I try very hard to keep Blue Coat’s mission away from politics. When I started this company, my mission was to fix/restore historical weapons, repair and create modern weapons, and just overall enjoy a passion that I have with an industry full of people that feel as I do. No one told me that when I would receive my Federal Firearms License (FFL) that I would also have to practice politics daily; to not only defend my livelihood and my industry, but my principles and morals as well.
It is my hope that The Case for Guns will hopefully serve as a means to spark meaningful discussion about the Second Amendment and the Firearms Community; as well as help individuals who feel the same as I do not feel alone in the fight. It is also my wish that this may also help educate those who wish to be educated, as I will attempt to cut through some of the smoke and mirrors that are utilized by both sides. The biggest pitfall to trying to have an honest and open conversation about the Second Amendment is the indoctrination of identity politics. As a country we are being pushed into an ideology that is based on an “Us vs Them” mentality…Republican vs Democrat…Left vs Right…Progressive vs Conservative…Rural vs Metro…Left vs Right. Neither side will admit when they are wrong and neither side will ever forgive the other’s short comings.
However, sometimes this idea of difference or attempt to isolate is done unintentionally; and I am just as guilty as the next person. When attempting to communicate ideas or difference in opinion it is just easier to say, “the other side” or “they/them”. Maybe we need to find better ways to communicate. It is also a fact that both sides will also attack some of their own rank and file as well. Those of us that are “moderate” or “independent” are often attacked worse than the “enemy” simply because we do not have a true allegiance to either. When someone talks to me it does not take long for them to find out what my true feelings are toward the Second Amendment; however there are those who choose to attack me because I will talk to, associate with, and/or debate people/organizations with anti-gun views/agendas. But it is my belief that if there is a seat at the table to discuss the Second Amendment that both sides need to be there. How can we expect things to move forward if the conversation stops? If we stop reaching out to those with different viewpoints how can we ever expect to at least reach some common ground?
I do think that we can all agree that some common ground that we can all reach is that when it comes to mass shootings, we all feel the same way. Democrat or Republican…Conservative or Liberal…or whatever there is in between we are all appalled that this is continuing to happen; and we are all searching for the answers. Some of us want to blame thirty round magazines and certain types of firearms; but I think that this only because those are physical things that can be controlled. Doing such, will not help or solve the issues; as has been proven in the past. What people really want is to ban violence, but violence is a part of the human condition and always will be. As “enlightened” as we pretend to be human beings are just another branch in the ecosystem; and there are only two types of animals in the world: prey and predators.
“Not one person would watch a lion run down a gazelle and deny the gazelle its antlers and hooves to defend itself but there are people in this country who are willing to deny that right of self-defense to other human beings…Those people seem to have the notion that by cutting off the antlers of the gazelle and making it easier for the predator that they will just give up…this is insane and only promotes victimization and creates more predators.”_ Bill Whittle
Another hurdle that has developed within society that creates problems when attempting to have meaningful discussion (and this is a problem on both sides) is that people have lost the ability to cope with discourse and disagreement. There was a time on this country when you could agree to disagree and still respect one another as people. Now people no longer wish to try and understand a viewpoint that is not theirs. They will only seek out information that further solidifies what they already believe. Both sides’ only goal now is to bully the other while blindly pushing forth an agenda. “If you cared more about those dead kids you would stand with me…” is a classic example that I hear constantly. This is also not just a gun debate issue but a problem in our political system, but our primary focus is firearms. In today’s world if you disagree with someone politically you are automatically wrong to them; because they would rather demonize you instead of having a rational discussion and critically think about the situation.
This lack of critical thinking has opened a lot of bad doors in a lot of areas. The media for example is constantly pushing conflicting messages: 1) The police are brutal and hunting minorities…give up your guns and you’ll be safer! 2) President Trump is the next Hitler…you don’t need your Second Amendment rights! 3) The KKK, Neo-Nazis, LGBTQ bashers, ect. are everywhere…give up the one thing that will help protect you. The other problem that we face is that the media is constantly barraging us with “news” every minute of the day that you begin to tune a lot of it out. Therefore, so many articles have big and scary headlines, because they know that people won’t read the article, but they will remember the headline and pass that off as news.
I have the “gun debate” with several people every week, as it is one of the un-mentioned duties that comes with being a gunsmith. I have always tried to approach these conversations with the attitude of returning the same courtesy that is given to me. If someone wants to have a genuine conversation than I am willing to try and do that. Sometimes this becomes hard though because a part of effectively engaging with people is having the ability to sympathize with their feelings and beliefs. Without this you will not be able to relate to them, which means you will not be able to move dialogue forward. However, we cannot allow our feelings on a subject change the facts and statistics of that subject.
In the ‘Age of Social Media’, the debate has gotten that much harder because young adults have never developed the ability to effectively and genuinely communicate with one another. In the ‘Good Old Days’ if you wanted to debate someone you had to do it to their face. You would take turns poking holes in each other’s arguments and at the end there would be a winner; or someone who had more facts and better arguments. Today a ‘debate’ erupts on social media and someone is defeated or has a light shined on their ignorance they get mad and delete the thread, and all evidence of their loss. This does nothing for the topic because you are removing the ability of people to learn from the discussion. I also mention social media because if I have learned anything talking about guns it is that people who scream the loudest for gun control usually know the least about the subject. However, this does not just pertain to guns as I have run into this in many other areas: abortion, marijuana, LGBTQ issues, but I digress. The simple fact is that most people who are anti-gun are speaking out of a place of ignorance and not knowledgeable understanding. Most anti-gun people have never fired a gun or purchased one. Many have also never even seen a real gun, but they can tell you every reason in the world why they don’t like them.
What gets a lot of pro-gun people in trouble I think is our lack of patience. I understand that it takes a lot to wade through all the lies and falsehoods; but the few times that I have been able to stick it out and educate someone it has been worth it. They made not want to go out and buy a gun the next day, but they at least have a better understanding of how the current laws actually work and a clearer view of my perspective and why I think the Second Amendment is so important.
And then there are the politicians, the driving force behind the “Us vs Them” fight in the first place. Politicians have been trying to tell citizens what to do and believe since even before the United States of America. Citizens cannot be controlled if they can think outside of their “box”. Labels have been used for centuries to force ‘stereotypical thinking’ which often corners people into supporting something that they may not agree with one hundred percent. Politicians also need to learn the lesson that passing legislation based on emotional response, and not research or strategic planning, is illogical. Just passing a bill to ‘do something’ to make yourself feel good is a waste of the process’s time and not what we pay you to do. The best example that I can give of this is Gun Free Zones. A little sticker or sign at the front entrance will not stop a person with bad intentions from using a gun in this soft-target fishing barrel. This has been proven time and time again, as ninety-five percent of mass shootings since Sandy Hook have all occurred in posted Gun Free Zones.
In this series we will look at different areas of the debate and try to dissect it, discuss it, and hopefully learn from it. It is my goal that no matter what side you are on that you will learn something. The only way to move the conversation forward is to engage in genuine and meaningful conversation, which cannot happen if both sides do not have all of the information. So, I will do my best to give you all the information I can from the perspective of a small firearm business in the Midwest.