Discoveries of an Anti-Gunner: My Conversion to the Other Side

Discoveries of an Anti-Gunner: My Conversion to the Other Side

In 1651, Thomas Hobbes wrote that free people consent to give up their individual rights in order to establish a political community, i.e., civil society, which establishes laws so that everyone can enjoy security. Although simplistic, this theory supports the following arguments for gun control:

  1. Private citizens should give up the right to own military-style weapons, so that a violent person cannot get one to use on innocent people. In our First World society, we have police, sheriffs, constables, SWAT teams, reservists, military, Special Forces, and a variety of teams that can respond to an emergency at a moment’s notice. If military weapons are needed, a cadre of weapons can arrive with expertly trained professionals.
  2. Citizens who want guns should give up the right of privacy so that they can be vetted to keep guns out of the wrong hands. If you don’t have anything to hide, you should submit to a background check. The government can keep a registry so that if a gun is passed to a new owner it can be tracked so that it is not used unlawfully.
  3. Gun owners should give up the right to buy large quantities of ammunition, so that a violent person cannot obtain thousands of rounds of ammo. Similarly, gun owners should use smaller magazines to limit the round count so that if someone uses a gun unlawfully there may be fewer fatalities.
  4. Lastly, it doesn’t support Hobbes’ theory, but this argument often accompanies the previous ones: The NRA should be universally recognized as a heartless political engine that is funded by firearm manufacturers for profit and it mocks the deaths of innocent people.

I spent many years making these arguments in support of gun control. I cried out, “Enough is enough!” when another senseless murder happened because of a gun. I reviled politicians who were in the NRA’s pockets. I didn’t let my kids play with toy guns. I wanted to end America’s obsession with destruction and start a new generation of we’re-all-in-this-together, rational human beings.

Then I bought a gun.

After a 10-year conversation weighing the pros and cons, my husband and I bought a handgun. I was suddenly on the other side of the mountain and what I discovered was very surprising:

  • Surprise #1: Gun owners are some of the most family-friendly, kind-hearted people I’d ever met. They welcome newcomers and are willing and happy to teach anyone who wants to learn. It is common to find veterans, active military, and law enforcement men and women at the range. This isn’t solely because of the enjoyment for shooting itself; rather it is the culture of people who enjoy shooting sports. Many shooters grew up in 4H or scouting programs that emphasize good citizenship and working together for the common good, and they’re raising their children in the same values. From a young age children are taught gun safety, responsibility, and accountability, and family times at the shooting range or deer lease create lasting memories and traditions.
  • Surprise #2: On my very first trip to the range the first thing I had to do was watch a video that reviewed NRA’s safety guidelines. I discovered that lobbying is only one facet of the NRA. A primary role has always been marksmanship education and safety, but you wouldn’t know that if you’ve never been to a shooting range. At a range you’ll see that most firearms instructors have taken NRA classes to become certified and many shooting ranges offer NRA classes to new and advanced shooters. The NRA also has the Eddie Eagle program to teach gun safety to young children, and it hosts a variety of shooting competitions that can lead a youth shooter to college scholarships and Olympic dreams.
  • Surprise #3: It is socially unacceptable in the shooting community to use a firearm irresponsibly. Post a picture on social media of you at the range without ear protection? Prepare for ridicule. Share a picture of your child holding a toy cap-gun with her finger off the trigger? People will comment just as much about her trigger discipline as her cute smile. They hold each other to a higher standard of safety, so when a senseless tragedy happens gun owners are the first to yell, “Enough is enough!” They want to know why it happened, how it could have been prevented, and solutions to complicated problems. They continue to model responsible behavior with firearms and value safety and accountability.
  • Surprise #4: A “military-style” rifle is actually the same as any other rifle. They can look scary because you see them in war movies and video games, but the body style makes them lightweight and easy to hold and customize so that it fits your body correctly. Having a rifle that is the right size for you makes it more comfortable to shoot and therefore more accurate and safer. The rails look tactical, but that allows you to safely attach flashlights or other accessories. Once you learn about them, they are really not scary at all and are fun to shoot! By the way, automatic weapons are already illegal for (most) private citizens to own. You can’t make them extra-illegal.
  • Surprise #5: Although it is a big responsibility to have a firearm that scared me at first, I feel safer with it. I’ve seen cities be hit by natural disasters that become opportunities for crime, and I know that if we lose power or communications I can keep outsiders from looting our home. I watched mothers in a Nairobi mall beg gunmen for their children’s lives, and I feel safer knowing that we can find shelter and have a fighting chance. I’m not anything close to the female-equivalent of Jason Bourne, but I continue to take training classes and practice so that I model responsible behavior and can protect my family if the need arises.

