The younger generation is here, and it’s about time we started treating them like fellow shooters.

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Photo courtesy of Personal Defense Network

Believe it or not, this guy is one of the most die-hard Second Amendment fans you are likely to find. He even owns a company that makes AR-15 rifles and parts, and is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. Yet there are a whole lot of people who probably wouldn’t give him the time of day at a shooting range. That’s ignorant, and I’ll tell you why.

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Remember when you were young? You probably did some things that you felt were important to you or showed your true personality but which annoyed your parents and their generation, right? Well, people are still doing that, only now we’re using that as a reason to exclude them.

An article entitled “Unlikely Allies?” appeared on the American Handgunner Magazine site last week, and I encourage you to read it before continuing here. The article details an encounter at a shooting range with what some would refer to as “punk kids”, and how the interaction turned out.

I think everyone in the shooting fraternity should read it, in fact, because it illustrates one of our three biggest failures in terms of community-building.

I’ve written before about the lack of welcome given to the Millennial Generation (and the later members of Gen X) by the shooting community. Their tattoos and piercings put off some, while their voting patterns and interest in social justice causes make others mad. As I’ve said, they look and think differently from the generations which came before — and that makes many people very nervous.

But there is a point of common interest: they like guns (they particularly like suppressors!) and they believe that people have a right to own them. We share that enthusiasm with them, and that’s what’s important.

Yes, they’re different. They like guns but worry about income inequalities; they enjoy shooting but also a clean environment; they want to buy ammo but dislike the multinational corporations which make it possible for them to do so. In short, they’re full of dichotomies and inconsistencies — just like the rest of us!

(Every time I write something about this, I’ll get the inevitable email or blog comment or Facebook retort that says something very close to “they vote for Democrats, which are the enemies of all freedom; therefore, these people are my enemies and I will not associate with them!” That’s false in its assumptions and false in its conclusion, and is simply a front to exclude someone because they’re not just like the rest of us. It’s water fountains for “colored” people, but this time the people are multi-colored. It’s silliness, and it needs to be stamped out. I’m going to do my part.)

Understand: at just over fifty years of age I’m a “old fart”. I’m not a fan of tattoos or piercings; I’m turned off by them and cringe at the pain endured in their acquisition. I would never get either for myself, but I stop short of judging other people for getting them.

I recognize that my dislike is purely personal, that if I don’t like them I shouldn’t get any, and that others have the right to ink themselves and poke holes in their flesh all they want without my approval. That’s what’s known as freedom, and everyone should have it. I guarantee that this new breed of shooters would agree.

That’s where we find common ground. We start with the idea that free men and women should be able to own firearms if they so desire, and proceed to the idea that they should be free to pursue whatever their interests may be as long as they don’t interfere with the rights of others.

One thing is certain: these new shooters don’t like the NRA and they aren’t members. They don’t know the organization because the organization hasn’t taken the time to know them. What they believe they know about the NRA and its members comes from the mainstream media, because too many members have decided that these new shooters aren’t worth getting to know as human beings.

(Frankly, the organization’s social stances haven’t helped, either. Seriously, look at the major social activities planned for the NRA convention later this month: a country music concert and a prayer breakfast. Do you really think these people are going to be excited about either?)

Don’t expect them to see eye-to-eye with you on political matters, because they may not. Don’t expect them to join the NRA, because they probably won’t (at least, not until the NRA becomes more representative of them.) If that bothers you so much that you won’t treat them like you would other shooters, all you’re doing is insuring that future generations grow up without the Second Amendment advocacy that we enjoy today.

Yes, those “punk kids” are the future of gun ownership in this country. Embrace them now and help to educate them, or by the time their grandchildren come along the right to keep and bear arms may be a historical oddity.

-=[ Grant ]=-

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About the Author:

Grant Cunningham is a renowned author and teacher in the fields of self defense, defensive shooting education and personal safety. He’s written several popular books on handguns and defensive shooting, including "The Book of the Revolver", "Shooter’s Guide To Handguns", "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals", "Defensive Pistol Fundamentals", and "Practice Strategies for Defensive Shooting" (Fall 2015.) Grant has also written articles on shooting, self defense, training and teaching for many magazines and shooting websites, including Concealed Carry Magazine, Gun Digest Magazine, the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors ADSI) and the popular Personal Defense Network training website. He’s produced a DVD in the National Rifle Association’s Personal Firearm Defense series titled "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals" and teaches defensive shooting and personal safety courses all over the United States.
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