and not Gun Rights purity contests.