We can see Thomas Hobbes’ social theory at work in our society because we frequently give up rights in order to have order and security. Some examples are speed limits, drinking ages, and showing ID before you can buy Sudafed. However, the first thing you must know about Hobbes’ theory is that it only works if everyone is on board.

Remember when I said that shooters are often veterans and law enforcement? They sacrifice their lives to protect the common good, but also recognize that not everyone is good. Many gun owners believe that using a gun to protect their loved ones is not only a constitutionally protected right but a moral obligation. I championed for gun control for a long time, but I found that once I became self-reliant for my personal security, the arguments no longer made sense. Here are the reasons why:

  1. There is a saying that regardless of species the most dangerous place is between a mother and her young. If my family is threatened and I have the training and tools to protect my children, it is my right and duty to do so. If I have nonlethal options I will use them — and part of good training is knowing if I do. If I can call 911 and wait for help I may do so. The problem with relying on law enforcement is that they respond after you call them. If someone is assaulting you or breaking into your home, you’ll be toast before the cadre of professionals arrive.
  2. More than anybody, the good guys want to keep guns out of the hands of bad guys. Many law-abiding gun owners understand the reasoning for background checks before buying a gun, and many have conceal/open carry licenses that require background checks plus fingerprinting. The problem is that 38 states submit less than 80% of their felony convictions to the database for background checks, so more than 7,000,000 felons aren’t in the system. This is another example of trying to make something extra-illegal: it is illegal for convicted felons to have guns, so we don’t need more laws about it. We need all of the names entered into the background check database, so that when they try to buy a gun they can be arrested for it.
    While the background check database holds names of those who should not have guns, it makes gun owners very nervous when you talk about “registries” of good guys. It sounds like paranoia to anti-gun people, but this is an era of intense religious and racial tensions, with polarizing, far-left and far-right politicians. Gun owners do not want a list that could be used to identify them for the simple fact that guns are expensive and they don’t want anyone knowing what they have, in addition to a “gun round up” or any other dramatic possibilities. They feel safer being anonymous knowing they can personally protect their families in case of a widespread information or communication outage, terrorist attack, or natural disaster.
    Also if the government intends to track every gun that passes hands it can only log the transactions of people who go to the office and file the paperwork. I’ve never seen a movie of a fugitive getting a duffle bag of passports and pistols that he takes to the state office to file. Similarly, I am carded to buy a box of Sudafed, but the bad guy doesn’t show ID when he steals a case of it for his meth lab. Laws like these are meaningless because only good guys adhere to them, and that creates a registry of good guys. That does nothing to keep guns (or large quantities of ammunition) away from criminals and crazy people.
  3. Another example of going after the good guys is limiting magazine capacity. When I was anti-gun, this sounded pretty serious; however, now I know that it takes less than 2 seconds to change a magazine. It doesn’t slow anybody down, and more importantly, it doesn’t solve the problem of bad guys getting guns in the first place. Focus on the stuff that matters.
  4. As for the NRA, when I wasn’t a gun owner I hated “them” passionately. I began to appreciate the training programs, publications, and other services, but dragged my feet on joining. The acceptance of the NRA was my final step into the gun culture. Now I support the NRA because it fights for *me*. I like the security (and enjoyment) that my gun gives me and I want to keep it. If you aren’t a gun owner you just won’t understand that.

If we truly lived in a Hobbes society where everyone was on board and accountable, then there would be no need for gun control. It seems easier to control guns than human behavior, just like it is easier to take all the markers away when your toddler writes on the wall. As a long-term strategy, however, we need to address the root of the problems: the irresponsible parent that didn’t keep it locked in a safe away from a child, or the gang member skirting background checks, or the teenager struggling with mental instability, or the domestic or international terrorist with a plan to get on the evening news. These behavior problems are much harder to address, but allocating resources to our law enforcement, criminal justice, and mental health systems is a good place to start.

We don’t need more laws to monitor what good guys are doing, or gun control laws that make things extra-illegal. We need we’re-all-in-this-together leaders to get to the root of these complex problems and develop rational policies so that all law-abiding Americans can enjoy the security of a civil society.

I used to wish that the government would get rid of all the guns and then everyone would be safe, but I discovered that the utopia in my mind was actually a society with no bad guys. It was never about guns at all.

