OPINION – We haven’t done anything wrong, but we’ve seen the looks of disapproval. We’ve heard the slurs used to describe us. Any public display of our lifestyle invites fear, loathing, or anger. Some people want us closeted. Others want us locked up or done away with.
This is how the culture war divides us.
Three friends and I spent this past weekend steeped in the positive side of the gun culture. What positive side, you ask? It’s the side of gun ownership that is seldom shown in our media. It’s the side that would prompt roughly 500 people from all across the country to meet in the Nevada desert to be trained.
We traveled to Front Sight Firearms Training Institute to learn skill at arms. The classes were filled with grandparents, teenagers, and men and women of every age in between. Whether rifle, shotgun, or handgun; the courses challenged everyone physically and mentally.
It was an amazing cross section of American society.
Our handgun class included cattle ranchers, business owners, a contract manager, a software programmer, police officers, a mechanic, and a teacher, to name a few. Some were returning students but many were receiving their first formal defensive firearms training.
All of us came with the intent to become more competent and responsible firearms owners.
The classes were highly demanding and fast-paced. We learned the proper handling and operation of our handguns. We were schooled in the principles of marksmanship and practiced fixing malfunctions.
These techniques serve to program short-term muscle memory. With consistent practice, after returning home, they become long-term muscle memory. In the same way that we don’t have to think about how to catch a ball, these firearm skills eventually become reflexive. But this was only the physical aspect of our training.
In classroom lectures we learned the importance of the proper mindset. The instructors taught us the color code of awareness and how to spot trouble before it is unavoidable. The personal defense firearm may only come into play when defending innocent life from an immediate, unavoidable threat of death or great bodily harm.
We learned of the criminal and civil liabilities that arise when deadly force is used in self-defense. Even in a perfectly justifiable shooting, there is a steep price to be paid socially, emotionally, and economically. We have to weigh whether it’s better to pay that price or to suffer the consequences of a criminal attack. But the criminal is the one who chooses to set these events into motion.
There are many things over which we have control, but whether or not we will eventually cross paths with such a criminal is not one of them.
This is a side of the gun culture that is missing from virtually every media portrayal of gun owners. The gun owner image favored by most editorial boards or news outlets is a Floyd R. Turbo character straight from central casting. But there were no grim-faced, paranoid, anti-social people in evidence during our training.
Instead, our fellow students were cheerful, productive, law-abiding people from every walk of life. The school we attended trains nearly 40,000 students every year. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of such schools across the country.
My friends completed their first handgun class sore, tired, and a bit sunburned. But they were emphatic that it was a solid investment of their time and money. They were empowered to defend themselves and their loved ones, but also they clearly understood when armed self-defense is necessary. How can this be a negative to society?
Those who see firearms in private hands as an all-encompassing threat simply don’t know what they don’t know. Not everyone wants to own a gun, but all those who do could benefit from quality training. This is why I have a goal of getting as many friends, coworkers, and acquaintances as possible to come and train with me.
I can’t change the minds of the masses. But each individual who accepts my encouragement to get training becomes a positive example of gun ownership.
Who knows? Maybe someday we’ll be culturally acceptable again.
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives talk show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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