When you hear the words “New Yorker,” you likely think anti-gun. Let’s be fair; there’s a reason for that. The Big Apple is known for being the most anti-gun location in the country.
New Yorker magazine doesn’t exactly have a lot of pro-Second Amendment street cred either. Instead, it’s lumped in with all the other mainstream media outlets that constantly bash our rights as if they’re something dirty that we should be ashamed of.
However, earlier this week, something odd happened. I came across a story that didn’t paint guns as some horrible evil.
Several years ago, while on a road trip, Sharif Hamza, a British-born photographer who lives with his wife and two daughters in Brooklyn, met a grade-school kid with a shotgun in the Arizona desert. Watching the boy’s father patiently instruct him in safety procedures, Hamza was struck by how different the interaction was from the culture he grew up in, where soccer was the game in the park and the rich kids might golf or ski, but shooting was practically unheard-of.
Curious, Hamza reached out to 4-H clubs—which teach riflery along with animal husbandry—and began to attend youth competitions associated with the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade group that also puts on one of the largest gun shows in the world. Outside of cities and their suburbs, Hamza says, “shooting felt as common as skateboarding.”
This is not an accident. With gun-advocacy groups investing heavily in youth recruitment and manufacturers catering to an emerging children’s market, the shooting sports are gaining in popularity. (Before [the Parkland killer] was expelled from Stoneman Douglas, he was a member of a varsity riflery team that benefitted from a ten-thousand-dollar grant from the National Rifle Association.) Shooting generally places few physical demands; advocates present it as a safe sport, with little incidence of injury (unlike soccer, or, for that matter, skiing). With no discernible disparity between the sexes, it is also portrayed as an empowering one. Millennials’ attitudes about guns cut along seemingly opposing lines: most support fewer restrictions on which weapons can be bought but tighter regulations on who can buy them.
Hamza admits he was met with some friction from families who didn’t want their kids thrust into political debates, which is understandable. And yes, we cover a lot of politics here, but I’m not going to include any of the photos because I do not have the rights to them and because I will respect those parents’ stances.
What is positive is that it shows that kids and guns aren’t an automatic recipe for disaster.
Recently, I saw something on social media asking if parents should be blocked from teaching their kids to shoot at all. The fact that someone even asked that is troubling to me. You see, I learned to shoot as a kid. My firearm training began early, just like my own kids’ training. The idea of barring them from even learning is troubling, yet I can foresee this becoming an issue we need to address.
Oddly enough, Hamza’s photos may help to quell that when it sparks up.
Make no mistake; these are kids who are simply enjoying the sport. They like to shoot, and none of these kids are going to end up on the news for shooting up their school. It’s just not a risk.
I urge you to go and check out the photos of these amazing kids.