About Robyn Sandoval

Comments (53)

  1. Welcome to the community.
    May I ask you why you decided to buy that first gun in the first place?
    How did that discussion and decision go?
    Was your husband also a fervent anti-gunner?
    Thanks!
    aAm

    1. We talked about a gun after 9/11, but Hurricane Katrina is what changed a lot for me. I began casually storing food and water so that if my city experienced a disaster my family would be ok for a few days until things calmed down. My husband was concerned that he would have no means to protect us or keep looters from taking our food. I began to consider a gun (for him to use) that would be locked away in a safe to be used only in an emergency. He enjoyed shooting, but understood the fears I had of having a gun around our children, so he encouraged me to join AGirlandAGun.org and become educated. I started attending Girl’s Nights Out at the shooting range, and eventually started competing and instructing. The rest is history!

      1. Just wanted to say you were wrong on #4 when you said automatic rifles were illegal already for most most private citizens to own.
        Full automatic rifles may be owned by ANYONE who is eligible to purchase a firearm. There is just a few more forms to fill out, plus a 200 dollar tax stamp, an additional scrutiny by the ATF, and more stringent rules that must be obeyed, which as you can’t sell it privately without notification to the ATF, and you must be able to actually AFFORD to pay much bucks when you can actually find one! It is called a class III License. They are not illegal, just highly regulated. Sasme as a “suppressor”, commonly called a ” silencer”.
        Being a newby, it is hard to learn everything about guns, and the HEAPING pile of rules and regulations, designed to keep us “safe” ,but in reality, are an illegal infringement of our 2nd Amendment Rights. Most hard core Constitutionalists agree that ANY laws are infringement, such as requiring a carry permit in order to conceal a weapon, but that is a whole other story, Chapter two….

        1. Incorrect. A “class 3 license” is only for a dealer to sell nfa items. An nfa form 4 only allows you to buy PRE-1985 TRANSFERABLE machine guns, which cost tens of thousands of dollars, and you have to PROVE why you NEED it to the CLEO. Also, its a MAY ISSUE process, not a SHALL ISSUE process, which means the ATF and the CLEO can deny the request, even if you can buy a regular gun. Is not a *simple* matter of paying a tax stamp and “getting a class 3 license”. So the author is correct, the typical citizen, with a typical income effectively cannot get a machine gun.

          1. darrylhadfield

            Your assertion of “incorrect” is actually more incorrect than not – the original poster was correct.

            1. A “class 3” license is for dealers; it’s a Class 2 for Manufacturers (who are also dealers).

            2. There’s no such thing as an NFA form 4; it’s an ATF form, and there are limited cases where post-86 (not 1985) machine guns have been added to the registry, although those are rare.

            3. While some states are ‘may issue’ – that was recently changed and the ATF no longer requires CLEO sign-off in all cases; there are others whose signature is acceptable to the ATF. Further, some states restrict machine guns entirely – conversely, some states are SHALL issue – and notably, Alaska, doesn’t even require the signoff at all. The ATF can deny the request, but that has nothing to do with the CLEO. I live in Ohio, and MGs are a “shall issue” item here. FYI? CLEO trust signoff was completely eliminated in January 2016, by the ATF.

            4. It *is* a simple matter of paying the extra fees, getting approvals, and purchasing the income. I know plenty of people who make less annual income than I do who own NFA-covered items.

            Then again, what do *I* know… I’m an FFL/SOT. :)

      2. Sorry, but I just finished reading all the comments and saw that someone else said basically the same in reference to full automatics. Sorry for the extra spanking!! No pun intended.

      3. Hi Robert. Yes, when I wrote the article I was referring to the regular ol’ average person without a trust and tax stamp, but I had written “private citizens,” which was indeed factually inaccurate. I edited the article to add “(most)” in response to pod’s comment, below. Many complained that my article was already too long, so I didn’t want to venture off course: the point of my article was to describe the culture of the shooting community from the inside because it cannot be seen from the outside. The images and stories depicted in the media are not representative of my experiences of the general population of gun owners who are responsible and care deeply about the safety of our society. It wasn’t my intention to spell out the specifics of any law regarding automatic weapons; just to say that anti-gun people’s perception of who has them is probably not accurate. Before I had shot either, I had no idea of the difference between semiautomatic and automatic. I only mentioned it in my article to say to the anti-gunner who may be reading that there is a difference — and most people don’t have the “scarier” ones. ;)

        1. Robert/Robyn: your comments on automatics are partially correct and limited to NFA compliance. It is a bit more complicated in that only 175,000 automatic weapons exist, hence the very high price for them. If you happen to luck upon a old family weapon, you have to have the proper paperwork to effect the transfer. If not, you may as well donate it to a museum.

