I don’t expect much fair treatment from the media. As a gun owner and writer, I look at my colleagues in the mainstream media not so much as colleagues, but as the opposition. Typically, they’ll paint someone like me as anything but a decent human being, so it’s understandable why.
However, Forbes recently did a story about how difficult it is for reasonable gun owners to deal with what they see as unreasonable anti-gunners.
But gun business owners who say they want to engage in a real dialogue about how to make America safer say they aren’t sure they can – both because of the lack of information on the other side of the issue, and because they’re losing trust that gun control advocates are acting in good faith. Most people, says Jeff Wait, the owner of Okeechobee Shooting Sports in Central Florida, think more gun laws will be a quick fix to a really hard problem. He doesn’t believe gun laws could fix anything.
“It doesn’t bother me that somebody has a different opinion,” says Wait. “What bothers me more is that people fall for the misinformation. It bothers me that we have the ability to get the information based on fact, and as a society many people choose not to.”
Why, for instance, the focus on the AR-15? asks Wait. “Semiautomatic rifles are used in 1-2% of the shootings.” (Of course, it’s been used in many of the most horrific shootings, but focusing on that means viewing the issue through an emotional lens, which to his mind is a mistake.)
On top of that, he says, it’s one of the least powerful hunting rifles. When I asked him about the interviews of ER doctors who talk about the horrific injuries that result from an AR-15, he said that doctors who see mainly handgun injuries might not know that all rifles are much more powerful, and that one way or another, criminals will find ways to get the guns they want.
To Wait, who often engages in conversations with the media, the best-case scenario is that people are ill-informed and driven by emotion. The worst-case scenario is that gun control advocates are lying about their real intentions to respect gun rights. “If they’re honest they would want to ban everything,” he said.
It’s a fairly balanced piece and doesn’t paint gun owners in too negative a light. It does mention some of our more extreme folks, which we all know exist. Hell, I’m pretty sure some people lump me in that category. In some ways, I probably am. I’m an absolutist, after all.
That said, I also support property rights, so if a gun store wants my weapon in a bag too and from the store, that is certainly their right and not an infringement on my Second Amendment rights.
Back to the Forbes story, I get where these folks are coming from. Most gun control activists want, at least on some level, to see all the guns gone from private ownership. They campaign for smaller levels of control because they know they won’t get what they want.
We’ve seen their counterparts in other countries continue to lash out about how the strict gun control in their nations aren’t enough and how they need more. This is our future if we give any more ground, and we know it. Just in the last week, I’ve written about this happening in Canada and South Africa. Why would it be any different here? Especially since anti-gunners point to other countries as examples of how we should do it?
The truth is, the whole discussion feels dishonest because we know that it won’t stop here. If we give up the AR-15s and swallow background checks on everything, we’ll then have to swallow something else later when that doesn’t work. It’ll keep going and going and going. It won’t stop, and we all know it.
But when you try to discuss guns and gun rights and you find yourself accused of actually supporting mass murder, it’s kind of hard not to get a little defensive. I sure did.
So yeah, it’s hard to be reasonable. It’s so hard. I barely have any desire to try.