Why Is It So Difficult To Talk About Guns?

Rifles1905-2

Obviously most of us on this site, both readers and writers are already predisposed to an affinity for things related to firearms. As such we generally use the correct terminology (and enjoy ribbing each other for misuse: muzzle break/brake anyone?).  And we also live in our own little microcosm.

Keeping this out of the political bashing realm, who here has noticed a distinct lack of even base knowledge, where firearms are related, what with all of the current events. [*Tom raises his hand*]

I have seen more poor information being promulgated in the past two weeks on everything from the nightly news to social media to discussions with my inner monkey sphere (google it for an entertaining, though NSFW, read). Some of the misinformation is conceptual and some is purely technical.

I’m sure nearly everyone here has seen the “bullet button” interview on the web at this point, where information was so grossly wrong that I literally saw someone shout at the screen with waving hands (okay maybe it was me). We have people thinking that “automatic” weapons are widely available to John Q. Public, or that you can buy guns on some sort of Amazon and bypass NICS (though apparently my late, and uber awesome, Father-in-law ordered a surplussed 1911 for somewhere around $10 back in the early 60’s, which was delivered to him via the post office, smothered in cosmoline). And, of course, we cannot ignore our own internal clip versus magazine debate (which is my own personal trigger point).

I would argue that some degree of the fear in the “gun control” crowd (and even public at large) is due largely to ignorance related to poor education about the relatively simple mechanical devices we know as guns. No matter how much crap you hang from your picatinny rails, your rifle is not suddenly more lethal. A “bullet button” does not convert a semi-auto into fully automatic.

So what can we do as lovers of firearms, and of this industry? I see more finger pointing and disparaging comments (and reposting of “OMG” posts on social media; which even I have fallen into) going on than really anything productive. Can we as a body of supporters help to better educate people in a non-combative or insulting manner? Can we take the mystery out of guns to those that have not been exposed to them? Is it even possible at this point to have a rational and informative discussion with our neighbors and family and friends? Would better general education help the discussion?  Ultimately how do we put some water on this fire and decrease the polarization?

As an aside, how do you readers that are not in the United States carry on discussions regarding firearms with your friends and family? I’d be interested to hear if you encounter the same challenges and issues.



Tom is a former Navy Corpsman that spent some time bumbling around the deserts of Iraq with a Marine Recon unit, kicking in tent flaps and harassing sheep. Prior to that he was a paramedic somewhere in DFW, also doing some Executive Protection work between shifts. Now that those exciting days are behind him, he has embraced his inner “Warrior Hippie” and assaults 14er in his sandals and beard, or engages in rucking adventure challenges while consuming craft beer. To fund these adventures, he writes medical software and builds websites and mobile apps. His latest venture is as one of the founders of IronSights.com; a search engine for all things gun related. He hopes that his posts will help you find solid gear that will survive whatever you can throw at it–he is known (in certain circles) for his curse…ahem, ability…to find the breaking point of anything.


Advertisement

  • MrEllis

    It’s going to take more to realize why average Americans are not informed about guns than just suggesting they are ignorant. If it’s really a point of discourse it can be explored, if it’s just to sate an internal dialog there isn’t much reason to go beyond your initial statement.

  • Timmy

    I have never fired a firearm and visit your blog a few times a week because I am curious and enjoy it. I live in the UK.
    I think that the issue you put your finger on is that the anti-gun people see their views as reflecting their virtue as individuals, and that the gun is a part of the identity of those who support owning and carrying them. As such each side of the argument is a threat to something vital and fundamental to the proponents of the other.

    Rational and factual debates are difficult to have in areas dominated by identity politics…

    • Goody

      The UK has some beautiful rifle ranges. I’m not sure how you get started from scratch over there, but I hear it’s not that hard.

    • Sulaco

      The “ignorance” on the left is intentional it supports the narrative, look at Obamies speeches and his total lack of true on guns and the issues around them. He knows the truth but like all pols he subverts it to support his/her narrative of the moment.

      • gusto

        it is totally unfair to call it a left-issue

        atleast here in Europe the opposition comes from all walks of politics

        many leftwingers are very pro-hunting and guns because traditionally guns and hunting were only allowed the nobility so by tradition they have been fighting for those rights

        • nadnerbus

          In US politics, the gun restriction comes almost totally from the Democratic party. There are some Republican politicians that are anti-gun, but they usually don’t go too far with it, as it will usually hurt them at the polls.

          So at least in the states, with the 2 party system, it is broadly a cause of the left.

          • Out of the Blue

            I will also add that there are some otherwise left-leaning individuals in the US who oppose gun control measures. I don’t, however, know if there are any left at the federal level, or if they were all replaced in the crimson tide of 2014 by Republicans, not counting some earlier Sanders positions, which he seems to have abandoned by now.

          • nadnerbus

            Oh yes, of course. There are plenty of politically liberal or progressive people that are pro gun. There are still a few federal level Democrats that are pro gun too, usually from states like Alaska and the like where anti-gun attitudes are political poison.That particular view just doesn’t find much support at the party platform level in the Democratic party anymore though.