          The limitation on the number of automatic weapons out there is the result of the 1986 FOPA (Firearm Owners Protection Act,) which banned civilian ownership of newly manufactured machine guns. You can read about it on Wikipedia.

  2. This is a great story and one we’re beginning to see more and more these days. Thank you for sharing!
    I signed my girlfriend up for a ladies basic handgun class and she said there were two women there with similar stories. They didn’t feel safe and began to feel like they needed to have more information about guns. They didn’t want to be afraid of guns, and they were in the class to overcome their fears.
    Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks, Gordon! That’s exactly it — learning takes the fear out of unfamiliar things. Glad your girlfriend is a shooter now, too. She should join A Girl & A Gun. ;)

  3. This is a common conversion story, because when gun ban advocates wake up and get rational, they convert and have this same common set of revelations.

    Thank you for sharing it. Hopefully it’ll reach a few, over time, who currently have their heads in the sand.

    When are you getting your first AR15?

    Don’t neglect getting a shotgun for home-defense. They are reasonably priced, widely available and quite effective against multiple assailants. If the 12 gauge recoil is daunting for you, many women choose a 20 gauge — and the business end of that smaller bore is still quite significant.

    If you’re ever in Southeast Michigan, I’ll gladly take you to the range to shoot a dozen different weapons. And the ammo is on me.

  4. By the way, new shooters who are female generally learn faster, find the learning easier and are better shots.

    This is largely because men tend to get their egos involved and are willing to pretend they know more than they do, whereas women will admit what they don’t know, listen better and learn more attentively. Of the many people I’ve trained to shoot, women are nearly universally faster learners and better shots out the gate.

    Final comment: since women tend to have less body mass and upper body strength, they ought to be naturally more inclined toward armed self-defense. One woman cannot generally fend off four large men with her bare hands on a blade or bludgeon. But she can take them all 4 our in 2 seconds once she’s trained and confident. Women arguing for gun control is just so anti-feminism it makes no sense at all.

  5. The essence of posting on the internet about guns is that people like to nitpick. So I’m gonna. This was an amazing article, but one little inaccuracy:

    “By the way, automatic weapons are already illegal for private citizens to own. You can’t make them extra-illegal.”

    Not true. Private non-LEO citizens can own automatic weapons under limited circumstances…

    • Automatic weapons made before May 1986 can be transferred amongst law-abiding civilians. All these guns are (in theory) on the federal National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, which is a database (probably an Excel sheet haha) of all the machine guns, suppressors, short-barreled rifles, short-barreled shotguns, and “destructive devices” that are regulated by the 1934 National Firearms Act – which is basically a special classification of firearms the Feds deem to be “really dangerous”. Keeping it simple…

    • If you wish to buy a machine gun, and you find someone selling one legally, you pay for it, and you file a Form 4 with the ATF, plus pay a $200 transfer tax. The ATF goes over your paperwork, approves it, and a few months later you can pick up your machine gun from the seller. Now, since the pool of legally-transferrable machine guns is fixed, the price has gone way up. An M16 originally bought for $1100 in 1980 costs $25000 or more nowadays.

    So yeah, you can own a machine gun, but be prepared to pay.

    Of course, criminals aren’t exactly ponying up $25K for a 40-year old M16. They’re stealing one from the cops or the military if they want one. And yes, that does happen. A crackhead jacked a few full-auto M4s from a National Guard armory in Worcester, MA last year.

    1. Just a quick nit to pick. Between the words FOR and Private you will find in her story there is, in parentheses, the word MOST.
      As for the possession of full auto weapons, are you talking fed.law? I have been told many, if not most, states forbid full auto weapons. Just curious. Trying to learn all I can.
      Thanks

    2. Pod you made this young lady apologize for nothing. The key word was most. There are papers that need to be signed and the transfer fee. The Chief LEO of your place of residence must sign off for the transfer. I was lucky I lived in the unincorporated county in Florida. The Sheriff’s son was my Captain so he signed. If I lived in the city I would have been SOL no signature no transfer. Now as more Sheriff’s follow Sheriff Joe of Maricopa Counties example especially here in the red parts of Florida more signatures. Now that creates a new problem no new firing mechanisms. I can buy another MP5 easily but if I can’t find a pre-release change mechanism the best I can do since I’m an H&K armorer, is make the firearm non-selective or semi-automatic. Now knowing Florida well many gun ranges that are FFL are also class 3 dealers so you can rent one. But be sure to take out a second mortgage because my MP5 30 round magazine was empty before the first casing hit the ground lmao

      1. I was referring to the regular ol’ average person without a trust and tax stamp, but I had written “private citizens,” which was indeed factually inaccurate. I edited the article to add “(most)” in response to pod’s comment.

