Gun Control 101

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Whenever anyone, regardless of their political views, asks me about guns, I talk to them openly and empathetically, and then I offer to take them shooting – and emphasize that we’ll do it safely. Out of those I’ve offered range trips to, most of the ones who were repulsed by guns accepted, and their outlook almost invariably changed afterward.

I’ve never been a professional firearms instructor, but I’ve taught a lot of people how to shoot, and I think I’ve learned something from it. As gun people, we might look at a certain kind of person, like the fellow below who is frightened even by handling a virtual gun, as weak or as possessing poor strength of character. “He should just turn in his man card and buy a dress”, would be the reaction of many gun people I know after watching this video:

However, I think something else is going on, and I feel I have a duty in these situations to try to work with people like this, instead of dismissing them. I don’t think this guy is necessarily a weakling, I think he has lived his whole life desperately in want of having guns demystified for him.

He’s a guy who fears guns because he doesn’t understand where the bullets go, and whether that thing is called a “clip” or a “magazine”. He doesn’t know that the moving parts reciprocate in the action of the gun and strip rounds from the magazine, so it scares the crap out of him that a gun can still fire even if the magazine has been removed. What sort of voodoo witchcraft is that!? A natural thought if you don’t know what’s going on, I think.

He has never heard of the four rules, and he’s never had firearms presented to him in a safe, controlled manner. So to him, they can’t be made safe, and they can’t be controlled. He has no reason to think otherwise, because his exposure to guns has been in the news, in video games, and in movies.

As he’s gotten older – I assume he’s in his twenties or thirties now – he’s had no other release for this fear but to politicize it, and to smugly assure himself that’s he’s right to do so. It’s an uncomfortable confidence, though. He knows guns are bad, he’s practically tattooed it on his forehead, but he’s not any wiser about the firearms themselves.

When I’ve taken someone new to the range, especially someone who’s not comfortable with firearms, I’ve always structured the trip around these facts. Instead of handing them whatever gun they want and telling them to “let ‘er rip”, I first demystify the guns as much as possible. I explain the mechanism and operation of the firearm, the four rules, and I make target shooting as transparent and immediate as possible through reactive targets. Most of all, I put them in control, by giving them the tools to control their breathing, shoot accurately, and unload safely, by asking them for the firearm if I need to see it, and by letting them set their own limits.

That’s how I teach Gun Control 101.



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • Audie Bakerson

    Be sure to remind everyone of gun control’s history: the 1938 NFA (which still hasn’t been repealed. Ask all candidates for office if they’ll introduce legislation to repeal it or if they are against the second amendment) was used to enable an executive order to arrest and detain indefinitely without trial tens of thousands of US citizens the democrat president didn’t like the skin of. These people were placed in terrible conditions that caused thousands of deaths.

  • Twilight sparkle

    This isn’t a fun article but it’s a necessary one.

  • Audie Bakerson

    Link to a mirror of that video instead of directly. Ben Kuchera (who
    has a rich history of criminal harassment) makes money off every click (I have a mirror, but links are filtered).

    “I assume he’s in his twenties or thirties now”
    Haha. No. He’s 42 and balding. Encyclopedia Dramatica has a nice article on how pathetic a human being (?) he is.

    As for the article:

    Be sure to remind everyone of gun control’s history: the 1938 NFA (which
    still hasn’t been repealed. Ask all candidates for office if they’ll
    introduce legislation to repeal it or if they are against the second
    amendment) was used to enable an executive order to arrest and detain
    indefinitely without trial tens of thousands of US citizens the democrat
    president didn’t like the skin of. These people were placed in
    terrible conditions that caused thousands of deaths.

    • Audie Bakerson

      Here’s his picture and some of his greatest hits.

      This is the face of gun control.

      • Chase Buchanan

        I don’t get it. What’s wrong with that stuff?

        • Audie Bakerson

          What’s wrong with trying to harass an employer into firing an employee because they disagreed with you on the internet?

          EVERYTHING!

          • Tassiebush

            It’s just a bit obscure. I don’t really understand the context of it all. What was going on? The facts of the matter etc. Just looks like excerpts of conflict but without the background.

          • Aramaki

            There are a bunch of nerds on the internet who get their panties in a bunch whenever Ben Kuchara gets mentioned because of a stupid internet nerd fight called “GamerGate” involving a bunch of libtards getting mad about feminists. That’s what Audie is talking about.

          • Tassiebush

            Thanks for clarifying that. I might read up on it.

          • It would bore you, probably, unless you are into video games.

          • Tassiebush

            Yeah I must admit I haven’t gotten round to it. I got sidetracked.

          • n0truscotsman

            Its *BEST* if you steer away from it, honestly. Its a bunch of drama and you will probably die a little inside after reading it. I know I did.

