I used to be passionately anti-gun. I gave money to anti-gun organizations. So, I know full well the emotional drive to promote “common-sense gun laws.”
Today I am a proud life member of the National Rifle Association and own several firearms. I even own what people constantly mislabel as assault weapons. This makes me a criminal in my hometown of Boulder where I am in blatant and public violation of their new bigoted city ordinance.
I would rather be arrested and go to jail than give up my civil liberties. That’s how strongly I believe in our right to keep and bear arms.
My seismic shift from gun-phobe to gun-defender is proof people can be brought around on this issue. But it takes time, a long time, and someone willing to patiently help others challenge their own emotional biases.
My message to my pro-gun friends — we are at risk of losing our rights because we mostly react to political threats without also focusing on the long-term, generational challenge of changing the political culture.
I’ll say it for the millionth time — politics is the lagging indicator of culture. And the anti-gun left knows how to influence culture through government-run education, Hollywood and the media.
There was a time when schools had shooting clubs. Now they are not just gun-free zones, but political tools for gun control. Just ask my high-school-aged daughter after being bullied to tears for her pro-gun stance.
We could be just a generation away from losing our guns.
America now has more guns than people. But that doesn’t necessarily mean there are more gun owners. It likely means that people who already own guns are buying more of them.
That’s all good, but what we need is more people owning firearms. Our overriding goal must be to get guns into the hands of responsible, first-time gun owners.
Getting into your first gun can be a transformative experience. It helps melt away the emotional cloud that fuels the anti-gun, disempowerment movement.
Shooting a gun regularly teaches the mechanics of the tool. Before you know it your reaction to anti-gun paranoia changes. When alarmists call a gun an “automatic” weapon or a weapon-of-war, you realize they just don’t know what they are talking about, and almost feel sorry for them.
Firearms and the “gun culture” all seem less weird and dangerous once you’re a gun owner yourself.
Owning and using a gun regularly does more than just melt away the fear. It helps one think about property rights, women’s empowerment, individual and common defense, and how unacceptable government intrusion into our private lives is.
We gunnies can be terrible salesmen for our cause. Inflammatory bumper stickers and heated sloganeering doesn’t change hearts and minds. It didn’t change mine. My thoughtful and patient brother did, over two long years.
We who value the Second Amendment can change culture.
I have an idea and I hope you will follow my lead. I want to see it turn into a movement.
If you weren’t raised with guns, getting into your first gun can be very intimidating. We need to make it easy and enjoyable. We gunnies all know that one friend, co-worker or family member that should be a gun owner, but yet isn’t.
Let’s give, yes give, that person one of our guns. Let’s help them learn to shoot it properly. Help them go through the process I went through.
This is a real challenge for a gun owner. We are so sensitized to not having our guns taken that the thought of giving some of them away feels like sacrilege. But it is the opposite.
I have a 9mm pistol. It’s a Ruger Security 9 to be precise, and I love it. And I want to give it to you along with a lock and a few things to get you going. You’ll have to pass the background check and agree to take a safety class. I can help you find one.
If you are curious about guns but never owned one, please email me at GunGifts@gmail.com. Tell me a bit about yourself and I’ll choose someone to have my gun.
Imagine if responsible gun owners paid it forward with a goal of doubling the number of legal gun owners in ten years. Culture changed.
Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.
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