  6. Great article welcome the wonderful world of gun owners. I have forwarded this article to several female friends who are like you describe yourself being, fearful of guns and leery of gun owners in general. I am also glad that you mentioned the great work Scouting, and the NRA do to promote safe gun training courses. My son got both his rifle and shotgun merit badges through the Boy Scouts, and is a great ambassador for shooting sports.
    I wish that everyone who has a negative opinion regarding gun owners, and firearms would take the time that you have to learn as much as possible, because so much of the fear they have is due to ignorance and misinformation.
    Irrational fear of anything is usually based on being uninformed.

    Thanks for sharing your story and continue to help educate others who are where you were before your conversion.

  7. This is a great read. Welcome too the other side. I am a boy scout leader in venturing and love what we do. We are a shooting sports crew, we are all NBA certified and what you say is true. We care about safety and teaching. I have shown people of the anti side the joys of shooting and all that goes into it. All my scouts boys and girls are earning the medals or patches from the winchester nra marksman book. Wish you luck in your continued success

  8. You, and others touched on the fun of shooting sports. I have had many people ask what is fun about something that belches smoke, makes lots of noise and the end result is a hole in a piece of paper. I tell them that to me it is like throwing darts or shooting hoops and many other personal endeavors. It is the satisfaction of doing something well. I guess you could call it pride in self proficiency. P.S. I have seen more people hit with stray darts in a bar than stray bullets at the range. LOL

  9. Robyn, thanks for sharing your experience and I wish more stories such as yours were covered by the media. I do enjoy seeing article after article about the growth of women who are taking up shooting.

    I believe most gun control advocates are in the same situation as you were. I bet 99% of them have never owned or even fired a gun.

    Isn’t it interesting that so many are will to take away the rights of others but not willing to give up their rights. For example, I bet not one gun control nazi is willing to stand up and say “All use and display of guns should be banned from any Movie, TV Show or Game”.

    Groups like Mom Demand Action are the first to scream about the right to do with what they want with their body BUT want to take away OUR right to protect our body(life).

    The REAL danger in all of this is these groups do not understand is by advocating taking away someone else’s rights, they are actually working to take away their own rights. Here is a famous poem that I updated for today’s issues.

    First they came for Cigarette Smokers, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Smoker.

    Then they came for the Christians, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Christian.

    Then they came for the Gun owners, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Gun owner.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

    (original Pastor Martin Niemöller – Nazi Germany 1937)

  10. As for the registry, let’s consider: (0) Hackers are stealing data from databases at a phenomenal rate. Stored data by anyone – not even the government – is safe. (1) Australia’s gun registry is an excellent example.

    After the “Sydney Siege” (a.k.a the “Lyndt Cafe Siege”) in December of 014, the Senate commissioned a report. In the report (which is loaded with suggestions intended to “fix” their broken and failing laws), it was noted by The
    Tasmanian Farmers & Graziers Association that thieves may be getting registration information from the database, and targeting homes that have registered weapons, and I quote: “Anecdotally, there is significant evidence to suggest that many of the firearm thefts in Tasmania are targeted – that is, they are targeted for the firearms, because often nothing else is taken. So you have to ask how this intelligence is being gathered by criminals in the first place.” (Reference: section 4.49 on page 56 of the report)

    Also noted in the report is the general disarray of the system; states fail to communicate data, states have differing laws, and updates to the data is spotty and inaccurate – much like our felon data as mentioned in your article.

    There is much more information in the report, which clearly demonstrates most American’s (and a few specific politicians) are unaware of just how Australia’s “gun control” laws actually fail to do one thing: control guns! We don’t hear much about the failures in the United States, and politicians and citizens in Australia continue to peddle the myth that everything in Australia is Utopian. Since a low of 2005, firearms used in crime (homicides, kidnappings and robberies) have been slowly creeping upward.

    Resource: The Senate Report: http://goo.gl/Aq1Wm3

    Resource: Trend in Weapon Use in Homicides, Robbery and Kidnapping: http://goo.gl/Gf0xo7

  11. So in addition to he good aspects of gun ownership..I find target practice very meditative. Sounds strange but when you are shooting, there’s nothing else that can be on your mind from the time you pick up that firearm to the time that you safely put it away. It clears my mind after a rough day at work, you get to see all sorts of different weapons at the range, and always someone new to chat with. Secondary to that, of course, is honing your skills so that if you ever need to use them defensively you will be able to act quickly and decisively and be very familiar with your weapon should the need arise, and we hope the need never arises.

