The latest verbal salvo in the cultural civil war’s been fired by a gun store in Jefferson City, Missouri that declared on social media it had no firearms and ammunition available for anyone who cast their vote for Joe Biden in November.
Trigger Firearms and Reloading triggered some angry responses in return, with some supposed gun owners from the Left in high dudgeon and declaring that the store was going to lose support (and cash) for reason other than politics. Most of the comments check on the store’s Facebook post are highly supportive of the unenforceable boycott, but firearms instructor Rob Pincus weighed in calling it “cutting off your nose to spite your face” and linking to a recent post at the organization 2AO on the need for Democrat-voting gun owners to stand up, but also for the broader 2A community to recognize them.
The Republicans lost the Senate and we have a pro-control President. Is it not obvious that we need left leaning and moderate gun owners’ voices to be heard? Is it not obvious that we need to reign in those in our community who play to the Culture War and Identity Politics narratives? It is well established that there are millions of “closeted” gun owners in the United States. People who, for any number of reasons, don’t wear their gun ownership proudly. For many of them, it is the fear of being associated with extreme right wing culture. The fear of being associated with what NRA TV had become before it died. The fear of being associated with the violence at the US Capital on January 6th. The fear of being associated with the people who dress like a character from a video game when they go to their State Capitals to protest gun restrictions. Regardless of how you feel about any of those groups, you must see the importance of allowing gun owners who don’t want to be associated with them to be a vocal part of our community. While we have down a great job of celebrating gender and racial diversity in the gun community, we have done a horrible job of allowing thought diversity. It is time we not only allow it, but we embrace it.
There’s no doubt that the balkanization of society has accelerated over the past few years, which has put the Second Amendment community’s big tent under some severe strain. After all, it’s hard to come together to defend the right to keep and bear arms with people you think are intent on destroying the Constitution, and increasingly we view our political opponents as an existential threat to our way of life.
The right to keep and bear arms is still a right of “the people,” however. It isn’t predicated on what you look like, where you live, who you voted for, how much money you make, or how powerful and connected you might be. I have no issue working with folks from the Left in opposition to gun control, even though that may be one of our few points of agreement.
Politics isn’t a purity contest. In fact, the more you try to purge a movement with the idea of leaving only the true believers behind, the more you end up punching yourself in the face. Movements win by swelling their ranks. They lose by winnowing out those who won’t march in lockstep with the revolutionary vanguard.
Will I work with another individual to block Joe Biden’s gun ban and “buyback” even if, say, they support red flag laws and I don’t? Absolutely. I’d only be kneecapping my own activism if I declared that I’ll only work with those I agree with 100% of the time. Will I continue to talk to them in an effort to persuade them to my position on the issues where we disagree? You better believe it.
But that’s politics. Trigger Firearms and Reloading’s rejection of Biden voters who now want to purchase a gun isn’t just a political stand. It’s also branding for the business, and in deep-red Missouri it’s sure to garner the shop some new customers even as they proclaim they’re willing to turn others away.
As a Second Amendment advocate, I certainly can’t adopt an exclusionary attitude towards those I disagree with politically, even though I too have some questions about someone who values the Second Amendment casting their vote for the most anti-gun candidate in U.S. history. If I were a red state gun store owner, however, I might have a different point of view, and business is busy enough at the moment that I could tick off a certain portion of my customer base without suffering any negative impacts.
Regardless of how well we get along or how silo-ed we become, the fact of the matter is that gun ownership is becoming more common among folks across the political spectrum. I happen to think that’s a good thing, especially long term, but I get the frustration from conservative gun owners, who probably feel like a native-born Texan watching Californians suddenly flock to his state. We’re glad you’re here, but don’t forget why you left the last place.
If your right of self-defense is now important enough to you that you’re exercising your right to keep and bear arms, you owe it to yourself and those who’ve come before you to start defending that right instead of quietly conceding or even actively supporting attempts to curtail it.
Conversely, if you’re a longtime Second Amendment activist and not just a conservative who likes their guns, then I think you owe it to yourself and those who’ve fought alongside you to help swell the ranks with reinforcements, even if they’re not yet the tried and true supporter that you are.