Hearts and minds

I beat the drum of “winning hearts and minds” quite frequently around here. I’m a big proponent of sharing our hobby in a way that makes it more accessible to people who haven’t been exposed a lot to firearms. I don’t often get to practice what I preach, so it’s important for me to put my money where my mouth is when the opportunity presents itself.

By now you’re probably wondering exactly what the hell it is that I’m talking about; and I don’t blame you for that. Yesterday, this chap linked to me with the post I’m linking to now. As you can see in the comments I wondered exactly what it was that was so scary about my blog, I went so far as to do a brief recap of the last ten posts on the front page. The host of the other blog was kind enough to clarify exactly what it was he found disturbing about WWJWD in the below comment.

Our regular readers haven’t chipped in as yet, so let me take a crack. What I find scary about your blog is your fascination with firearms.

I can understand that feeling; as a teenager I collected guns. And like most Americans, especially men, I’ve experience the messages that guns are cool, that they equal power.

The very fact that you’d name your blog “church of the duke” symbolizes this.

I want to address the points brought up here because I think they are a very accurate representation of how a lot of people view firearms. I also think that it is part of a misconception about firearms.

I understand the statement that “guns equal power”, and while I think it reinforces a misconception, it’s also partially true. The old saying goes “God created men, but Sam Colt made them equal”, a reference to the equalizing power of a firearm. In that sense, it is true that a gun confers power upon its user. When used for self defense, it allows a woman of small stature and limited physical strength to defend herself against attackers who, in the absence of a firearm, could easily overpower her.

I also agree that guns are “cool”, but not because they equal power. To me and many other firearms enthusiasts, the “power” of a gun has absolutely nothing to do with why I find them interesting. To us, a fascination with firearms is no different than a fascination with automobiles; it is the machine itself that creates interest. I personally view guns as a benign object, a mechanical device designed to use expanding gases to expel a projectile at high speed. My fascination with firearms isn’t any different from someone who is fascinated with other machines.

I think that is the critical difference in the thought process of people. To me, to Sebastian, Countertop, Tamara, and the whole army of gunbloggers a gun isn’t mysterious. It doesn’t carry any special powers beyond its design. It’s just a machine that does the will of its user.

I’m not saying that guns aren’t dangerous, and shouldn’t be treated with respect. To quote the comics, “with great power comes great responsibility”. Simple fact – when used illegally or irresponsibly, guns can hurt and kill people. Responsible gun owners are most cognizant of that fact, and we do everything we can to prevent injuries and promote firearms safety.

The bottom line is that to us, a gun has nothing to do with power. A gun is just another thing, no different in its inherent value from a car, a boat, or any other hobby item. Like a lot of hobbies, it requires responsibility to ensure safety.

As for the name of my blog, well it’s actually What Would John Wayne Do; and it doesn’t have anything to do with guns. I started using that phrase years ago in response to the whole “What Would Jesus Do” thing that was going around; it was humorous and the gag caught on with some folks. It makes for a heckuva blog title as well.

Update: You know, I had almost completely forgotten about this post from Marko, called “Why the Gun is Civilization”. He looks at it from a view that I didn’t approach in this entry; and while we are of the same opinion, his expression is more eloquent than mine would have been.