          • Will

            And/or are restricted to ultra-liberal cities. Bloomberg is an example of that. Anywhere but NYC he’d be a Dem.

          • 2hotel9

            Bloomberg has always been a Democrat. Exactly what f**king moron has ever thought Bloomberg is anything other than a f**king Democrat?

          • Will

            Bloomberg.

        • De Facto

          It is a left issue here in America. It’s part of the democratic party’s platform. Gun ownership, personal responsibility and independence are the antithesis of everything the left stands for.

        • TexTopCat

          You do bring up an interesting point. Most people today are not hunters and certainly not for status. People today own guns for sport (e.g. good family fun) and self protection.

  • noob

    I have a feeling that the misuse of gun terms is rooted in the same reason why office manager types of the pointy haired variety keep referring to the computer tower case on the desk as the “CPU”.

    “How much will it cost to upgrade my cpu?” Oh god. Here we go again…

    People just don’t care, man. We live in a careless world.

    If you don’t know the difference between a Spoiler and a Wing on your car you could modify it so that the rear end lacks stability and then subsequently kill your self. Hint: Spoilers don’t create downforce, wings do. However, spoilers do help with rear end stability if properly designed. If you take an early Euro Audi TT and replace the spoiler added after the recall with a dumb rice rocket wing and go drifting, you can kiss your rear end goodbye and then join the five dead people who prompted the recall in the first place.

    People just don’t care, man. People just don’t care.

    • ostiariusalpha

      Calling the computer tower a CPU is what is known as a synecdoche, it’s not an abuse of technical terms; the ALU, processor register, and control unit are not sneaking around in the mouse, keyboard, or monitor after all. Feeling smug when someone refers to the tower as a CPU is just dickishness that tech nerds indulge in when there’s so many real fallacies that computer illiterates desperately need to be cured of. Though managerial types probably don’t even know what CPU actually means.

      • noob

        Well, how much will it cost to upgrade that manager’s CPU? $250 for the chip? $2000 for a new tower with all the guts in it? Yes the manager wants more performance, but how much more? If the budget is only good for a parts upgrade on the whole fleet of computers OR a full upgrade for a select few and the bottleneck is not the actual CPU chip itself then this leads to long circular meetings that are no fun for anyone.

        “CPUs are only a couple of hundred bucks, why can’t you make all the office computers faster?” – actual quote.

        Yes there are many many more fallacies that people need to be cured of. Incognito browsing is not a cloak of invisibility. Don’t email yourself your password. If you want to sell archived content on a monthly subscription and you want to sell more than one subscription be prepared to pay a lawyer for a lot of DCMA takedowns.

        However using CPU for Tower-case-with-guts is a lot worse than saying “Washington” when you mean “the government of the united states of america” because the context is often ambiguous and can lead to costly errors.

        With guns mixing up concepts like shroud and silencer can lead to laws being passed that become even more costly to gun owners who need to modify or dispose of their lawful possessions.

        Precision matters. Unfortunately many people coast along on the efforts of a detail oriented few.

        • ostiariusalpha

          I suppose it would get tiresome after explaining it for the 10th time to the same person, but it’s still seems better that they ask and get a clear answer before spending the money, leaving you to spell out how they’ve screwed up afterwards.

      • Paul White

        It matters when you’re asking me about upgrading. Do you really want just a new CPU, or do you want a whole new tower? When you ask for more memory for your CPU, do you mean more RAM or a bigger HDD?

    • Paul White

      “How much will it cost to upgrade my cpu?” Oh god. Here we go again…

      That’s *my* trigger. I’m not IT but I’m semi tech savvy and family ask me questions like that all the time. It can take me 10 or 20 minutes to get to what they’re actually trying to ask for.

      • ostiariusalpha

        Huh, well I admit that I just assumed a lot of guys are similar to myself and are all to eager to pontificate on any technical subject when an audience presents itself. LOL! Any time I get a question my eyes light up like I’ve spotted a 7×7 bruiser of a bull elk with the winning Powerball ticket taped to his snout and I got a tag with his name on it. I guess it must be tougher for anyone that finds it annoying to share knowledge or be helpful.

    • Hensley Beuron Garlington

      Very good analogy. I can relate to the computer terminology you started with. I’m in IT and we’ve had computers long before I was born, and yet to this day, people who have grown up with the technology all their lives do not understand the basics.

      Lack of interest and lack of education are right on point! Good comment!

    • Edeco

      I appreciate proper terminology, and I use it at least somewhat. Guns and computers no problem. But everyone has their strengths and weaknesses.

      I mean, I could talk about esoteric stuff I happen to like that would make people’s eyes glaze over on here, and I hardly hold you all in lower regard for that at all 😛

      On the other hand, there are areas of knowledge I leave to others, so much so that I would prolly use the wrong terms if I had to talk about it.

  • Alex Agius

    I live in the uk, i’ve been fortunate enough to go to other nations to shoot many of the guns that are now banned here. I talk to people about them logically and calmly. I am also fortunate enough to have a pro gun family with my father owning a shotgun in the past. You do come up against antis but it’s less often than you may think, again I use reason and logic, unless someone is listening in (and they can use the emotional bs) then they are pretty much always beaten, if people are listening in it often turns into me calmly explaining to them and them screaming like a child (because they are at a child like level of reasoning).