    • Aramaki

      GamerGate go away

      • Audie Bakerson

        How dare I suggest not giving a gun control advocate money!

        • Aramaki

          Copyright infringement is illegal.

          • Anonymoose

            Only if you use it for your own monetary gain.

          • Aramaki

            1) that’s not how fair use works
            2) this is a website that is trying to turn a profit.

          • Lucas Tonoli

            What the guy above me said and this site (thefirearmblog) would only have to remove the alternative link if they are asked by the author. Alternatively, one could make a video reviewing the original video (adding some commentaries and whatnot) and that would be perfectly legal, even to monetize it.

          • Aramaki

            Wrong. Willful infringement is illegal. Period. Full stop. “Fair use” does not mean you can copy a work in its entirety, ever. It means you can reference the original, and quote portions of it (which the article did do) for commentary, educational, critical purposes, etc…

        • I have no problem with giving a gun control advocate money if he has something worth paying for. In fact, here he’s given me a great example for a very positive article about guns, so if he gets a little trickle of money from that, well, I can’t say that would keep me up at night.

          I highly doubt I will significantly change his financial situation by linking here, in other words, and even if my doing so would, I think it’s a little sinister to want to deny content creators who have contributed something just because you disagree with them.

  • Franklin

    I’ve taken two Chicagoland suburbanite friends to our make shift range on “the farm.” These are the kind of people that ask questions like “what should I wear?” when they come to visit us because we live in the countryside. [The answer is clothes by the way. ;)] They hadn’t voiced any views on the subject of guns before, but, given their up bringing, it is safe to assume that if they didn’t have their own views, they’d likely still support whatever the Democratic Party was for. They both had a blast after getting over the initial trepidation of handling a loaded firearm. Both of them had big grins on their faces after their first shot on target.

  • tyrannyofevilmen

    Good article. Demystifying guns for people is the best antdote to gun control schemes out there. Taking folks shooting in a safe and encouraging environment can work wonders.

    This is because the gun-control agenda is rather simple:
    1. Promote ignorance and misinformation
    Which leads to…
    2. Fearing what you do not understand
    …and pumping that fear as much as possible which leads to…
    3. Hatred of what you fear

    The best way to inoculate people against this agenda is to provide an open environment where information is freely shared so that shooting becomes understood as a skill that can be mastered and also is seen an enjoyable experience.

    • Very well said. It’s always amazing to see the attitude of a first time shooter change even after the first few rounds.

      This is why I’m a big supporter of Dry-Fire, I’ve had numerous close friends that I swore hated guns but in reality were just afraid to take that first leap and go to the range. Some did not want to admit they were ignorant, some were afraid of other shooters being unsafe, some just didn’t want to embarrass themselves and completely miss. Showing a first time shooter something like sight alignment or how to unload the weapon seems trivial to any of us but to a new shooter it’s an enormous hurdle. I’m sure if this guy had a family member who introduced him early on this video would have been dramatically different. I’m not saying he would necessarily love firearms, but he would definitely speak about them in a different manner and understand the basics.

      The NSSF study done several years ago stated that on average a target shooter introduced at least 1 new shooter to the sport each year, all of us can have a direct impact on the sport and perception at large by doing outreach to friends and family.

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    Translation: “Im too scared to overcome my ignorance so nobody should have AR-15’s.”

    • M.M.D.C.

      Or too lazy.

    • cargosquid

      That is the standard statement…..

  • MIke H

    A year ago (almost to the day…), I took my (now) fiancee to the range with my dad, and we taught her how to shoot. She’s from the Philippines, and was never given the opportunity to learn to shoot. The first time she fired my dad’s old .22lr revolver, she nearly had a heart attack when she realized she just shot a gun.

    One of my best friends is a class III dealer in eastern Washington. One of my favorite home videos is one I shot last August, of this tiny little Filipina shooting (better than me, I might add) a full auto Uzi. She’s also excited I’m going to build her an AR15… with pink tiger striped furnature.

    • KestrelBike

      Have her build it herself! (with your guidance, of course)

      • MIke H

        Tempting, but it’s sort of a wedding gift… 🙂

    • Y-man

      Mixflip! That you? Big fan here!

  • Major Tom

    Gun Control means using both hands.

    • CissyScum

      Gun Control to Major Tom…
      Gun Control to Major Tom…

      Check your safety and may St. John Moses Browning’s love be with you

  • Trey

    Saddly we the educated must fight against the 3 largest VR systems ever made, TV and Movies and Video Games.

  • ProLiberty82

    Holy heck, the sound of that guys voice! He has the speech pattern of a 12 year old girl rambling on about what jelly beans she don’t like, and he’s a 42 year old bald man! And why is every opinion he states ended as a question?

