Three tiers

In the post below this, Robb makes a good point:

However, don’t give up on someone who might not like the idea [of concealed carry] at first. Those are the people we should be targeting, not running away from because they find guns icky.

I agree, but I also feel like there are three different levels of “finding guns icky” and whatever level the person is at should determine your next step.  Back to our hypothetical situation, your date has accidentally discovered your carry gun, you’ve explained it, now it’s reaction time.  We’re not going to discuss positive reactions here, but rather only the levels of negative reaction.  If she says “Oh, what are you carrying, I have a 1911 in a CTAC” then you should just propose on the spot.  Just sayin’.

Anyway, on to the negative reactions.

  1. Mild shock and curiosity: this usually comes with more questions, such as “why are you carrying a gun, is that safe, are you trained, etc etc”.  While not the time to launch in to your prepared speech on the glory of the 2nd Amendment and the wisdom of our Founding Fathers, this type of negative reaction really isn’t that bad.  You can be an ambassador for the shooting sports in this situation and help break down whatever media-induced negative stereotype your date has of gun owners.  What you do, don’t go all “SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED”.
  2. Moderate shock and distaste: This manifests itself as “I don’t like guns very much” or “I never had guns”.  The person is likely fearful of firearms due to lack of experience, but doesn’t necessarily think you’re a whacko.  Tread cautiously.  A person like this will have a lot more mental barriers before they get to “curious”, and pushing the issue too hard will drive them in to the third and final tier, which is
  3. Outright revulsion and emotional reaction: “I hate guns, I can’t believe you’d carry a dangerous weapon around like that, what are you some kind of murder crazy psycho?”  This person likely cannot be reasoned with; and nothing you will say in that moment will change their mind.  All you can do is courteously and politely extricate yourself from the situation, and go about your business.

The guiding star when dealing with any of these three people is to be polite, respectful, and courteous.  Don’t preach, don’t sermonize, don’t lecture, and don’t refer to yourself as a “sheepdog”.  Now that I think about it, don’t use the word “sheeple” either.  Ever.  In any circumstances, but especially in this type of situation.  Be polite, be articulate, and if you’re not making any headway simply disengage.


  1. This one time, at band camp…

    I mean, this one time, when I was stationed at Whidbey Island, I spent the day with a young lady I knew from high school, who was then staying with some folks in Seattle.

    Spent all day together, including a hug when we met.

    That evening, when we were going to go into a club for a couple of drinks, I needed to divest myself of my pistol, which was in a shoulder holster.

    So I told her, don’t freak out, but I have to leave this in the car…

    She was surprised that she hadn’t noticed it at all during the eight or nine hours we’d been sightseeing.

    She wasn’t perturbed in any way about my having a gun, though.

    It helps that we grew up in Alaska, I suppose.

  2. I try not to bring guns up into every conversation. I really do avoid it. But they are by far my favorite hobby so eventually it comes up. I try to convert people by not being too eager.

    For some reason people seem to react better when I tell them I shoot competitively vs when I just tell them I collect guns. It seems that sports they get but obsessively buying surplus guns to fill a safe is too similar to my other hobby of buying comics to be palatable to most people.

  3. I’ve had *some* success with being a little more preemptive on the subject. I will usually broach the subject in advance, especially with a date. Typically, I will say something along the lines of, “Hey, I thought you might like to know that I am a concealed carry permit holder and I will be carrying today/tonight/whenever.” It’s a statement, not askance and shows the conviction that I think you need to show when you carry.

    My experience is that the third of those reactions is not very likely since there is no “big, scary, icky gun” at that point, just a concept.

    It gives me a chance to explain why I carry and, of course, doing so in reasoned words and very specifically avoiding my preparations for World War Z helps. Interestingly, it also gives me a chance to talk tactics, though it’s probably best to avoid that word. Most people (sheeple?) have never really stopped to think about what they’d do if their partner was carrying and it really is nice to briefly sketch out what would be best if I have to draw.

    By the way, this approach has resulted in one date asking to go to the range. If that’s not full of win, I don’t know what is.

  4. I guess I got lucky in a way. My wife and I got our CHL at the same time although we had to take separate classes so the other could watch the kids.

    So far when I meet new friends, if the subject ever comes up I generally receive positive feedback. The neighbor was the only person who I would say fell into a mild negative category when she found out. She was mostly “remind me not to piss you guys off!” but also mentioned being a little nervous around guns. We mostly keep them concealed around her and don’t talk about the subject much and she remains friendly and visits so we must not have scared her too badly.

  5. Right on Jesse. I also get better responses when I say I shoot competitively. It puts a middle step in between “have a gun” and “prepared for self defense” and helps them make the leap.

    It also shows that 99.999999999% of the time that guns are fun. Shooting is a very enjoyable hobby with a huge following. It does require you to be careful, but so does motorsport, climbing, parachuting, etc.

  6. “simply disengage”. Wiser words were never spoken.

    Sorry I missed you out west. Thanks for the phone call down at Dad’s.

  7. My Daughter has a problem with dating guys who carry, the problem is when they come over we get talking guns and she never gets a word in edgewise!

    She has reminded me of this before and after bringing guys over several times……

  8. The reaction I get is more of “why are you so paranoid?”

    Around where I live, most people don’t get in too much of a huff about owning guns, or even the possible defensive utility of having one in the house, but most people seem to think you’re getting into the paranoid zone when you start carrying one with you everywhere.

    This is still generally my wife’s opinion, unfortunately. Largely because we have both grown up in “safe” areas, where the likelihood of random stranger violent crime is low enough to not know anyone offhand who has been a victim. Which may actually make it paranoid… sometime I really want to make some kind of scientific study of what % chance of a bad situation occurring is required for basic preparations to be considered reasonable.

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