  12. Three things stand out that render all gun control arguments invalid:
    1. RIGHTS (of The People). Rights can be surrendered, but they can’t really be ‘taken away’ without killing somebody. Government only happens by ‘consent of the governed’. Rights are about that fundamental level of our individual human existence that we do NOT consent to be governed by the presumption of others.
    2. Civic DUTY. With every inalienable civil RIGHT there is an associated CIVIC DUTY. Those of us with the will and the means have a DUTY to protect ourselves, others around us who can’t protect themselves and our property, as the aggregate substance of success of our society. A loss for one is a loss for us all. An attack on the freedom of one is an attack on the freedom of all. Almost every violent criminal should also be prosecuted for the violation of civil rights. Where the Right to Keep and Bear Arms is infringed, so is the Right to Life and Liberty.
    3. Moral obligation. To understand this, one must have morals to begin with. In order for morality to have meaning, one must have the freedom to choose, so that Right must be protected, ultimately by the de-facto standing armed Citizen militia as a last resort. One cannot be “compelled” to be a morally-good person by some monolithic government via force of law. We need to understand that behavior which must remain “legal” and yet not be shamed by the “politically-correct” into morally condoning it.

    This is why I say, “A Citizen, by definition, is armed”. Anything less is to be a “subject”.

  13. pregnantheimlich

    Interesting read. I respect your opinion, and I think you are the model of a best case scenario gun owner. However, I feel like the only argument you put forward is ‘it makes me feel safer, just in case’. So having guns available in the country makes you feel safer, while actually making you less safe. While not having guns makes you feel less safe while actually making you safer. I know which one I’d rather have…

    1. Thank you for your comment! I understand what you’re saying because that’s exactly what I used to believe. You’re right — I would feel less safe without my firearm, and if there were fewer gun sales as a result of gun control laws then anti-gun people would say that I would actually be safer. However, my belief is that I would actually be less safe because there would be fewer law-abiding citizens with guns and more criminal gun sales. In other words, I (a trained, responsible gun owner) wouldn’t know where to get illegal guns because I’m a law-abiding citizen, but bad guys will, and they’ll circumvent gun control laws. That would make our society less safe. It’s similar to the argument that criminals don’t obey posted signs to businesses that require them to leave their gun outside — anti-gun people feel safer there, but pro-gun feel like fish in a barrel. The safety of any building actually depends on the integrity of the people in it.

      1. Robyn, I respect your right to your opinion, but you need to educate yourself. First of all, laws like universal background check laws aren’t targeted at law-abiding gun owners. We law-abiding gun owners can pass a background check and so they don’t affect us. But if we had background checks required on every gun sale, with exceptions for family transfers among law-abiding family members as is usually the case, then many of the places that criminals and people who have been prohibited will no longer be available to them. For example, criminals can and do buy guns on Armslist because Armslist helps people arrange private sales. In 32 states there are no background check requirements on private sales. In fact, in most of those states the seller is under no legal obligation to do any due diligence on their buyer whatsoever. Criminals know this now & they take advantage of it. “So what,” you say. “The criminal is breaking the law just buying the gun.” Yes, true. But the seller isn’t. And there are a lot of people out there who would think twice about selling a gun privately without a background check if it was illegal for them to do so. Background checks may not stop all law-breakers from buying guns, but if they were universally the law for all sales in all 50 states they would stop **law-abiding** gun owners from selling to them. And they do, currently, usually without having any idea. Heck, the guy in Seattle who sold a gun to a Canadian citizen in an Armslist sale a few years ago wasn’t a law-breaker. He was a guy who had no legal obligation to find out who he was selling to, and he didn’t. So he sold a gun to an illegal buyer who used that gun to shoot and kill a woman who rejected him. I would think that ALL responsible, law-abiding gun owners would see that narrowing access for criminals by making sure all law-abiding citizens can’t legally sell a gun to a criminal and walk away having done nothing “legally” wrong is the right thing to do. I would certainly think that someone who used to support regulations would see sense in that. Here’s the story of the Seattle “legal” sale to an illegal buyer: http://goo.gl/ki4Awj

        You really need to think hard about what you are promoting. Gun “control” laws as you put it (lots of gun owners are for responsible regulations, not control) don’t stop law-abiding gun owners from being able to buy a gun. But they can make it harder for criminals to get them. Don’t believe me? Please, tell me of a time when you or a law-abiding gun owner you know was prevented from buying a gun entirely. Not for a few days. Entirely. Thanks.