    • Ryfyle

      Thankfully he’s is actually but an example of few folks from an aging generation, the next generation is far more daring. And the more they drive firearms as a taboo, the more folks like me want to use them. my local gun-stores have an odd make up of 20 somethings asking questions and older guys giving answers.

  • DanGoodShot

    Bravo Nathaniel. Bravo.

  • Edeco

    0:50 “precision crafted to do damage to other physical objects.” Metaphysical too; custom made to blow away your illusion of social order, baby.

    I sincerely don’t think ill of this guy for having a feels-trip about something that I find nigh mundane and enjoyable. I just hope he understands that it’s a great big beautiful world out there, with things beyond his ken, at the moment.

    • Audie Bakerson

      Oh there’s plenty of reasons to think ill of Ben Kuchera.

  • Ceiling Cat

    Guys like that nu-males video game vloggers push me further to the radical side every day. These low test “males” are disgusting. They justify barring ME from owning weapons because they are too stupid and ignorant to understand a simple (well, guns are simple enough to understand) mechanical device. It is like they send these specific signals to their brain that block any gun related thought.
    Despicable.

  • gunsandrockets

    Bigotry is frequently rooted in ignorance.

  • Etherblaze

    These people hate fictional violence, fictional weapons, attractive fictional women. Ben Kuchera is one of the most ignorant and slimy people on the internet, so it’s unlikely he’ll listen to you, or be more accepting of guns… or anything else.

  • Will

    Based solely on the photograph, at the start of this article, of the young lady shooting the revolver it would be very helpful if a certified firearms instructor taught first time shooters how to hold a firearm for
    best effect and maximum comfort while shooting.

    Excellent article. This issue is long overdue and should be addressed as often as possible.
    Education of first time shooters is absolutely essential!!

    • Hi Will,

      The young lady is my SO, and that photo is of the very first time she ever fired her Ruger Blackhawk in .45 ACP. It looks very dramatic in the photo, the angle the gun is at, but I was with her the whole time and helped her work on her form.

      Of course, now that Blackhawk is her favorite gun, and she can shoot a ragged hole with it at 10 yards, but everyone starts somewhere! That’s why I picked the photo.

  • Paul

    Well done. Thank you. Keep up the good work.

  • I don’t know the guy, but I think everything he said was smart, mature and respectful. He had respect for firearms as complex tools and source of danger, he expressed that he does not really love them in the end, and guess what, not everyone should.

    It’s like saying everyone should fish, because you like fishing, you know how glorious the history of fishing implements is, and most of all, believe that every adult man should know how to fish – in case of an apocalypse, or a kidnapping/escape scenario.

    • georgesteele

      Based on what I wrote above, Ayur, not everyone should shoot; but everyone should know enough to keep out of trouble, and to defend themselves.

  • georgesteele

    The way this video starts is very telling. When he was a kid, some family member kept a gun up over the stove next to his pot (Why? To shoot raiding cops?). He didn’t know if it was loaded or not, or how hard the trigger was to pull. If there ever was an argument for mandatory arms safety training, that has to be it.

    OK, so he’s scared. Many people are scared of the unknown. Usually, the fear is de-escalated by knowledge. He was scared when the virtual gun went off when he pulled the trigger, even though the magazine was out. A little knowledge goes a long way; a lot of knowledge, longer. Gerald Ford was not assassinated because Lynette Fromme didn’t know how to put a round in the chamber of her 1911.

    I’m not afraid to handle a gun, because I was taught how. I’m not afraid to drive a car, either – because I know how. But before I knew how, at least I had been taught that cars were dangerous to fool around with. More importantly, although I wouldn’t try to fly a plane, I know that if I am taught how, I would be able to do so safely.

    So I am not afraid of the unknown, because I have been taught the general case: that you don’t fool with things you know nothing about, but that all things can be mastered through instruction and practice. Apparently, his family was bereft of any sense of obligation to teach their child about the dangerous things in life.

  • CountryBoy

    Thank you.

    Something like this was needed, in part to offset the guys who can’t seem to come down to a reasonable level to communicate with a newbie. They’re forgetting that every one of us started sometime, somewhere, and likely are here because someone (perhaps a father or uncle) took the time to explain things – safely.

    Raising our sons we decided to demystify things early on so they were never fearful of a gun – guns are just inanimate objects, after all, and so are hammers, knives and countless other items that can be misused. I’ve since enjoyed watching each of them teach their wife to shoot as well, which certainly gives a person confidence.

    Now if we could only reach those for whom giving a well-built woman a shotgun with magnum rounds in it is a boyhood dream, we’d have a much better rapport with the public, and they’d see firearm enthusiasts aren’t a bunch of ignorant nutcases.

    Well done.