  • BattleshipGrey

    Too many people live “in the here and the now” to care about what history can teach them. There have always been people that carried arms, and those that didn’t (or couldn’t). Given that too many in the US think the 2A was meant for muskets, they’ll refuse to look to a much broader scale of various nations overtaking other nations, even into this century.

    People don’t care about the big picture, they only care about what their feeling, and they’ll instigate the “2 minute hate” against anyone that hurts those feelings or offends them.

    • Hensley Beuron Garlington

      Yep, you summed it up, too.
      “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it” or something like that.

  • Bear The Grizzly

    Calibers are a huge pet peeve for me. So many people think that 5.56 is this high powered anti-material round that goes through tanks like butter. That being said after trying to explain so many times to people that it’s at the bottom of centerfire rifle performance it’s hard not to just throw your hands up. You can’t teach people who are unwilling to learn.

    • PK

      Well, why not show them? I like to introduce as many people as I can to firearms, and I’ve had great luck being open and honest. When running into people who genuinely (but mistakenly) believe that an AR-15 is powerful while their hunting rifle is comparatively low powered, simply showing them both cartridges side by side and letting them compare for themselves usually does the trick.

      The nice part is that this works for people who don’t own guns and have little interest, as well – when you can show them firsthand that the 5.56x45mm is small compared to a 30-06 for example, suddenly it clicks into place that while the AR may look dangerous, it is in fact significantly less so than the usual hunting rifles they’ve seen and grown accustomed to.

      • Bear The Grizzly

        You are certainly correct and I have done just that. What I mainly meant was in an online forum like the book of faces. You can present as many facts as possible, but if someone isn’t willing to accept them you may as well be trying to explain the Earth is round to Marco Polo. I do make it a point to never lose my cool and just bow out though.

        • Cymond

          I’m not skilled at such things, but it would be cool if someone created an infographic on .223 vs traditional hunting calibers. A picture with each with stats for size, weight, velocity, and energy (and maybe a little section showing what % .30-06 surpasses .223).

      • Scott P

        I know this is an old post but I took numerous people shooting and I can count on one hand the people I changed and made pro-gun. The majority only saw the range trip that I paid for on my own dime as an extraordinary outing that you don’t go to on a daily basis like an amusement park, skydiving, going to a fancy restaurant, concert, etc. Something to check off on their bucket list only to return to their mundane existence of the TV, Facebook, Twitter, to continue to revel in their ignorance. They would continue voting (or not voting at all) for Democrat, anti-gun politicians because having guns further restricted does not affect their lives but love getting “freebies”.

        One of the numerous reasons I left my slave state knowing it was a lost cause.

  • PK

    “So what can we do as lovers of firearms, and of this industry?”

    Take a novice/complete newbie to the range and teach them the four rules. Familiarize them with single shots, bolt actions, pump actions, semi-autos, pistols, and revolvers. Once that’s done, suddenly guns aren’t an unknown in their life and they’ve had some fun, or at least some hands-on experience.

    I try to take a new shooter to the range at least once a month, and many months I’ll end up having taken someone new each weekend. I’ve introduced hundreds of people to firearms by doing this over the years, and the cost to me was very low past the investment of my time.

    If the problem is lack of direct experience and familiarity, I can see no better solution.

  • Edeco

    I don’t try to explain. On one hand, lead a horse to water. On the other as Battlship says people live in the moment, and to me that’s OK. I don’t want to proselatyze.

    Fear from ignorance I’d call an oversimplification in this case. We can explain away stuff like the bullet-button thing, but a negligent discharge really is a bad event… for those of a mind to fear there is material. Can’t force someone to have the state of mind that machines can be controlled, and to settle-down and leave it up to their fellow person to do so. Would have to preach to them, which is a weak, uncharismatic, non-fun position to be in.

  • Dwaine Dibbly

    The best thing to do, when talking to people without any gun knowledge is to stay calm, explain things with real-world examples, and offer a trip to the range or perhaps a gun show, if that’s the main point of the discussion. Lots of people simply have no experience with guns and their ignorance and fear lead them to believe what they’re told by the MSM, etc.. Break down the ignorance with information and we can shut down the fear. At that point, people can be more rational.

    • KestrelBike

      I like the range offer, but the gun show is full of so many potentially-negative images (and often unsafe handling) that it’s much, much further down the list of places I’d bring a shooting-newbie to.

      • Edeco

        Yeah, lol, no gun shows until someone’s already got some perspective. Not to look down my snood, but they’re half flea-market/craft-show, and people tend to have more time/money to collect later in life. If someone believed shooting is for aged, rural people to begin with, and that was their first exposure…

  • Major Tom

    A big part about talking about guns is too many people are closed-minded on the subject. They don’t want to know what it is.

    You could offer them a lengthy lecture showing them what a safety is and how it works, calibers, chambers, barrel shrouds (and how they aren’t “silencers”), firing pins, the difference between front sight and rear sight, what an optic is, piston (long and short stroke) vs blowback vs recoil vs direct impingement vs manual (bolt-action, pump-action, single shot, etc.) operation, proper aiming technique, the science and mathematics of ballistics, cleaning and maintenance, history of firearms, uses of firearms in all forms and finally the Golden Rule: Never aim at anything you don’t intend to destroy.

