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L. Neil Smith's
Number 577, July 4, 2010

"He pissed me off."

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The Second Amendment, The Shooting Range, And The Race Card
by Neale Osborn

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Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

Recently, the Supreme Court gave us Hoplophiles (gun people) a half-assed victory. They acknowledged that the 2nd Amendment is about an individual right, and applies to the states as well as the federal government. Of course, they failed to go far enough, but it is a start. Then Obama made his speech about illegal aliens, and that brought to my mind the HUGE divide between the races. These two un-related ideas then met an article about liquor stores, gun shops, and minority areas of town. It made me think about all the different ranges I've shot at over the last 46 years.

In Jersey, When I grew up in the late 60s and early 70s, my Pop and I would go to gravel pits or the dump to plink with .22 rifles. When cops stopped by, it was to shoot a few rounds with us, and make sure there was parental supervision. I lived 7 miles from one of the worst hit places for the race riots (Springwood Avenue, Asbury Park). Yet we often shot with blacks, Puerto Ricans, and a few Chinese. At the range, we were all just guys shooting together (not many women shot in that area, don't know why. My sisters were usually the only girls there.) We talked guns, life, money, politics, and more guns. If anyone had a problem with their weapo, we all stepped up to help fix it. If your shooting stunk, we all worked together to help figure out why, and fix it. I made friends from all three groups, some of whom I still talk to when I visit my parents.

Fast forward 10 years. I moved to Colorado. I lived for 2 years in Trinidad, Co, while attending gunsmithing school. #0 miles away was the NRA Whittington Center, their headquarters, and lots of different ranges to shoot. Two or three of the guys I went to school were about the most prejudiced guys out there, the other 60 or so were not. We all went to Raton (where the Whittington Center is located) to shoot, fairly often. While there, we would meet people from every walk of life. People of Mexican, Japanese, American Indian, India Indian, African, Chinese, even one of Eskimo descent were there shooting at different times. Often as members, and just as often as guests of members. Even the prejudiced assholes from school treated the shooters as equals at the range. Was it out of fear? I don't think so. Most of the time, they said stupid things like "He might be a dumb Mex, but he's gun people, so he ain't too bad." I know, this doesn't sound good for gun people, but I think it is a sign that even idiots can be taught, and having something in comon with someone you think is inferior to you can teach you to grow up. Then, I moved north to Ft. Collins, where the prejudice was even less. And at the ranges there (notably the Weld County Gun Club), I NEVER met anyone who professed to dislike anyone on the basis of color or country of origin. Everyone there was just another gun nut, out for a fun day at the range. Note that due to the presence of CSU, a huge college campus, there was a huge number of people not just from around the country, but from around the world, who came to the rang to shoot.

Now, I live in Rural Steuben County, New York. I'm a member of a local range. And people of all colors shoot there. and they are just some more gun people. So here's my solution to several problems, all rolled up in one. I want all my fellow hoplophiles to invite a non-gunner to the range. If you know one who isn't of your particular skin tone, even better. Pistol, rifle, shotgun, bow and arrow, whatever the range, bring a person who normally doesn't shoot to shoot. Don't ask for ammo money the first visit (we ALL know they will mst likely want to come again, they can pay next trip), just teach them safety and the basics. If they are anti-gun, ask them to just come watch, and participate only if they decide to. Most will at least try. Once they do, they are usually hooked. The problems we can fix are these.

Anti-gun people are often hoplophobes (afraid of guns). Familiarity often removes most of the fear. Anti-gun people often think we are all just insular, unfriendly people. If they ever came to the range, they could meet the real gun people, the decent people who are just normal Americans just like them. And last, it would not only show that we are not just white, uptight, and far to the right men. We can show them that there are men, women and children. Depending on the area, there are people of every race, creed, and sexual persuasion. We can dispell the notion that most gun people are "Bitter Clingers", and instead we are just average Americans, just like them. So shoot safe, shoot often, and share your sport. It will pay off.

As usual, I also posted this article on Newsvine. Again, what do you think?

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