As a responsible law abiding gun owner there are other things that you need to be responsible for. The recent debate over the direction of gun control is a big one you should think about.
Recently there have been several people in the news talking about your right to bear arms, what firearms and magazines you should/can have. Most of these people are not articulate and have come across very poorly or even worse as crazy extremist, i.e. (Alex Jones). These people clearly don’t represent most of us knowledgeable gun owners and make us all look bad with their inability to control themselves.
The mainstream media is not going to ask well respected, extremely articulate, educated/thinking firearms instructors/trainers with decades of real world experience, onto their shows, i.e. (Larry Vickers, Rob Pincus, Massad Ayoob, and many others). The media would be at an extreme disadvantage when confronted with well prepared knowledgeable firearms experts. The gun control advocates are looking for the person who is going to blow up, to make all gun owners look crazy.
When getting in a discussion about the 2nd Amendment or gun control, do not let your emotions rule the discussion. Learn and educate yourself on all of the facts to advise your friends, coworkers and others, who would like to discuss this issue with you.
You must be able to articulate the information as an educated/experienced firearms owner. Example: (1) Bring crime stats into the discussion. (2) Discuss what affect previous bans had. (3) Bring personal experience/situations up. (4) Take them out shooting or training. (5) Point them in the direction of books, articles, websites. Be proactive!
The worst thing you can do is come off as angry, upset, irrational and uneducated on the issue. Bringing great facts to the discussion means nothing if you freakout, yell irrationally and look insane. This will have a negative effect on those who are on the fence and are looking to you as a responsible gun owner to direct them. Keep in mind some people just won’t be turned from their stance, no matter what you say. These people are known as the Sheep of the world, you are the Sheepdog.
The information is out there and it is in our favor. Don’t mess up all of the good information and statistics that are out there, by making yourself and other gun owners look completely incompetent. Keep your composure in the discussions and educate others who do not have the correct information. The general public is more educated on firearms and defense in the post 9/11 era than ever before. Your responsibility as a firearms owner/enthusiast/advocate is also to educate others in understanding the importance of this right.
To add to Duncan’s comments , I want to suggest a few other points that are often overlooked. A lot of gun owners may not like what I am about to say, but we are fighting a PR battle as much as a political battle. One thing I always noticed back in the early 90s when the 1st violation of our rights was made law, (the 94 AWB) was the way that gun owners dressed when they came out to “demonstrate.” Vietnam era jungle boots, camo pants that may or may not have been tucked into said combat boots, Combat jackets, motor cycle leather jackets with bandannas etc. It all reeked of the crazy shell shocked Vietnam Vet ready to go crazy or form a militia–images that played right into the media’s hands. The idea of militias ( the crazy kind selling meth so as to pay for more racist projects) and other groups wanting to start a race war or overthrow the gov to bring back hitler was often used to make us look bad. Another thing the media loved to focus on was the morons wearing the idiotic shirts they got on TV–stuff like “kill’em all and let god sort them out” and “Nuke Japan!” I am sure you have all seen this type of shirt.
And of course they loved the long haired, bearded ponytail slobs. Now, I am sure these are great people. But combined with the “paramilitary clothes”…well I am sure you can figure out the kind of image it portrayed. Right or wrong, people do judge you buy the way you look and dress.
In our current time, how you dress is not as much an issue in day to day life. Having a tattoo or longish hair is not thought of as a sign of being an escaped convict BUT.
If you are going to find your self out front representing us all. You need to be aware of this. I am not saying you can not look and dress how ever you want. But it does make a difference to a lot of people looking at you on TV or in some interview. No one goes to a job interview dressed as a biker gang or like they are a contractor in Iraq. There is a reason for that.
If you find your self approached to speak out to a local or national media event, Clean up. A lot of us will eventually be demonstrating in some capitals from the way it looks on internet chatter. Do not go to these events looking like you are a gun-hating reporter’s stereotypical gun owning wet dream. Put on your church clothes–business casual. Maybe wear a tie if you got one. No combat boots and no shirts declaring 9-11 was an inside job or Obama is an illegal alien. Now is not the time for that, if it ever is.
How you look when speaking is just as important as the facts you are telling to people. To some idiots, even more so. Hell, Obama got elected twice by just looking cool (not my opinion) and sounding slick. Use the same things to your advantage. Look and sound like a pro. People will take you a lot more serious.