    And yet despite all that, it would for those people go in one ear and out the other in a resounding echo.

  • William Brockett

    Guns are a tool. Plain and simple – they’re just an advanced projectile launcher in the same category as archery and spitballs. The problem is that spitballs aren’t lethal, and that’s where the conversation breaks down. Anyone on the Gun Control side of the debate immediately heads for the moral high road and assumes that gun enthusiasts, casual shooters, and the guy that saw a picture of a gun in a magazine once are all going around pointing guns at everyone. GC advocates don’t bother to go any deeper into the “why” or the “what” as far as what’s interesting about guns or how they work, because they’ve already dismissed them as “killing machines” and not worth the bother. I know this, because I used to be on their side a decade ago.

    For 30 years, I had never shot a gun, my parents never owned any, and I hadn’t even handled a firearm or anything like one outside of Laser Tag in the early 90s. Then one of my co-workers offered to take me out to the range about 10 years ago for some plinking and Trap. I gave the typical business of “why does anyone need guns?” I don’t even remember the particulars of the conversation, but I know the “guns don’t shoot people, people do” response came out, and it must’ve made sense, since I headed over with him to go shoot plates and frisbees. A funny thing happened at the range, too: I didn’t get shot, no one else got shot, and I had a good time. Blasting clays out of the air was strangely gratifying, since no animals had to die, but I was basically hunting. Plinking was amazing and I immediately became addicted to handguns. I was loaned a Ruger 22/45 bull barrel and a stack of magazines to play with. The lack of recoil made it a pleasure to shoot. I also shot a 1911 chambered in .38 Super. Don’t remember the model or brand, but I didn’t get to play with it much because it was obviously an heirloom gun of sorts and ammo was expensive. I just remember it felt amazing in my hand – like the first time I ever touched a boob. Unlike a boob, it pointed naturally, I could make hits easily without really bringing up the sights, and the recoil was strong, but more like a push than a punch. I loved it and I was hooked. I spent literally hundreds and hundreds of rounds, and no casualties were sustained.

    It’s a dangerous hobby, and untrustworthy people are usually the first to distrust others when engaging in dangerous activities. It’s really about control more than people think, though. Gun control is about controlling the availability of guns, but it’s also about proper grip and stance while shooting – depending on which side of the debate you’re on. With that in mind, maybe we should be flipping the roles, then. Perhaps if more anti-gunners were persuaded onto the range and allowed to handle the very thing they despise so much as a tangible thing, rather than the idea of a thing, maybe they might soften their tone a bit. It’s easy to dismiss an idea, but to hold it in your hands and KNOW exactly what it is and how it works, then you’re replacing ideas with facts, and that’s a good thing.

    • Cymond

      Heck, I grew up with guns, i shot one for the first time when I was about 8. And yet my father, the man who taught me to shoot, was also one of those “it’s a killing machine” people.

      Several years later as a “tween” we went to a gun show together. Something caught my eye, I think it was a Glock 26. I just remember it was a small black semi-auto. My father made a comment “those are for killing people” and I was taken back. In retrospect, it was extremely strange since he kept a K-frame 357 Mag snubnose in his work truck, which funds the save roll as a subcompact Glock.

      He also talked about ‘assault weapons’ and how the AR-15 was bad because they could be converted to full-auto so easily and how police never knew what to expect when they encountered one. Again, it was bizarre considering he once admitted to me that he helped a friend convert a M1 Carbine to M2 configuration. Yes, as in full-auto.

  • 2hotel9

    Major Tom?!?! DingDingDing!!!!!!!! You win the intratubes for teh day. You can not teach a person who is unwilling to learn. Period. Full stop. First step is to ascertain to what degree the person you are talking with wants to learn about firearms. If there is no willingness present, stop, walk away. You are wasting time. Too many people are determined that they ARE going to teach those who are unwilling instead of concentrating on those who are willing. As The Man said,”Some men you can not reach”.

    • charlesrhamilton

      Which is the way he wants it.

  • Matrix3692

    I live in Malaysia, and for the majority of my high school and post-high school memories, I’m always considered the “freak” who follows firearms and military technology news, instead of something more fashionable, like soccer, or NBA, or hit dramas……

    And the most unforgettable moment, is during a social science class, where we have a group discussion. In the said group, I’m the only one who disagree that “the government should cancel all military procurement funds for the forseeable future”. When asked why, guess what, not one but me had a clue about basic knowledge of national defense.

    Then came the Internet, where I’m glad I’ve been able to found communities like this.

    • Hensley Beuron Garlington

      I agree with you. I’m thankful for finding supportive communities as well. I have never been a big sports fan, never cared about fashion, but I understand we all have different taste. But people are more and more confusing their interest with their priorities. This is why serious subjects have and are continuing to fall to the wayside of the public.

      The arts and entertainment have really taken priority over history and eve science and math. In the past, they all complimented one another. Now, they seem almost competitive of one another.

  • claymore

    Whoa getting awfully close to the “firearms not politics” line with this one.

