I’m blessed to have friends and colleagues from all walks of life. With that comes different political views and perspectives. I have differing opinions from many of those that I connect with personally. To be perfectly honest, we can communicate reasonably and agree to disagree on those subjects we don’t see eye to eye. Firearms are a hot-button issue, which they should not be. The polarization and politicization of our inalienable rights to keep and bear arms have created a rift in The United States.
One recent conversation I had with someone that is not “into” firearms (or many things I am politically into) was reasonably pleasant. We just talked. It was more than cordial, and several times throughout our meanderings through different subjects, things like “Oh, I did not know that” were said. I took the opportunity to state facts plainly versus feelings. I pointed out where things go south with our media and even drew from studies funded by anti-freedom organizations that had findings consistent with pro-freedom groups. Topics like mass shootings were discussed. The number of so-called “mass shootings” has gone down over the years, but the media coverage has gone up.
I do discuss polarizing things with another friend. He happens to be from Australia, where the gun culture is much different than that in The United States. While the gun-owning population there can be somewhat akin to that of the US, the overall population seems to take a more centralist, if not a prohibitionist, view on the subject of arms. When these silly things like facts get brought up, most of them are seemingly dismissed by him, reverting back to “feelings.”
Enter stage left: COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic and different levels of civil unrest in the United States have led to astonishing numbers of new gun owners. With numbers of new gun owners hovering around over 8 million at the time of writing this, it is safe to say the American gun owner’s landscape is shifting. On more than one account, I’ve reported the repeated numbers of people in my circle that have approached me on the subject of firearms. My friend from down under is no different.
“Hey, what do you think of this, buddy? I bought a pistol.” My friend said in his Aussie accent. To which I said, “That’s great, bud. What made you decide that?” He continued, “Well, with all this crazy stuff going on with the ‘Rona, and people acting out like they are, I figured I needed to get some protection.” We chitchatted more. I asked him what kind of pistol he bought, and he told me the make and model, and that decision was based on the fact it was the cheapest one he could buy at the store. I then prodded him to find out if he would get his CCW in Florida, where he resides, to which he said “no.” I was perplexed by the notion that he was scared for his safety but not thinking several steps ahead and why having a CCW would benefit him. After all, civil unrest and the “crazy stuff” that was happening from “the ‘Rona’” is what pushed him to make this decision. To each his own.
I then prodded him about training and if he was going to get some. To which he replied, “Ah, what do you mean I need training? I know what I gotta do. I put the bullets in the clip, slap it in, pull back the thing on the top, and I’m ready to go.” He said this very matter of factly as if he were nonchalantly throwing some shrimp on the barbie (I jest). I sighed. I pointed him in the direction of some resources that he could read at his leisure, and fear my advice fell on deaf ears.
We can have political divides and differing opinions. There is nothing wrong with having a different viewpoint. As noted earlier, one person I can talk with is open to at least hearing the facts, indicating that they were not aware of them. In the latter case, my Aussie friend is more dismissive to contrary views on certain subjects, guns being a big one. Don’t even dare talk poorly about “the Queen.” What is not negotiable, as well as being apolitical, is the subject of gun safety. Is my friend’s political stance a reason for his aloof view towards being trained in firearms? No, not necessarily. But this dynamic, no matter what side of the political divide one is on, seems to fit the bill for anyone that exhibits a level of arrogance. In a past article, NEW FIREARM USERS COMING OUTTA THE WOODWORK – “WHAT IS THE BEST GUN TO BUY?”, the two people being discussed were both staunchly conservative. There is nothing negative about that. However, one person adopted what I consider a good mentality, and the other subscribed to a mentality I would not. Ignorance is blind to political affiliation.
In my opinion, people that subscribe to the “just slap the bullets in the gun” or “this is what so and so told me to get, so I’m gonna” mentalities are dangerous. Entering into the world of firearm use and ownership comes with great responsibility, and thinking needs to be done. Beyond thought, actively training and practicing with your arms needs to be done. If you’ve decided that exercising your Second Amendment right is what you want to do, do so in an educated manner. Seek good and proper training and build on that with practice and your research. To borrow a phrase from my friend from down under, when it comes to guns, you can’t just “shut up and chop wood” – that is, get the job done without thinking.
Since writing this, I asked my buddy about his pistol again. He said he has yet to make it to the range, although he would like to. But then followed up by saying, “Well, this ‘Rona stuff is almost behind us, so I don’t really need it anymore.”
Stay safe out there and think before you do!
John Petrolino is a US Merchant Marine Officer, writer, author of “Decoding Firearms: An Easy to Read Guide on General Gun Safety & Use” and USCCA certified instructor, NRA certified pistol, rifle, and shotgun instructor living under and working to change New Jersey’s draconian and unconstitutional gun laws. You can find him on the web at www.johnpetrolino.com on Twitter at @johnpetrolino and on Instagram @jpetrolinoiii