USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- A former executive of a gun company recently fell into a trap laid for all of us who know and use guns.
That trap is elitism – the idea that because we’ve invested the time and effort into learning gun safety and skills, that we’re an elite fraternity. The “only-ones” qualified to safely and responsibly handle firearms. What’s worse, those who fall into this trap will often fall farther, into the trap of believing that the government can, and should, be the gatekeeper to our elite fraternity. That’s how this former gun company executive ended up publicly opposing legislation to liberalize concealed carry laws in Montana.
It’s a lesson for all of us.
Guns are dangerous tools. We people of the gun understand that fact better than those who get their firearm knowledge from movies and television. Many people who have little experience with firearms have an irrational fear of them. They have the same sort of feelings about guns as my lovely wife has about snakes and large, hairy spiders. They seem to think that the gun will either just “go off” at any moment, or that its mere presence will somehow inspire murderous intent in the minds of otherwise peaceful people.
That’s fear based on ignorance and misinformation. Fortunately, that fear can be mitigated, and often completely alleviated, with a little bit of familiarization and training.
Unfortunately, there are also people who are very familiar with guns, who have a different type of irrational fear and magical thinking. They fall into the trap of elitism. They consider themselves to be completely reasonable and rational, and totally pro-gun. But they have convinced themselves that they are among the “only ones” who have the training and experience necessary to safely and responsibly own and/or carry firearms. Gun people know this type well, and the more self-aware of us recognize that we ourselves could easily fall into this trap too.
Those who have been around for a while might recall a video of the famous, almost-last words of the DEA agent who was giving a gun safety lecture at a local community center. Holding up a handgun, the agent declares, “This is a Glock 40 … I’m the only one in this room professional enough – that I know of – to carry this Glock 40. I’m the only….” BANG! He literally shoots himself in the foot!
Shot Himself In The Foot: That’s exactly what a former executive of the Kimber company, Ryan Busse, did figuratively recently.
He waved his “only ones” flag high in a short guest editorial in a couple of Montana newspapers and figuratively shot himself in the foot in the process. He was speaking out against a bill, HB 102, in the State Legislature that, if passed, would remove many of the few remaining restrictions on concealed carry in the state. Busse declared his gun owner credentials and repeatedly pointed at bars and college campuses as places that would “invite” gun-related tragedies if HB 102 were to become law. He talked about the firearms training he received from his father and from Hunter Safety Education courses, then launched into the type of irrational assumptions that elitists always leap to. The primary among them being the idea that laws restricting concealed carry are somehow preventing stupid or malevolent people from doing stupid or malevolent things with firearms.
Busse’s assumptions aren’t borne out by experience in other states – or in Montana itself. Laws restricting concealed carry don’t prevent crime or stupidity, and loosening those restrictions won’t make stupidity more or less likely, though there is some evidence that crime goes down as lawful concealed carry goes up.
Busse’s attitude reminds me of the classic George Carlin bit about the three types of drivers on the road: 1. Idiots who drive slower than me, 2. Lunatics who drive faster than me, and 3. Me, who drives just right. Busse seems to think there are similarly, three types of people who might carry a concealed firearm: 1. Those like him, who “grew up with a rifle in one hand and a shotgun in the other,” with decades of training and experience, who nevertheless need the government to tell them where and when it is safe and reasonable for them to carry a firearm, 2. Fools with no training, who will foolishly carry and foolishly harm innocents, if not prohibited from doing so, and 3. Criminals who will malevolently carry and harm innocents, if not prohibited from doing so.
This issue, like virtually all of the gun control debate, boils down to a simple matter of trust. Do you trust your fellow Americans to be responsible and conscientious, or do you expect them to behave irresponsibly and with indifference to their own and others’ safety and welfare, unless they have a regulatory mandate to do so?
We all know people who we consider to be not particularly responsible or safety conscious, and it’s easy to let our concerns about those people sway our thinking about the broader population, but those same people that pique our mistrust over guns, probably have drivers licenses, use matches, charcoal lighter fluid, power tools, and even have access to alcohol and other mind-altering substances that are known to impair judgment. Yet the vast majority of them manage to muddle through life without killing themselves or anyone else.
A gun in a holster on a person’s waist, is more akin to car keys in their pocket, than to operating a motor vehicle. The only rule they need to follow in order to be completely safe carrying a gun is to leave the gun in the holster unless absolutely necessary. Over 99.9% of the millions of people legally carrying a firearm manage to obey that rule every day. Walking around with a gun safely secured in its holster – regardless of where they might be – is not nearly as dangerous as driving around with all of the idiots and lunatics. Consider that you routinely whip past other drivers from 16 to 96, at closing speeds of over 100 miles per hour, with nothing between your car and theirs but a faded yellow line on the asphalt.
Every gun law should always be looked at in personal terms because it is impinging on your individual rights. Supporters of restrictions couch them in terms of “those other people,” but gun control laws are always about you. Are you too irresponsible to be trusted with a gun? Are you likely to harm an innocent if you’re not prohibited from carrying in a particular place? Do restrictions on concealed carry make anyone safer from you?
It’s easy to fall into the trap of elitism, but really, what makes you any better or more qualified than the next person, and what gives you the right to make such a critical and personal decision for them? Sure there are people that are less responsible, less thoughtful, less scrupulous, and potentially more dangerous than others, but laws about when and where you can carry a gun, generally have little to no impact on the few of those people who might actually pose a risk.
Don’t be like Ryan Busse and fall into the trap of thinking that you’re better than others. Gun control laws are about you, and, regardless of what your mother might have told you, you’re just not that special.
Former Employee Does Not Speak For Kimber
It is worth noting that Kimber quickly and publicly disavowed the comments of their former employee, and expressed their strong support for the legislation in question. I haven’t, however, seen anything about them making a generous contribution to the Montana Shooting Sports Association, the group that has pushed the carry reform bill.
As of this writing, the bill, HB 102, is expected to pass through both houses of the Montana Legislature and be signed by the Governor within a few days.
About Jeff Knox:
Jeff Knox is a second-generation political activist and director of The Firearms Coalition. His father Neal Knox led many of the early gun rights battles for your right to keep and bear arms. Read Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War.
The Firearms Coalition is a loose-knit coalition of individual Second Amendment activists, clubs, and civil rights organizations. Founded by Neal Knox in 1984, the organization provides support to grassroots activists in the form of education, analysis of current issues, and a historical perspective of the gun rights movement. The Firearms Coalition has offices in Buckeye, Arizona and Manassas, VA. Visit: www.FirearmsCoalition.