    • 2hotel9

      Yep, the two are inextricably intertwined.

  • Cal S.

    I had this conversation with an individual just the other day. The left is always saying how “We need to have a conversation about guns!” Then, they turn around and start talking about clips, barrel shrouds, and automatic weapons like it’s cool.

    In my case, it was with someone who wanted ‘reasonable measures’ put in place to curb “Ammo violence”. I don’t think even they knew what they meant, but they sure pretended that they did (The best part was where they tried to correct someone about whether they’d be looking down the ‘end’ of a barrel or the ‘front’ of it. Classic). Really, all they do is juxtapose firearms-related terms together, then slap a generic term to the front or back of it–such as ‘violence’ or ‘assault’–imbued with an anthropomorphic murderous intent; and then look at you like you’re an idiot for not understanding that we need to curb the drastic epidemic effects of “Assault-grade Automatic Receiver Stocks”. The other day, the New York Post (iirc) wrote a lovely article on the subject, which basically said what we’ve said all along: if you really want to talk about guns, you really need to be somewhat conversant on the subject before you can. Who knows, you might learn something.

    • 2hotel9

      Many people, left and right and center, simply use “word salad”. They don’t even care if what they are saying is factually or technically correct for the subject, they just throw a lot of words out there with a few slogans or catch phrases mixed into it. That is one reason I don’t watch news, I read it. Can’t listen to that anymore, TV news just makes my head hurt. Don’t get me started on the poor quality of writing today, I can at least slog my way through that. Though, it is like interpreting a foreign language at times.

      • Doc Rader

        Word salad is a good term for it.

        • Hensley Beuron Garlington

          I think word diarrhea is also a good term for it.

          • Nattleby .

            As my Dad would say “A Profuse Verbal Diarrhea of Self Justification”

        • 2hotel9

          I shamelessly stole that from Jim Quinn back in the ’90s. Politicians love this tactic, it allows them to blahblahblah and not say anything that can be hung around their neck during election cycles. It takes so much time and effort to figure out what they are actually saying that the majority of people simply give up and stop listening, or caring, or voting.

          • Martin Buck

            I spent yesterday looking at the back catalogue of Dilbert cartoons. The useless Wally, who has never worked a day in his life (maybe the odd hour or two), and never intends to, is a past master of the word salad. Because his pointy haired boss is fundamentally stupid and purposefully ignorant of any technical terms, Wally blindsides him with a blather of word salad every time his productivity is called into question. The bundle of interchangeable technical buzz words is Wally’s weapon of choice in his continual battle against the concept of work.

            It occurs to me that this is also the chosen tactic for politicians and journalists, who seem to be utterly ignorant and uninterested in any subject they are covering at any time. If any of these individuals could be tested publicly to see whether they know what they are talking about, their stupidity would be made apparent. But they engineer their public appearances so that they are never exposed for the frauds and dunderheads they are.

  • NA3006

    “Assault-grade Automatic Receiver Stocks”……Yea, I’ve heard of those, you can get them without a NICS check on the internet or anywhere in Nevada.

    • Renegade

      Using that stock, can I fire .30 caliber clips in half a second?

      • NA3006

        Only if your rifle is properly lubricated with liberal tears.

  • wetcorps

    I think it is important to try thinking like they think, to understand their mindset so you can reach them somehow and make hem understand you. Just spouting “facts” won’t do much, even if you can provide the best of sources.

  • Quahog

    Living in Rhode Island I find that the vast majority of people hold anti-gun views. Many are not strong in these beliefs, it is a sort of default setting. Perhaps the result of living in among the bluest of blue states with a comparatively small shooting culture. As such, very few people have taken the time to acquaint themselves with the function of firearms.

    The very best way I’ve thus far found to dispel myths and promote knowledge on the topic is to take people shooting. I have taken people who were self described as adamantly anti-gun who walked away with a different and more informed opinion. While not a 180 degree turn, they began to understand more of the proper terminology and terminology. Several people I’ve taken to the range who were a the time more neutral in their beliefs have since purchased firearms. Barring that, there is always something to be said for an open dialogue. Be patient with people, educate where you can, challenge incorrect assumptions and ignorance politely. Not every has spent years building this base of knowledge.

  • noob

    On reflection it could be something to do with the specialization of roles in society.

    I’ve met a few examples of intelligent people who want to know everything there is about a particular topic and nothing about anything else.

    So say you have somebody who wants to know everything there is to know about hot yoga and the associated principles of Ayurvedic nutrition, to the point that they decide to not know how their car works, or how their computer works or how to defend themselves with a gun.

    Indeed some parts of their chosen specialization may create a mindset where certain things like cars or computers or guns may be troubling in the broad philosophical sense so they will shy away from it like a fundamentalist creationist Christian may choose not to learn about molecular biology.

    At this point they may realize that the knowledge that they have forgone may put them at a disadvantage if somebody with that knowledge means them harm. Such people who want to hurt them may not actually exist, but the possibility that these bad actors exist scares the specialist. The specialist cannot change their nature and become interested in things outside their field, so they call upon other specialists from their government to restrict certain kinds of knowledge that this specialist feels would be dangerous to them.

