I've been trying to stay away from the gun debate because I have a pretty strong opinion that the people who listen to me are already aligned to my way of thinking and don't need to be preached to and the people who don't listen to me won't start no matter what I say. So, other than passing on a few interesting articles and encouraging others to get involved I'm staying out of things.
Yet, since the latest Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 has been introduced there's been a lot of talk about who is "winning." Is there enough support for the legislation? Who is going to vote for it? Is there senate support? Will it be stopped before it gets out of the House?
A lot of speculation that, quite honestly, we're just going to have to wait and see how it turns out.
So, some might (and probably will) look at the title of this blog and balk.
"Lima!" they might say, "The antis aren't winning. We have ..." and they will start to list all sorts of reasons why we are going to win in legislation this year.
That's all well and good but I'm not talking about legislation this year. I'm not even talking about legislation next year or the year after that. I'm talking about losing the battle but winning the war and the anti gun crowd is turning to an age-old system that has worked well for them in the past for both the better and worst. I'm talking about winning over our children and slaughtering any positive image of the gun culture.
After this whole gun control debate exploded I decided to educate myself on the history of British gun laws and how they ended up with an all out ban. Why wasn't it fought harder? How did such a thing happen without mass fighting and civil war and stand-offs between the police and citizens? The gun ban in England happened almost silently.
I found the answer hidden between the lines.
The British were successful in one area that American gun-control advocates have not been successful in but are waking up to: destroying the gun culture.
British gun control has a long and uncomplicated history. It was, as many suspect it may become here in the US, a slow and steady trickle of gun laws that simply made it harder and harder for citizens to own firearms to the point where it was too much trouble to keep a firearm. And along with the hardening of laws, lack of accessibility and a mounting financial and paperwork burden, there was also a vicious attack against those who might appreciate guns. They were demonized and attacked to the point where getting rid of the gun was a social solution as well as an economical one. By the time the last axe fell and people were told to turn in their firearms there was no desire to fight and it was considered a relief to some to get the evil stigma of "gun owner" off of their backs.
Many were very willing to get rid of the guns to be socially acceptable again.
And the social attack has begun in the states.
The above video is an old one but very relevant. In it, Eric Holder outlines a plan that has been working its was through the anti crowd and is now finding its way through the pro-gun crowd as well.
And it's happening fast. Faster than many will admit but slow enough where some people aren't noticing it or giving it due credit.
When I was a girl, just fifteen to twenty years ago, my brother had a hobby of making non-functional replica firearms--lever action rifles, machine guns, pistols, revolvers. He would craft them carefully out of wood and often take them with him to school to show his friends and teachers. He was praised for his craftsmanship and never once made to feel ashamed or that he had done something wrong because he enjoyed the look and mechanics of firearms. When he wasn't crafting firearms he was drawing pictures of them and learning about them and shooting them with his uncles and cousins on special days. He and our cousin would get realistic replicas as gifts and stage elaborate westerns and plays. Both my brother's handmade replicas and their store-bought ones were even used in school plays as props. The atmosphere was one of neutrality. It was understood that guns could and would do harm if misused but they were not bad in and of themselves and there was no need to fear the image of a firearm or make a boy feel badly because he liked them.
That boy grew up to join the military and make a long-standing career out of it. He still loves firearms and counts himself privileged to "play" with some of the most advanced weapon systems of our day. He teases me with reports of the thousands upon thousands of rounds he gets to fire through dozens of weapons over week or even month long trainings. His positive encounters and influence has impacted his sister (me) to the point where I have dedicated a large portion of my time to the positive influences and trainings or firearms and until recently I have never felt my status as a gun owner as a negative.
For me, it started with Columbine. I was still a girl and didn't know much about school violence. I went to a private school. I had never been bullied and never bullied (to my knowledge). It was not unusual for high school boys to have knives in their backpacks and talks of hunting and guns to go on during the lunch period. Some boys even took off time from school to go hunting and brought in pictures of themselves holding their rifles next to their downed deer. The atmosphere was a positive one. That all very suddenly changed.
There had been school shootings and violence in the past, there was a new level of fear and caution that had not been present before. Suddenly, the idea of bringing a hand-crafted toy gun to school was deeply frowned upon. A boy who had been expelled from a local public school and enrolled in ours brought a weapon to school and though no one was hurt or even threatened, with the new awareness to gun violence it was suddenly against the rules to bring any sort of weapon to school. It made sense, sure, but it also made a point of instilling a fear of firearms into a bunch of kids who had previously only seen them in that neutral light of machines of interest or of use in hunting or home protection. We weren't used to the negativity but we adapted quickly.
