Eating our own. Division among gun owners, the antigun advocate’s best friend.

The fight to protect and maintain the right to keep and bear arms in the United States is ongoing, played as both a long and short game by both sides of the debate. With recent mass shootings, the topic of gun control is in the headlines, chambers of government and on people’s mind. We also have the leadership of the National Rifle Association in a dumpster fire fight, taking away from their power to advocate. What’s worse however, is how many gun owners and potential gun owners have been taken out of the fight by the attitudes and division brought by other gun owners.

One only has to look as far as any gun posting on social media, or the comments on any article, to see this division. It comes from the focus on 1911 vs Glock, AR15 vs AK, or anything related to value-branded firearms such as Taurus, Bersa or God forbid, Hi Point. The animosity, anger, bitterness and rudeness on these posts drives away both seasoned gun owners and new people alike. “It’s all in good fun” doesn’t have much weight when you are the one whose question about the new Hi Point is shouted down, mocked and belittled.

I have been actively involved in protecting Second Amendment rights since the mid 1980’s and have seen division used to the detriment of it for the entire time. Pistol vs rifle guys, hunters vs target shooters, traditional arms vs military style weapons. More recently it has been high dollar weapons vs guns “poors” own. Mockery of the “poverty pony” by those who can afford HK 416’s and the like. All are supposed to be “in good fun.” The problem is, in typical internet human nature, people don’t know when to stop. Or a group gangs up on the Anderson rifle or Taurus guy. All too often, that person gets a bad taste, or worse, walks away entirely.

How many votes can the pro-gun cause afford to lose? How many potential gun owners can we insult away? How many people will end up not owning something that is “good enough” because they were convinced that they should wait until they could spend $100 more and pay for it with their well-being or life because they were convinced that they shouldn’t buy a Hi Point when they were endangered and couldn’t afford anything else?

These are very real scenarios and not only are gun owners eating our own, we’re keeping others from joining us by our words and actions, and potentially endangering lives. We need to change our approach. We need to treat allies respectfully. In the end, we just need to not be jerks.

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