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             By Brandon Council

                As gun owners, we’re constantly having to defend our rights against infringement. Whether it is politicians, media, anti-gun organizations, or individuals who don’t think the Second Amendment should exist, we’re under nonstop scrutiny. Think about it for a minute; what other class of citizens in the United States today is it acceptable to publicly hold prejudice against? None. If we held a protest at a Planned Parenthood Clinic where abortions are performed, the left would chastise us with claims that we are against women’s rights. Look at the case where the bakery refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. It was national news, but the restaurant in Maine that refused service to gun owners was ignored. This is the reality that we live in, and we need to keep on fighting for our freedom. Unfortunately, sometimes we do more harm than good. Aside from mass shooting events enticing people fight against our rights, we as gun owners are our biggest challenge. Listen to my reasons and really think about what I’m writing, because some of us are causing more harm than good.

This isn’t one of those times when “any press is good press”. I’m talking about the gun owner who ends up in the news for something not so good. Take for instance the man in Marion, Indiana who shot himself. He was carrying a handgun without a permit, wasn’t using a holster, and shot himself in his genitals while trying to adjust his gun when it was falling out of his waistband. This story made local news and spread quickly to stations across the country. It directly plays into the gun grabbers narrative and leads people who aren’t sure where they stand on guns to side against us. Think about it. He was a legal gun owner who was illegally carrying a handgun, giving the impression that gun owners think that the laws don’t apply to them. I’m sure he didn’t plan on shooting himself, but he had a negligent discharge resulting in a serious injury. That alone plays into the anti-gun statistic that says you’re more likely to be shot if you have a gun in your home. This is just one event like this. It happened in the parking lot at a gun show in Davenport just last year. It isn’t an isolated event, and it doesn’t look good on us. As if it weren’t bad enough for us, we spread it by sharing the news articles on social media. I see it all over Facebook and Twitter. Ultimately it gives more and more validity to the claim that the ordinary citizen isn’t responsible enough to own a firearm privately.

Another thing hurting us is YouTube. YouTube is a great place to share all sorts of videos. Some firearms related videos are great if you’re looking for information or honest reviews, while others shine badly on us. We’ve all seen the videos of people being reckless with firearms. They can provide some humor, but is any of it actually funny? These videos show nothing but recklessness with firearms, which doesn’t give us a good reputation. Again, it feeds into the gun grabbers narrative. Why would anyone who cares about the Second Amendment publicly post a video of themselves doing something stupid and dangerous with a firearm for everyone to see? I’ve been in a gun control debate with a friend who hates guns when she pulled one of these videos up to help prove her argument. Any of these videos could be used as evidence in congressional debates on gun control. The worst of these videos is when a gun owner records giving someone who has never shot before a high recoiling firearm and the new shooter inevitably loses control of it or gets hurt. Not only does that make you look bad, but that new shooter may not want to shoot anymore, and you may scare other potential new shooters away. We definitely shouldn’t be adding fuel to this fire by uploading these kinds of videos. It should also be noted that when YouTube changed their terms of use to restrict firearms content, not one of these kinds of videos was removed.

The last thing that some gun owners do that doesn’t help is hard to really put into a category. It’s the arguments some of us use, or how we debate with people who are against gun ownership. You’ve seen and heard them all. “If guns kill people, then spoons made me fat”. “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. “Banning cars would prevent DUIs”. I find using these arguments in a debate problematic. I see them as something you say when you don’t have an insightful comment to make. Individuals you are debating with are tired of hearing them also. While most of these comments are accurate, try to get your point across without using the same analogies. In addition to using antiquated arguments that don’t provide any valid reasoning, some gun owners imply the use of violence in their arguments. One of the gun control crowds’ main arguments against lawful firearm ownership is the potential for the gun owner to turn violent. How can you argue against this when saying something that would imply violence? “Come and take it”, and “from my cold dead hands” fall into this category. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t be used as slogan or within the Second Amendment community, but they shouldn’t be you’re go-to statement in an argument. Having an intelligent conversation with someone whose view apposes yours will get you a lot more respect and consideration than responding with short overused arguments.

Believe me when I say that the gun control advocates in our country will use anything they can get their hands on to help push their agenda. Although not intending to help them, some of the actions we take are doing just that. We, as a community of like-minded individuals, need to get on the same page. If law abiding gun owners could provide no reason for people to want restrictions on firearms, their only legitimate argument would be based on illegal possession and use. It comes down to practicing gun safety and not making yourself seem reckless or unintelligent. Don’t share media that makes us look like idiots. Unfortunately, gun owners don’t get much good credit in the news, so the face of gun ownership in the United States is what the news does show. We’re all the guy who shot himself in Indiana, the reckless drunk guy in that video you shared last week, or the lady who uses the same antiquated arguments over and over.