Gun Owners and Gun Violence

by Home Defense Gun Staffer Davidgun owners and gun violence

Gun owners and gun violence – the most polite people you will ever meet are at shooting ranges

Something I have noticed is that some of the most polite and respectful people I have ever encountered are at a shooting range. People use please, thank you and excuse me. There are no thoughtless remarks that can be misinterpreted and taken as offense. I was at the local range one afternoon, and had a group of  young men in their early twenties address me as sir, and say goodbye and have a good day when I was leaving. I was actually a bit taken aback by their manners. 

Or have you ever found yourself doing this? On the way to and from the range, or hunting, I am more certain to come to a full stop at stop signs, I use directionals, and stay within five miles of the speed limit. I am a more careful and cautious driver. I don’t want to draw attention to myself.  I  don’t want to get pulled over, have a police officer notice the gun cases and ammo bags in the car, and get uncomfortable. Also, no need for  a minor traffic accident to turn into blaming, arguing, fighting- and the worse escalation involving a firearm.

How do you act if you concealed carry? More or less likely to walk away from a misunderstanding or challenge? If you are responsible, the presence of your own  gun can give you better manners, and make you a little more careful. You become more mindful of how violence can escalate quickly, and you don’t want to take it there if you are armed.

Much of our behavior is dictated by the social context we are in.  In certain places,  certain behaviors are normal and expected, and others are not. Stanley Milgram, a famous social psychologist noted that ” In this setting  [a barber shop]  I will expose my throat to a man with a razor blade”  n.a. (2010). There are written and unwritten rules of conduct, that people expect each other to abide.  You trust the barber to not cut your throat. I am a civilian and have stood next to police officers at shooting ranges. Can you think of any other place where a civilian with a loaded gun can stand next to a police officer with minimal tension or discomfort?  There is trust that people are going to behave appropriately because of the social context.

People seem to instinctively, unconsciously realize that you don’t want to be rude or disrespectful around someone with a loaded gun, even if they are calm, rational, and no apparent threat.  You want to keep them that way. You tread more lightly. You are a little careful. The presence of a firearm is a deterrent to violence, It’s just not worth it. Mis-communication can occur, feelings get hurt, and small misunderstandings can escalate. Imagine if everyone was always that polite and respectful, and employed such good manners.

Always use good manners, and not just at the range. Imagine that the stranger who you encounter is carrying. Would that make you treat them differently? I live in Vermont, which does not have a CCW (Concealed Carried Weapon) requirement. Guns are very accessible, and there has been virtually no infringement on our second amendment rights. Anybody with a clean criminal record, a driver’s license ( for a telephone federal background check which takes less than five minutes) , and several hundred dollars can walk into a gun shop, and walk out with a handgun.

If you are in Vermont, Alaska or Arizona, where there is also no CCW requirement,  (Buckeye Firearms Association, 2005-2013) it is entirely possible  that strangers you encounter are carrying a gun. People in Vermont realize this, and it’s part of the reason why we are a  little more respectful to strangers.

Contrary to what the anti-gunners say, despite the availability of guns, we are also blessed with one of the lowest homicide rates in the nation. This has been consistent  year after year. Most of the homicides we do have – an average of 10.8  per year  (Vermont Criminal Information center, 2011) in a state of about 626,000 people (United States Census Bureau, 2014) – are between people who are married, related, or otherwise acquainted with each other previously, and do not involve a firearm (Vermont Criminal Information center, 2011). Stranger to stranger violence is very  rare. We also have only a minimal and transient gang presence, and no mass shootings. Many people believe  an armed state has contributed to the peace here, and would argue that we are peaceful not despite guns, but because of guns.

The presence of a gun can facilitate better manners and respect- both in the owner and others . When gun owners act like gentlemen and ladies, we weaken the arguments of the anti-gun crowd that stereotype and misunderstand us . As gun owners, if we police ourselves, the lawmakers may feel less inclined to do it for us with restrictive and prohibitive measures.


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