THOUGHTS ON THE POPULAR STIGMA SURROUNDING GUN OWNERS – And What We’re Doing Wrong

There is a lot of bad stigma out there about gun enthusiasts. Everybody seems to assume that we are egotistical rednecks with an eagerness to shoot someone. The sad part is, this stigma came from somewhere (yes, a segment of the shooting community) , and many gun enthusiasts are not helping to correct it.

It’s really no wonder that he anti-gun people think we do not value human life. When so many people wear gun themed tee shirts with distasteful slogans, it in no way helps our cause to deflect this stigma, it instead deteriorates it.

Can we honestly say that the slogan “I don’t call 911” or “Kill ‘em all, let God sort ‘em out” puts off the image of responsible, law-abiding citizen? No, it puts a bad taste in the mouth of not only the anti-gunners, but also the people who try to portray gun owners as educated, well-mannered people. These slogans are not only blatantly violent; they are also antagonistic and offensive.

Not only can this type of merchandise affect our reputation; it can affect us in the courtroom. If you carry a gun, you probably understand that it is a real possibility that you will find yourself in a court room one day defending your actions to either a judge or a jury.  For many people who have displayed slogans such as the ones mentioned above, it will be that much harder to convince the appropriate authorities that they weren’t eager to pull that trigger to begin with; or that they were, indeed, concerned with where those rounds went.

Lack of education, miss education, and carelessness are also repeat offenders against our reputation.

The Firearm Blog did a great article: “God, Guns & Guts”: Dishonest Portrayal of Gun Owners  about the book “God, Guns & Guts” by Ben Phillipi. This was a book published about American gun owners.  Steve from The Firearm Blog pointed out that the “gun owners are portrayed as being scary, crazy and hostile” in this book.  I would have to agree with Steve, it surely looks like that is the message the author was sending.

What I find terrifying, is that there are actually pictures in this book (also shared in Steve’s article on TFB) of gun owners behaving in unsafe and careless manners (pointing guns at friends, fingers on triggers, etc.). But before we blame the author/photographer for all the bad press, let’s really consider this for a moment and be honest here. These gun owners had to actually already be behaving as such (or agree to for the camera);  and on top of that, let the photographer take pictures of it.

The NRA has been working for years not only to protect and secure our second amendment rights, but to clean up the public eye’s  image of firearms owners. What many people may not realize is that even though they may be a card-carrying member of the NRA, the message they’re sending through slogans on tee shirts, signs, bumper stickers, etc. as well as their behavior, may be in direct conflict with what they are paying the NRA to try to accomplish.

As a gun owner, concealed carry license holder, or even just a recreational shooter –  you are a representative of the entire firearms community. It is important to be constantly aware of the message that you are putting out there for the public to see.