        1. Deamare, I think you need to turn that first sentence around and consider educating yourself before preaching such a narrow and poorly understood viewpoint.
          1) Background checks are already widespread and the “gun-show loophole” is largely a propaganda tool by the anti-gun groups to confuse uneducated people about the actual process of buying a gun.
          2) The vast majority of guns used in criminal activities are either stolen, acquired from friends or family (not sold), or straw purchased. Background checks, regardless of the quality of them, would do next to nothing to stop the use or acquisition of firearms by criminals.
          3) Background checks also touch on the very contentious question of who has a right to own a gun. Perhaps we can agree that anyone on probation or under a restraining order/court order should not be allowed to purchase a firearm. But what about those convicted of a felony previously but have served their time? Have they paid their debt to society? What about non-violent felonies? What about misdemeanors? At what point is someone stripped of a constitutional right? If you listen to the anti-gun folks, including the POTUS, they want to include the mentally ill, certainly social security recipients? Who defines what the line is? What is mentally ill? This is the huge issue with background checks, and for you to preach that it is an obvious thing to understand is childish.
          4) And lastly, as mentioned previously, background checks are only as good as the database that serves them. Until all states provide timely and adequate information, harping on background checks is just security theatre that serves little purpose beyond propaganda.

        2. Deamare, I’m with MikeP on this one I believe you need to educate yourself a bit more on universal backgrounds. Universal background checks would require universal registration. Right now the vast majority of the 300 to 400 million firearms in this country are not registered, anything manufactured before 1968 was not required by law to be serialized or registered with the ATF even. To enforce a universal background law, you would have to know who has the firearm to began with. The main people pushing for universal background checks know this, so when the universal background check law doesn’t get results, the next push will be for universal registration. I can tell you right now! Universal registration wont work. So what do you think they’ll push for after that.

      2. Yes, if it weren’t for briefly mentioning background checks and automatic weapons, I wouldn’t have gotten any replies to my article, lol! The scope of the article (which some have complained is already too long) only addresses my journey and mindset (in general) from one side of the issue to the other. Mostly I wanted to share what surprised me most about the shooting community — and it was the friendliness, family focus on good citizenship, and due diligence for safety. That definitely doesn’t describe all gun owners, who are a diverse population. We need to examine what existing laws should be enforced (if any), what new policies should be developed (if any), and additional outreach efforts and social services that should be enhanced (if any) to address the underlying reasons for our problems in the first place. There are many opinions on specific regulations, such as background checks, which I didn’t really get into.

    2. Pregnantheimlich, you are expressing an opinion based on statistics that are arguably misleading.. I’ve heard repeatedly from anti-gun groups that a household with a gun has a statistically higher incidence of gun violence then one that does not. But to a responsible gun owner this is nothing more than propaganda with no relevance. Those statistics are largely derived from including suicides (2/3 of gun deaths) and accidents. The US overall suicide rate is comparable or lower than most advanced western societies indicating that in the absence of a household firearm, a suicidal person would just find another way. Japan, an essentially gun-free society, has a much higher overall suicide rate sadly, completely eliminating a gun-suicide relationship. Accidents often result from incompetitence and this is an area where we could certainly use better education. But for a “responsible” gun owner this is a non-issue as by definition they will responsibly store and handle their weapons essentially bringing the probability of an accident to near zero.
      Lastly, these statistics almost entirely ignore the preventative benefits of owning firearms for violence prevention as there is no reliable source or database of this. The government does little to track legal defensive gun use so we really have no comparative data for legal versus illegal gun use. It is arguable based on estimation that guns in fact do make a person statistically safer.

  14. Welcome to the right (correct) side of the gun question, Robyn! I’m glad you finally saw the light (truth).

    I wonder if you can comment about all the lies that the anti-gunners have to make up to support their side? Seems to me if you have to make up facts and statistics, you’ve lost the war.

    1. Both sides of the issue comprise smart, educated people that use statistics that support their paradigm. The crux of the issue is that the anti-gun view is that everyone should give up rights (like we do with speed limits and such) for the greater good in order to protect even one life from a firearm-related death. It is a noble and worthy cause. The pro-gun view is that law-abiding citizens have the constitutional right to have firearms, and restrictions take rights away from the good guys only because bad guys will circumvent the law. This creates an uneven playing field and a less safe society. Protecting our families and the rights of good guys is also a noble and worthy cause. Bottom line: We need to create dialogue to hash out these views so that we can enforce policies that don’t hinder rights of good guys, but also create safer society for all Americans. It’s a complex issue.

