Should we be public about our gun ownership or should we keep it to ourselves? As with all topics of this nature I like to stay subjective and look at all angles. One’s choice in handling this matter is really as personal a decision as what firearm to own.
Let’s start with a good long look at the first extreme, complete transparency. This can be through the use of gun-related stickers, attire, or open discussions about shooting. This stance says a lot more than just that you are a proud gun owner; it also states that there are valuable guns in your home. Not something you want to get around if you leave your home unattended. Putting that NRA sticker on your front door doesn’t really say “Try to rob me and I’ll shoot you”, it kinda says “come back when I’m not home, it’ll be worth it”.
Stickers on the car are fun, they show you support the second amendment and usually make for great conversation at the range. However, on the road, there are two types of people that you don’t want knowing that you have firearms, criminals and police.
The problem with the criminal element is pretty obvious; you are a prime suspect for a carjacking. If you carry you have also lost the element of surprise so the jacking will probably happen at gunpoint as they are worried about you having a pistol on you (as you should). Little extreme? How about just a plain old window breaking or keying because some irate soccer mom doesn’t share your views? That is unfortunately common.
As for the police, most of them won’t bother you over a sticker BUT if you happen to run into one guy having a bad day or a random stop they will most likely inquire if you have a gun with you (ask me how I know). Being the law-abiding citizens that most gun owners are we wouldn’t see a need to lie. Here’s where things get tricky, in many cases the cops are going to want to see them. As long as everything is to the letter of the law you will be on your way…. eventually. Let’s hope that you didn’t make a boo-boo and leave one in the chamber, in many instances that is a crime and you can wind up in handcuffs over simple carelessness.
Now let’s look at the other side, complete silence. We’re the gun owners who keep our guns in guitar cases and walk into gun stores looking over our shoulder to make sure nobody sees. On Monday when someone asks how our weekend was we say “fine, didn’t do anything really”. We keep our guns secret from the rest of the family; sometimes keeping our firearms in storage units or at a friend’s house. We refuse to join any firearms associations because we want to stay “off the radar” and we don’t attend protests, conventions, or rallies because of fear of being seen.
Let’s look at the cons of silence one by one:
Living a life of non-disclosure means living a life of secrets and lies. There’s no need to sacrifice your integrity because you own a firearm, it’s your right as an American! Keeping up the charade only makes us look like we’re admitting that we are doing something wrong. My personal belief is that in a household with guns everyone should not only know where they are but also how to use them. If there are small children in the house they should be taught at a young age not to touch guns, and please, for the love of God, keep your guns secured! This doesn’t mean “hidden really well”, your kids are smarter than you think; they will find them.
Keeping a gun at a friend’s house isn’t the greatest option either. For starters, its security is completely out of your control. There’s no guarantee anyone is going to take the same care of your firearms as you are. We love our friends but at the end of the day, your guns are YOUR guns. Not having your gun accessible will limit your range time and nearly eliminate dry fire practice. This is critical for emergency preparedness… Well, maybe not for you, the gun will be miles away if and when you need it!
Staying out of state or national firearms associations? Great job, now you’re not represented! $35 a year will at least add to the numbers that politicians check against before they even attempt to start up some ridiculous bill. Getting a voice is as simple as joining your state association or any of the larger national ones. If the mail and phone calls looking for funding are swaying your decision they will quickly remove you on request, and for most associations that can be accomplished with the click of a mouse. Get involved! Go to events and meetings. At the very least you will meet other local gun owners and forge some of the best friendships of your life.
Moving on to one I feel strongly about, speaking out that you are a gun owner. Every office is different but when you feel comfortable around your coworkers I feel there is no reason not to be open about your shooting activities. While some may consider it controversial it is the only way to spread awareness of what firearm ownership is and isn’t. I’ve had conversations with elementary school teachers about what I do. Quite often I get the reply “Oh you didn’t seem the type” and I love that answer because it means I’ve reached someone. Drawing from personal experience, I was having a discussion with a family member over Easter dinner about firearms safely and explained my methods of securing firearms to get the retort “But Frank most gun owners aren’t like you!” to which I replied “Well how many gun owners do you know?” and to no surprise I was it! Dinner ended with the conclusion that MOST gun owners are safe with their guns and if people drew their own conclusion based on the actual gun owners they knew, we’d be held in a much more favorable light. Remember you may be the only gun owner someone meets.
So as always, I feel the balance lies somewhere in the middle. This article isn’t intended to point blame or judgment for anyone’s individual views or practices because as stated above, each person has to make their own choices based on their own unique situation. However I think we can all learn a bit from each other’s camp, so it’s worth a few minutes of our time to look at how others handle their gun ownership.
Tell us below which camp you belong to and why – we’d love to hear from you!