    In this way the specialist makes all around them as harmless as they are themselves, while those who do the disarming and restricting become more powerful since they command the restricted knowledge and tools which hold power over their fellow man.

    I propose that the specialist must see that the knowledge they wish to avoid is a natural part of their specialization. Much like yoga teachers must now know how to manage social media relationships in order to grow their business, they need to experience the benefit of the knowledge and also see that they cannot outsource this responsibility to a third party. This is a difficult path to tread because specialization is all about outsourcing functions you can avoid doing yourself. The trick is to make them realize that by definition liberty cannot be outsourced.

  • USMC03Vet

    It’s not just guns. I’m big into computers and regardless of how many people use them they rarely ever understand even the basics of what is inside that thing. As for something as political as firearms where emotion often trumps facts good luck.

    • Paul White

      every time someone refers to their tower as the CPU I cringe a little inside.

      • Simcha M.

        Um, I usually refer to my computer’s tower as “German potato salad”, is that wrong???

      • Goody

        “The box part”

        • rooftopvoter

          With the neat little sliding drink holder.

  • Michael Bane

    The issue is that the political left and their fellow travelers in the MSM have a vested interest in that ignorance. Gun control is founded in lies, mistruths and large scale ignorance in the various interest groups that make up the left. I say that as the person who created and managed the NSSF Media Education Program, where I and my cadre of 25 of the top firearms instructors in the country took members of the MSM, most of them virulently antigun, to the range and taught them to shoot. The Media program is considered the most successful outreach program the industry every launched.

    I say this also as, pre-television, I was a veteran journalist who began his career in daily newspapers. In my early career as a “beat” reporter, that is, a reporter in charge of a specific topic or area, it was mandatory that I learned my “beat.” I was expected to be an expert in those things I wrote about. The irony is that the necessity for expertise was completely suspended for reporters writing about guns. In fact, a working knowledge of firearms or a background in shooting and hunting was a disqualifier for writing about guns and RKBA issues.

    Most journalists are not stupid people. Moreover, the core of their profession is the ability to quickly research, sort and bring understanding to large amounts of often unrelated information. The reason they DO NOT apply those skills to guns and firearms issues represents not ignorance, nor a lack of information, but rather a deep and abiding commitment to the leftist narrative.

    Most journalists get their “factual” information on guns from the various antigun groups, which — because of the jourrnalists’ commitment to the narrative — is recycled as fact. As I said in a front page story in the NEW YORK TIMES several years ago, a reporter going to the Brady organization or the Violence Policy Center for factual information on firearms and firearms issues is tantamount to asking the Ku Klux Klan for factual information on the NAACP.

    Michael B

    • Doc Rader

      Good observation. So is there any reasonable way to get away from bias in sourcing or is that always going to be a core problem?

    • Anonymoose

      This Liberalizing of the media is not unique to firearms, but infects all reporting on social and political issues.

    • Hensley Beuron Garlington

      Very true! Manipulation of people depends heavily on their ignorance.

    • gunsandrockets

      Too bad I can’t upvote you ten times, because you deserve it!

    • Simcha M.

      Good one, Mike!
      I personally do not call it “The New York Times” but rather “Pravda on the Hudson” and the LA Times is “Pravda West”.

  • Brian

    I have experienced a dramatic growth with people I come in contact with to have no idea how things operate or work. There doesn’t seem to be a healthy curiosity of how machines, institutions or the like work. Yet people make decisions regardless of their ignorance.

  • Brian Hert

    There are many reasons people can’t speak intelligently on firearms and laws surrounding them in the US.

    1. Children are not taught (intentionally I’d think due to the general anti slant of educators) anything about firearms.
    2. Lacking knowledge as kids makes them fearful as adults.
    3. With nothing else to go on, they presume it all works like TV/Movies. Where you can get anything from a shady guy on the corner and every surplus store has a hidden rack of military arms. Where silencers turn a gun into a soft chuffing noise and one bullet always takes someone down.
    4. Not being involved with them and relying on what they’ve seen on TV, they have no idea what goes on at a gun show, what a NICS check is, and what’s required for NFA items. So they presume there are gaping holes in the law that need to be plugged.
    5. This makes them ripe for “Any felon can…” arguments and they assume that all criminals and gang members wander the streets with fully auto weapons.

    Its engineered ignorance, plain and simple, and it starts young. Its very difficult to break that conditioning.

    • gusto

      Every year I give a presentation about my annual moose hunt

      a very traditional thing in Sweden, I have even driven past the school I work with with a big bull on my truckbed (:

  • Frank_in_Spokane

    Can we take the mystery out of guns to those that have not been exposed to them?

    Can Hollywood make a movie in which, when guns are used, slides are not gratuitously racked before the shootout, and people hit by bullets

    aren’t pushed through plate-glass windows like they were just kicked by a mule?

    Seriously, I think a Mythbusters-type show dedicated to all things gun could catch on. Have one or two knowledgeable gun-types invite a neophyte on to address one or two of his questions.

    They could do one whole season where the neophytes are Hollywood directors and special effects men.

    • Cymond

      The problem is that only people interested in guns would watch. Those who need it never would.

