It was cold, actually, it was damn cold outside. If I recall correctly, it was the middle of February and there was about an inch of snow on the ground. This was almost two years ago and the day that I took my romantic interest (now fiancee) out to my family farm for the first time. Now, your average person doesn’t necessarily enjoy not being able to feel their toes after ten minutes outside. Come to find out, she was absolutely your average person in this aspect. But, the thought of frozen toes didn’t phase me when I knew I was going to be able to put some rounds down range that afternoon.
When I picked her up from her apartment in a truck with the back seat full of gun cases and ammunition boxes I sensed a bit of nervous excitement. Granted, I didn’t know her very well at this time but most people can pick up on those cues when they’re present. We had small talk on the forty five minute drive to the farm, but for the most part we talked about her childhood and how her father was a gun enthusiast, like myself. She had told me that she had always been around firearms but that they still made her nervous and she had never fired one before. I continued on to tell her that if she wanted to try it today I would be more than happy to teach her but to not feel obligated that she had to give it a shot….no pun intended.
When we arrived to the farm I drove to my usual shooting spot, a small 5 acre field on the back of the property. I began to unload gun cases and ammunition boxes and I could feel the nervous energy building. I couldn’t tell if it was my nervousness of being with her, her nervousness about being around guns or a combination of both. As I finished hanging a target and loading magazines I handed her some earplugs and shooting glasses. She put both of which on and I asked her if she was alright with me to begin shooting. I believe she really appreciated the concern and safety I took that day. I also made it a point to inform her of everything I was doing and why I was doing it.
Later that day, after much thought, she decided to try her hand at shooting one of my semi-auto 9mm pistols. I must have went over everything with her a dozen times before she ever fired her first shot, even down to dry firing the pistol to get a feel for the proper grip and trigger squeeze. I’m not sure if doing those things was more nerve racking for myself or her. Honestly I was so concerned that I had missed something important that could turn this cold, great day into a cold catastrophe. Fortunately nothing out of the ordinary transpired. She was able to shoot and quell some of the nervousness and illusions that far too often plague the firearms community.
Today, after much practice and education on her part, she is a proud gun owner that is excited for her concealed carry permit test. Aside from that, she is also a much more relaxed and confident person in the aspect that she made the choice to be able to defend herself from bodily harm or death if necessary. It also makes me more at ease knowing that in a defensive situation she is trained and competent, which could potentially save my own life one day.
After helping her over the past two years with everything gun related I began to have a few burning questions of my own. What if no one ever took the time to help new enthusiasts? What if we all just worried about our own way of thinking and anyone that’s nervous or apprehensive is just wrong? What if we all made a better effort to educate the uneducated? What if we spent more time showing people the facts about this lifestyle instead of arguing about different viewpoints? As the firearm community we have to do better. We have to see the big picture. Not all people grew up around guns. Not everyone has had the same experiences as we did. People always have, and always will have different opinions. We must focus on making sure those opinions are based on facts and not illusions. We need to focus on the positive things that gun ownership and carrying can bring about. Because at this point the only thing that is being focused on is the negative aspects.
If we come together as a community we can help to show more positive aspects, which in turn, attracts more enthusiasts and law abiding gun owners. I’m not saying that everyone needs to carry a firearm daily. I would much prefer they didn’t if they’re not comfortable doing so. But I believe everyone should be educated and informed about something that has become such a prevalent part of society. Only through education can we bring comfort and begin to ease hostility on both sides of the aisle. Maybe, in the end, we could sway a few people on the fence about firearms to just give it a shot and not let others opinions form their own. I urge everyone that is a law abiding gun owner to introduce someone new to firearms. Let them ask questions, no matter how ignorant they may sound. They’re asking questions because there is an interest. The absolute worst thing we can do as a community is kill the interest of someone new. Lets not forget that we all had those same fears, questions and jitters at some point in time.