Competitive Shooter Busts Stereotypes About Gun Owners

AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

One of the things I love most about the Second Amendment community is the fact that you can find folks from all walks of life who are out and proud gun owners. The idea that every gun owner is a 4B (bearded, bellied, ball-capped Bubba) like, well, me, I suppose, has long been out-of-date. These days you can find gun owners in virtually any demographic you can come up with, which is as it should be given that we're talking about a right of we the people.  

One of those gun owners is Amazin LeThi. I confess that I'd never heard of the weightlifter, bodybuilder, author, and LGBT activist until I stumbled across a Q & A with her and the website Queerty (which I'd also never heard of) discussing, among other things, her love of competitive shooting

QUEERTY: What sparked your interest in shooting?

AMAZIN LÊTHI: With all of the work I do in sports around equality, I’m constantly meeting elite professional athletes. And my spark around competing started again. For shooting, I don’t have to train physically every single day. It’s a different kind of sport. It’s really training your mind.

I love entering rooms and spaces where you don’t normally see people who look like me. In the U.S. with the gun culture, it’s very white and very Republican. When you look at shooting competitions, you don’t see many people who look like me, and there are very few LGBTQ people. But I love the sport. Aside from being mentally exhausting, t’s very physically exhausting. I find it a very calming sport as well. In other sports, your mind can wander, but in shooting, you have to stayed focused for that time you’re shooting. It helps keep me in the present.

What kind of looks do you get when you step into the room?

It’s very interesting! I train in the South, but it’s actually one of the friendliest sports that I’ve come across. Maybe it’s because everyone has a loaded gun, so there’s a politeness or currency. But when you’re sitting outside waiting for the gun club to open, it’s not like you have a loaded gun in your hand. I think it comes down to this gun culture. We can bond over guns. There’s a strange culture in the gun community about this bond over guns, and it doesn’t matter. Whereas in other sports, it really does matter what you look like. There’s something about the gun culture. 

Shooting is also a very individual sport. When you’re at the range, it’s just you and your trainer practicing. I haven’t encountered any hostility. I’ve actually been celebrated within the shooting community, because as an athlete, I’m good at shooting!

I love this. LeThi is not only a prime example of the fact that gun ownership and the shooting sports are for all of us to enjoy, she's helping to dispel the stereotypes that are still perpetuated when it comes to who gun owners are. As she says, it's one of the friendliest sports around. No matter how different she might be from her fellow range-goers, they can still bond and connect over shooting. 

I'm guessing that LeThi's comments will come as a shock to many of Queerty's readers (though probably not her fellow gun owners). There's a sizeable portion of the left (and a smaller portion of the right, to be fair) that just can't wrap its collective head around the fact that gun owners come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and creeds... or that we all generally get along quite well with one another. 

In a day and age of deepening divisions, finding these connections is more important than ever. While the gun control lobby claims that guns are partly to blame for our culture war fights, the truth is that it's their attempts to disarm us that's really the issue. Guns are actually bringing people together who would never spend time with each other otherwise, and that's not only good for the future of our Second Amendment rights. It's good for the future of this country too.