Firearms were not on the mind in college. There were rules against them, of course, but I was more concerned with my studies and my boyfriends than I was any type of firearms. When my boyfriend (now husband) told me he was getting his concealed carry permit I remember saying, "People can do that?" and asking him why he wanted one. He said that after four years of carrying a firearm in the military it seemed kind of weird not to have one and that response made sense to me. There was no fear. I didn't wonder if he was suffering from some mental illness or that he would go crazy. I didn't worry that he was going to get PTSD and go shoot someone. Guns were neutral. He wanted to carry one. It was within his legal rights to do that. Okay.
Then we got married and I got a job in the public school system. Guns suddenly became a big thing. Virginia Tech happened and the building I worked in got a shooting threat. I didn't know tensions could get so high for so many people all at once. By that time I was already a concealed carrier and there was no law against me carrying at work and so I did. While some coworkers were talking about escape routes and hiding under desks or even taking vacation time to get away from work I was planning offensive strategies and going to the range to make sure my aim was up to the task of potentially responding to an active shooter. I was finding places of cover and identifying fatal funnels. I was not afraid (even if I should have been). But I saw that many people were.
I had not been super secretive about my appreciation for firearms and when the tensions were at their highest people started to target me. They didn't understand why I liked guns. They thought all guns should be banned except for law enforcement or military. For the first time in my life I saw how my fondness for firearms could negatively affect my life through my job.
And that conflict was only made greater when I took a second job at a gun store. I loved my new job. I had more fun than I could express and it was a joy to work behind a gun counter. I was shooting daily and enjoying being around people who did not think me strange or odd or question my mental health or stability because I had an appreciation for firearms. When there was a hint of a threat, instead of people worrying and fretting we got together and made tactical decisions based on who had the best shooting skills and most experience. At my job in education my circle of friends was getting smaller at the range it was getting bigger. How sad that something I enjoyed drew such a harsh line in the sand.
When some coworkers from my education job came in to the range one day to shoot they looked at me in horror and later begged me not to tell anyone at work that they were there. They didn't want it to get out that they liked shooting.
Eventually I left my job in education to work at the gun store and range full time. It was a great decision and one that I have never regretted.
Since those years I've seen the negativity grow and grow. I recently had a family member say that she is uncomfortable driving in a vehicle with me or would not come to my home because of my firearms.
I have acquaintances who will not allow their children over to our home because we are gun owners. And no matter how little that may affect my own personal outlook to gun ownership, in the eyes of my child, who loves his friends and only wants to play with them, he may one day come to a conclusion that says, "Well, if Mom and Dad didn't have those stupid guns I could have been able to have fun with so-and-so." The negativity has set in. And it is a bitch to get out.
While it's not necessarily a brand new occurrence, just yesterday I was sent a message by someone who said he wished someone would take my gun and shoot me with it.
Children are expelled from schools for drawing pictures of guns or even pointing their fingers in a way that could be misinterpreted as a gun. A deaf child was asked to change his sign language version of his name because it resembled a gun. A friend of mine who's little boy brought a Halo action figure with a gun to a play date was asked to the action figure's gun in the car. This is doing nothing but bathing the psyche of children in an over-all negativity to firearms that will not be easy to defeat if it can be defeated at all.
And the results are already starting to show.
I'm starting to see the negativity spewed from the supposed gun supporters!
The same baseless fears are catching on in the gun community to a frightening degree.
Parents who will not let their children play with toy guns because of the "negativity" or fear that they will not be able to learn the difference between toys and reality or that they won't be accepted in school. Parents who have guns but won't even tell their children they have them because of the fear that they will tell their friends and it will get out that they are gun owners (granted, I do understand this response if there is a child or child's friend who is questionable and you feel would attempt to steal or otherwise be dangerous with the gun). People who beg coworkers not to let it out that they were seen a gun range.
A few days ago I read an article saying that people in the medical, educational, political and entertainment fields are getting to the point where they fear speaking positively about guns for fear of losing work.
That is frightening.
And it goes to show you that the anti gunners are winning. They are winning a cultural war against the gun that will not be able to be reversed if it is left to progress much further. When our children are grown they will see a cultural disadvantage to gun ownership. They may even think us crazy or mislead or archaic. They may shrug when it's time to hand in their guns.
How do we fight it? I have my ideas but I want to hear yours. How do you think we can reverse the cultural fear of the gun?