  15. THANK YOU FOR UNDERSTANDING WHAT RESPONSIBLE GUN OWNERS HAVE BEEN SCREAMIGN FROMT HE ROOFTOPS FOR YEARS. WE CANT REMOVE EVIL FROM THE WORLD NO MATTER WHAT WE TRY AND REMOVE,LIMIT OR CONTROL. HERE IN NJ WE HAVE FOUGHT WITH THE LEGISLATURE FOR YEARS TO NO AVAIL. THEY STILL BELEIVE IN THE MAGAZINE CAPACITY FARCE. WELCOME TO THE COMMUNITY AND ALL I ASK IS,AS A WOMAN PLEASE KEEP UPT HE GOOD WORK SPREADIGN THE WORD.AS MANY ON THE LEFT LIEK TO SAY,IF YOU CAN SAVE JUST OEN CHILD BY CHANGING SOEMONE’S OPINION ON GUN OWNERSHIP! :)

  16. The NRA did not become a lobby until after Congress passed the 1968 Gun Control Act. The NRA began as a safety and marksmanship organization.
    The NRA was all about military style target shooting and organized international competitions. The modern Olympics involves such military based target shooting, although NBC refuses to note that fact when they show the summer or winter games.
    During the Civil War Union Generals saw the poor performance of the Union soldiers, particularly when compared to the Southern soldiers who grew up in the fields and swamps with a rifle and Bowie knife. Many Union soldiers were fresh off the boat from Europe and had never fired any firearm before “boot camp.”
    The EDDIE EAGLE safety program is simple and intended for preschool to first and second grade students. I’ll sum up the content…
    If you see a gun, Don’t touch it, Leave the Area and Tell an adult. It works and has saved lives. If your school system doesn’t use it, attend the next school board meeting. The NRA will be happy to supply materials you can show the school board. https://eddieeagle.nra.org/

    Welcome to being a free citizen and not just a warm bodied voter.

  17. Great writing, and welcome Robyn. As you said, the females of any species will ferociously defend their young, and humans are no exception. It stands to reason that you should do so with the best means available. What is wonderful is that on your journey to becoming proficient with your means of protecting those you love, you have come across great people and a great organization…. they’re not the evil baby-killers the anti’s paint them to be!

    1. Thank you, Cal! Yes, this a surprise to me because in the media I used to hear stories of senseless deaths because parents left pistols sitting on nightstands. It seemed to me that even gun owners shouldn’t be trusted with their own guns. When I began participating in the shooting community I was very surprised how much safety and responsibility is emphasized. It was a breath of fresh air that you don’t see from the other side! I clearly saw the difference between the average American gun owner that cares deeply about safety and the community, and the irresponsible/criminal guys with guns. That changed everything and I was hoping to show that in my article.

  18. Our state is one of the “democratic-controlled” ones that doesn’t allow us to have full-auto anything. Anything that requires class 3 or items on the NFA list are verbotten for us. Frankly, the liberals forget the fact that the majority of mass shooting incidents all had shooting rates far lower than anyone could do with a plain old semi-auto handgun. While the AR15 may “look scary”, it’s no more deadly than my semi-auto handgun (especially since most of the mass shootings occurred at “contact distances”, not shooting at 500+ yards, thus a rifle isn’t necessary. Anyone who is proficient can easily swap a mag in a second or less, so mag capacity limits make no sense at all (the perp will merely carry more 10-round mags). If the “no common sense” politicians want to reduce fatalities in mass shooting events, they need to allow concealed carry in ALL 50 states. Our state has NEVER issued a carry permit to anyone who wasn’t somehow connected to the police, etc. despite being a “may issue” state. “May issue” merely is another way of saying “no issue” when you have liberals in the hierarchy of the police departments. The phrase “Lucky live Hawaii” certainly doesn’t apply in this case. Our infamous mass shooting case here (many years ago) involved workplace violence at Xerox; if we had a “shall issue” law, some lives “may” have been spared and the perp taken out; but maybe not since Xerox had a “no gun policy” in their company premises anyway.

  19. We fear what we do not understand.

    Once we understand a thing, that fear goes away.

    The hardest part is getting past the initial fear. Well done on your part.

    Welcome to a new world.

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