I recently received an email from a woman who is not a gun owner, but who has attended gun education events and teaches womens’ self defense classes. She asked a rather well respected gun educator a simple question about laser sights, which he could easily have answered. Instead of answering, he rudely and dismissively told her that laser sights are something that he neither used nor recommended, then ignored her question. This woman emailed me to ask that same question, and mentioned the response she received from that gun educator and how it had made her feel. I answered her question about the laser sights to her satisfaction, but was left disappointed by the way her question had originally been handled. By responding in that manner, the gun educator in question wasn’t doing the gun rights cause any favors:
What it can take for a non gun owner to ask a gun related question
For those individuals whose firearms knowledge comes only from the movies and the news media, guns can be scary. As an example, colleagues who knew me to be a gun owner have stated, after the fact, that they wanted to ask me about guns for a while but were apprehensive about bringing up the matter. Some of the non gun owners whom I’ve taking shooting for the first time were quite nervous, and had to work up the courage to finally say that they wanted to take me up on my offer to go to the shooting range. (Also note that 0ther people who aren’t afraid of gun themselves do fear being treated like a violent criminal for just mentioning guns in a completely non threatening manner.)
The long-lasting effect of properly responding to a non gun owner’s question
When a non gun owner does manage to summon up the courage to ask a question about guns, the response they receive can have a long lasting impact. The very existence of this website is proof of that fact: I first considered becoming a gun owner during my first years of law school, while I worked part time for a computer software company. A coworker mentioned in passing that the boss was a gun owner and a hunter. This surprised me, since from a young age I had always been taught that gun owners were uneducated, racist, and violent. My boss was none of those things, and so I began to question the “facts” I had been told about gun owners and guns for all of my life. After a while, I summoned up the courage to bring up the topic of firearms in a conversation with my boss. After several conversations about guns, I became more interested in possibly owning one, and began to research the matter. About 3 months later, I bought my first gun. As time passed, I bought more guns, started this website, took non gun owners shooting, became an NRA recruiter, and otherwise have done my best to advance the gun rights cause.
Had my boss ignored my gun question, or worse yet answered rudely, I would likely have dropped the matter and been somewhat apprehensive about discussing guns with anyone in the future. I might never have bought a gun, decided to support gun rights, or started this website. Thankfully, he answered my questions, and those answers led me down the path to becoming a gun owner and gun rights advocate.
Those of us who are comfortable owning, shooting, and discussing guns should keep in mind that many non gun owners are quite apprehensive about even mentioning guns. When they summon up the courage to ask a question about guns, it behooves us to be polite in our responses. Nicely answering one question can mean the difference between that person becoming a gun owner and strong support of gun rights, and the person being left with a long lasting negative impression of guns and gun owners.