      • Frank_in_Spokane

        Not necessarily. Not every person who’s not one of “us” is a dyed-in-the-wool disarmist. Lots of “gun-curious” folks out there in the middle.

  • Grijnwaald

    I live in the UK and own two rifles and whenever I’m asked about the things I enjoy or about my hobbies/interests, I’m always confronted with “Be careful mind” and “ooh that’s dangerous, guns kill people” as soon as I mention firearms. It’s so frustrating as they seem to answer me with the disposition that guns = evil without consulting reason.

    Even when I mention that I’m primarily interested in the mechanical and historical aspects of firearms, they still demonstrate a mistrust.

    • The Forty ‘Twa

      You clearly don’t mix in the right circles! I’d get funny looks if I told somebody I didn’t own a gun…

    • Anonymoose

      Guns don’t kill people. Dangerous minorities do!

    • Edeco

      It can be fun. I get a charge out of being asked “is it registered?” Get to be like “no way, baby; I’m off the grid!” before explaining that its not a thing here. Even had a buddy who’s a popo and out-of-touch with non-LE life ask.

      Also, *sigh* no one ever believes one is just into it as a tech/history fan.

    • nadnerbus

      This is par for the course. I live in California, which might as well be Europe as far as political attitudes go. I mostly keep my hobby to myself, since any time I relate a trip out target shooting or talk about the rifles I own, the inevitable comment is “are you going to come in and shoot up the place?”

      The narrative on guns in places where gun ownership is not widespread is more or less completely created by the nightly news and Hollywood. To people in places like that, guns are only good for gang warfare, mass shootings, and tragic accidents where kids are killed. That is the only exposure they have to guns.

      It’s no wonder they behave as if every gun is a ticking time bomb, waiting to unleash murder and mayhem.

  • hydepark

    Why was my post censored? I’m answering the question about why the discussion is difficult. I’m not as articulate as some of the previous commenters but I think it makes a good point. Some people are simply incapable of having rational thoughts. I had a professor in college swear up and down all guns had to be registered. At the time I didn’t have any tax stamps and I told him not one of my many firearms were registered. You could almost see the gears in his head start to turn and he was seriously considering picking up the phone and reporting me right then and there.

  • iowaclass

    A major source of confusion is that we have three different sectors of the “gun world” each with their own separate “gun language”: (i) the gun industry, (ii) police/military, and (iii)legal/government.
    Take a semi-auto AR platform in a standard caliber.
    The gun industry calls it a “modern sporting rifle.”
    The police call it a “patrol rifle.”
    The military calls it a “designated marksman rifle.”
    The certain politicians and the law call it an “assault weapon.”
    Until we all start using the same glossary, a lot of confusion will continue.

    • gusto

      semi-auto is easy enough
      most others are named after their function a bolt-action, a lever action, etc etc

    • Anonymoose

      The politicians made up the term “assault weapons” to scare their constituents.

  • HH

    Some (certainly not all) can be educated.
    For example….Last yr while at a dinner party with friends I happened to be seated next to a newly elected state level Libertarian minded politician. He frankly asked me about machine guns bc someone else told him I was a collector. His question was “What do I say when a soccer mom asks me why the public should have access to such weaponry and couldnt they kill a LOT more people than a “regular” gun and thus be outlawed”?

    I invited him to the range with me the following week. Ran him thru a bunch of classic MGs. At the end of the day I told him we’d answer his question (somewhat). I put up 20 clays on the berm at 30 yards and gave him a 30 rnd mag in AR15 on semi. He nailed most of them. I did the same and flipped it to auto. He didn;t hit a single one. Then I asked him is the MG really that more dangerous?. Not a perfect example…but trust me it made an impression upon him. No debate, no emotions. Just him experiencing the item in question first hand.

  • Goody

    I work in a major warehouse.

    I suspect that many of my colleagues use amphetamines.

    I will not be talking about my guns today.

  • Hensley Beuron Garlington

    I believe it stems from the sheer loathing and fear of firearms from the majority of the public that has, over time, eradicated or nearly eradicated all firearms education and training from our educational institutions and such.

    As good as some of the internet is, there is just way too much misinformation out there, especially when coupled with the Hollywood and videogame presentations of firearms in general. Couple that with the lack of intelligent interest from an indifferent populace in our urban centers and the outright damnation of firearms education and training among gun control or anti-gun advocates, and you have the start of the recipe for the growing ignorance of our populace and worldwide.

    Even many of our own pro gun compatriots regular show a serious lack of understanding beyond point and shoot.

    I’m no firearms expert, but I have an interest in learning and sites like The Firearms Blog and the more in-depth videos and webpages online, coupled with the basics of firearms safety and training, go along way towards combating ignorance, but until it is taught in schools again and the at least the news media starts striving for accuracy and understanding, I’m afraid this tide of ignorance will continue, but we must not ever give up, because its not over.

  • oldman

    The way the mass media talks about firearms is to illicit an emotional response not impart information. The term I believe is spin. Most reporters have most likely never handled or fired a gun in their lives and have no clue except for what someone else has told them without researching it for them self. It is either laziness or intentional and willful ignorance or both.

