Sebastian once again has an excellent post up, this time regarding the motivations that your average lefty has behind supporting gun control. It is as usual well thought out, and I recommend that you read his piece in its entirety. I wanted to elaborate on it a little further; literally to take it down to the level of individual people.
The majority of the friends that my wife and I have are liberal. I don’t really know how this happened, but it just did. In my original piece on hoplophobia I discussed a case that I encountered while my wife and I were dating; as well as a conversation I had with a friend. Neither of those examples really pointed to the root of why so many Americans seem to support “reasonable gun laws”, and as a general rule would haven’t a problem with taking away your AR15 or my Saturday Night Specials. The problem that allows liberals in power to exploit the average American and pass their onerous gun laws is one of perception.
Let’s look at two examples, myself and a liberal friend. I was raised by a cop, and I was raised to not fear firearms. I was taught how to handle them safely, and as I grew older I began to actively study their uses, both modern and historical. My Liberal Friend (whom we’ll call Stephanie) was raised in a house with no guns, and her first exposure to guns was actually from me. The biggest difference when it comes to gun control is our perception of firearms. I understand that a gun is nothing more than some steel and plastic designed to expel a metal particle in a particular direction at high speed. It has no individual will of its own, and is only rendered dangerous by the end user. Stephanie, on the other hand only knows of guns what she has learned from the media; both the news and fiction.
In fiction, firearms are portrayed almost as magical devices, slaying evildoers and good men alike, a powerful object that grants those in power even more power, and those not in power the will and power to defy their oppressors. They do some crazy things, like when a 9mm tosses a guy through a wall, but that’s neither here nor there. In the news media, firearms are rarely portrayed in a positive light, and you are bombarded with weasel words such as “Saturday Night Special”, “assault weapon”, and “sniper rifle”. A lifetime of media exposure without the balancing influence of actual education and gun ownership leaves a person with a preconceived notion of what a firearm is used for: usually the killing of other humans.
The final perceptive issue is how those without education into firearms perceive gun owners. Again, by early adulthood a person will have been bombarded with images from both the news and fictional media about gun owners being paranoid, antisocial, “shoot first ask questions later”, redneck, and anti-government to name a few. I have discovered that my liberal friends don’t have a problem with me owning guns, because in their mind I am educated, responsible, and not “threatening”. They are scared and of the invisible “gun owning boogeyman” that the media has constructed, they don’t want him owning guns. Since I’m not the boogeyman, my guns are okay, except for the assault weapons and sniper rifles because “what do you need those for?”
So what we are left with is The Great Divide between the gun owners and the average non owner. I honestly feel like the average person that says they support gun control doesn’t do so out of an actual desire to take guns away, but because they’ve not been educated they feel that it actually is a reasonable measure to remove the guns that the media says are bad. Your dedicated hard-core antis probably can’t be saved, but it’s not them we need to covert. It’s Suzy Soccermom that we need to see our way. Oprah fans. It falls to us, the gun owners to educate people. We’re the ambassadors of our sport and our hobby to our non gun friends, and how they perceive you will help in shaping their perception of gun owning people.
I’m not saying that we should go and proselytize people in the name of the Gospel of the 1911; but to simply be responsible and when an opportunity presents itself to tear down some anti-gun bias, do so in a polite manner. I’m happy to report that two of my “non-gun” friends have asked me if I could take them shooting when the weather warms up; of course I will. I’m always happy to haul the .22s for a newbie.