Wednesday, March 7, 2007

observations from the gun store.

Last weekend, I went out to the local gun haus to peruse the new wares and have a chat with my friends and acquaintances over there.

While I was chatting with Tam, the room gradually filled up with students for the carry permit class that's taught at the shop once or twice a month. While they were waiting for roll to be called, I took a demographic sample, so to speak, and it occurred to me why the gun control crowd is mostly barking up the wrong tree.

You see, when the patchouli-and-Birkenstocks crowd thinks of gun owners, they think of fat men in camouflage, beer-swilling savages who eat beef jerky while waiting for deer to wander into the killing zone. In their minds, anyone who wants to own (or worse yet, carry!) a gun is a guy who's just trying to compensate for the small size of his wedding tackle.

Well, perception is not reality, especially not in this case. The people assembled for the carry class were as far from the "redneck gun owner" stereotype as you can get. For starters, fully half of them were females in the 21-40 age bracket, a demographic that incidentally has the most to gain by carrying around a portable force equalizer. The guys did not exactly match the bias either...many of them looked like accountants or bank tellers. In short, the assembled crowd looked indistinguishable from the folks you see on the street everyday, Mr. and Mrs. Suburbian. Plenty of purses, wedding rings, button-down shirts and pleated Dockers, and a suspicious absence of camo clothing or NASCAR apparel.

While it still rankles me that these good folks still have to waste a Saturday sitting through a class before being allowed by their government to obtain a chit "entitling" them to exercise a Constitutional and human right (do we need free speech and churchgoing permits from the State?), it's good to see that people are joining the Good Guys with Guns club in such encouraging numbers.

If I can't tell a permit holder from your average soccer mom on the street, neither can a carjacker or mugger.

More importantly, if I can't tell a gun-toting voter from a gun-hating one, Mr. and Mrs. Candidate will have a hard time with that as well, and maybe they'll start to realize why it's not a good idea to try and "take guns off the street". You just don't know whose purse contains one, and you don't want to piss off a voter.

You see, most politicians are vote whores. They'll swing whichever way they think gets them the most votes, and if there are enough average folks out there saying "keep your grubby hands off my thirty-eight", then gun control will be a non-issue.

So, take a friend or co-worker shooting today. Show 'em that there are far more gun owners wearing khakis or skirts than there are wearing camouflage, and you'll go a step towards the day when putting a gun on your belt before leaving the house is considered as sensible and uncontroversial as sticking a cell phone into your pocket.

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