  • Captain Obvious

    The danger to us is that the media, whether intentionally or on purpose has defined the narrative about guns to be negative for the last 40+ years. By allowing them to mislabel, define or describe things improperly or using biased terminology we have allowed them to push their agenda (and we all know what that is). When we try to correct it we risk becoming PC ourselves.

  • MrEllis

    This went exactly how I thought it would. It’s a laundry list of complaints and no discourse.

  • C.

    I wish it weren’t so challenging to talk about guns. Call me crazy, but I’d rather talk about guns than sports.

  • gunsandrockets

    This problem with ignorance about firearms dates back at least to the 1980’s, yet it still persists despite decades of effort to fix the problem.

    So the answer to your question of, why? is very simple: it’s the news-medias fault.

    The news-media has not just poorly informed the public over the decades; even worse, the news-media has actively misinformed the public as a deliberate policy to promote the gun-control agenda. In fact, the news-media is the core interest group of the gun-control movement, and the crusade would have dried up and blown away years ago if it wasn’t for the news-media’s partisan efforts.

  • Nashvone

    I saw this a few days ago. My first problem with it was trying to explain the difference between an entitlement and a natural born right.

  • Uncommon Quebecer

    I live in Quebec, so I know a bit about “anti-gunism”… Up here the resentment against gun owners is probably one of the highest in North America. The normal condescending attitude against guns from the late 60’s basically turned into rage in the late 80’s after the Polytechnique massacre, where 14 female engineering students were killed by a misogynist maniac. The killer definitely messed with the wrong crowd, as our feminist lobbies were already very influential in the media and state bureaucracies. The follow-up was basically a general vendetta against ALL gun owners in Canada. Left and center-left political parties jumped on this opportunity to build political capital. Pointless and punitive laws and regulations ensued, resulting in no change in criminal statistics.

    Human nature remains human nature, wherever you live. And especially when uneducated (or mind conditioned) mobs are concerned… dramatic events lead to witch hunts. And in Canada, especially in Quebec, the perfect witch that answers all questions about violence has the shape of a gun.

  • Mazryonh

    I know that gaffes by gun-ignorant politicians are common laughingstocks among the gun-knowledgeable crowd, but aren’t there at least a few US senators or other politicians who served in combat as infantry and who know their way around firearms? Maybe they could help educate their colleagues about how guns actually work and which parts do what?

    I was thinking maybe some of these gun-knowledgeable politicians could explain things to their less-knowledgeable colleagues about how a feature like a bayonet lug or a barrel shroud work. Neither of those things increase lethality at range, so the rationale for including those and similar features under laws like the Assault Weapons legislation is lost on me.

  • Nzo

    There is a big problem with law makers. People meant to represent the people often don’t know what they are talking about. I recognize that if you are a politician whi made economic and sociology studies you may not know about firearm mecanisms. But if you intend to make a law about a subject, you’d better learn what you’re going to talk about. If you oblige people to fasten the seat belt, it’s because you know and you’ve searched how it is supposed to work, and why you make it mandatory instead of highly recommanded. Same goes with any subject. You don’t forbid people to own a car if it can run faster than 200 km/h (or mph) and this is hugging dangerous to go this fast, because a car engine must have this ability if you don’t want it to accelerate miserably and would be totally impratical. You don’t forbid people to own a firearm with a barrel shrould, because most of gun have it and it would be impractical not to have it.
    I live in France and I think fireamrs are well regulated. They are classed in 4 categories : cat. A is war materail (any automatic firearms delivering more than one shot with one trigger pull, explosives, artillery, combat-purposes vehicules…), cat B. is any handgun, any 5.56NATO, .50BMG, 7.62×39mm, 5.45×39, 14.5×114mm weapon, any semi-auto rifle with capacity>2+1 and manual repeating rifle with capacity>10+1, cat. C is semi-auto and manual repeating rifles with capacity lower than cat B. and cat. D with smoothbore single-shots, cold weapons, models prior to 1899, small tear gases, blank guns, electric-shock weapons, air rifles…
    Cat A. is a total no-no to civilians, car B. must be owned after allowence from a préfecture (department admin), cat C. must be declared to this préfecture, smoothbore single-shot must be registered and cat D. can be owned by anyone. To own a cat B or C or smoothbore single-shot you must be a licenced sport shooter or hunter. You have a background check, psychological check. So psychos and criminal cannot own a gun at all. You have to renew your licence every year, and your allowances or declaration every 5 years.
    I think it is a god system because here firearms arr classed by dangerousity, and this dangerosity is mainly defined by rate of fire and capacity. A weapon isn’t more dangerous becaused it has been issued by an army or not, nor it is because it has tactical rails or a scary muzzle brake. Plus, rifles with arm braces don’t become peestals and handguns with stocks don’t become raifelz.

  • Rik

    In the Netherlands (where I come from), we have such strict gun laws that owning a firearm as a civilian is only possible for hunters or sport- shooters (like myself) and never for self- defensive purposes which causes firearms to be excluded from the daily lives of most people. Therefore, most people are completely unfamilliar with guns which makes discussions very difficult as well because “all gun owners are murderous rednecks”.