Monday, July 31, 2017

Gun Industry, Gun Culture, Gun Politics: A Call for Reformation

For over three decades I have studied a wide variety of topics about guns.  I did this simply because I like guns.  I like everything about them.  Over the years I have seen many changes.  Some of them good, some not so good. 

What I have noticed, especially in the past 10-15 years, is the industry as a whole is stagnating.  The industry produces the same products with little improvement or change and many new products are just crap and do not serve the customer well.  The culture is not changing fast enough to keep up with the changing demographics.  Nor is it adapting to the needs of todays shooters.  Especially those new to guns and gun culture.  Finally the politics are old and stale and highly ineffective. 
It is time for a reformation of the gun community to take us forward into the 21st century.  I fear if we do not adapt and change for the better there will not be a gun culture within 2 generations (approx. 50 years). 

Below I will outline some of the problems I am seeing and what may be done to improve the gun community.

Gun Industry:
First I want to start with the gun industry.  I will use more of list form instead of writing a Tolstoy novel on each line item.  Nor will this be a complete list.  Just some of more obvious issues.

1.    First item is an overall drop in quality.  I’ve noticed this drop across all manufacturers.
a.    I would rather see a price increase than a drop in quality.
b.    The fit and finish is not a nice as it was 10-20 years ago. 
                                               i.     Compare a new Smith revolver to an old one.  Especially a pre-lock revolver.  Night and day difference.  Yet, they cost the same.   
2.    Manufacturers building the same designs they have been for many decades without change or improvement. 
a.    An example would be rifle stocks.  Unless you go to the aftermarket, most rifles stocks are the same design from 100 years ago.  A time when iron sights ruled the day. Not very useful with optics which sit higher up.  Time for manufacturers to improve their designs. 
b.    Another example is Revolver stocks.  These haven’t changed in decades.  Why not design something that actually fits the human hand?  Revolvers are great but the ergonomics suck.  
c.     One final example is holsters.  Most holsters out there are crap.  I wish the manufacturers would update or go out of business, but they continue due to the ignorance of the consuming public.  A good example is Lethal Lace.  This is a shit product and should go away.
d.    A couple of good examples are the Ruger Precision rifle and the Magpul Hunter stock.  Both are adjustable for length of pull and for comb height to fit the individual user.  Not perfect, but for the price point very well done.
e.    Manufacturers need to update their designs to be better and more useful to the public.
3.    Educate the public on the use of your products.  Help consumers decide what they actual need.  Don’t just sell crap because you can.  Possible trim down the number of product options. 
a.    An example would be scopes.  Most of the public probably does not really understand what they actually need in a rifle scope.  What magnification is needed?  What reticule is best suited for the task? What features are appropriate and necessary?
b.    Educate the consumer on what is actually useful and what is just unnecessary fluff. 
4.    Better educated sales staff at guns stores.
a.    The businesses selling guns need to be better educated so they can give good advice to customers. 
                                               i.     I should never hear from a salesman that a rifle has the wrong magazines.  No, not the wrong magazine, proprietary magazines.  There is a difference.  Actual event I encountered.  I know better because I have the experience.  What about a new comer to the gun community?  What will they think when a salesman tells them a rifle has the wrong magazine?
                                             ii.     I understand profit margins with guns is slim, but it may be better to hire a few knowledgeable employees than to hire nothing but shop monkeys.  Also, I should not know more than a factory sales rep. Yep, ran into a Ruger sales rep. that could do nothing more than parrot the generic information that is found on the Ruger webpage.  Dear lord, hire, or train, competent sales staff.    

These are just a few examples of things I see wrong with the gun industry. There are more but I’m not trying to write a Tolstoy novel.

The industry needs to update for the 21st century.  Adapt to the changing demographics and help supply customers what they actually need.  Help educate the consumer on what is good and why.  Then also produce good products and update them as necessary.  The knowledge base of firearms has increased significantly over the past few decades, so use that knowledge and make better products. 

Gun Culture:
Now I want to move onto gun culture. 

1.    One thing that must change is the image of the “typical” gun owner.  Currently it stands as a middle aged white man.  This is an old stereotype who’s time has come to die. 
a.    Gun culture is for everyone (except Felons and the criminally insane)
b.    We must be open to the changing demographics and welcome newcomers.  
2.    Retailers and gun ranges need to be more open and help newcomers be more comfortable and welcomed.       
a.    Help newbies learn the ins and outs of guns and gun culture. 
b.    Stop talking down to women. They are capable.  Teach them correctly.
c.     Have a more open and friendly environment.  Your shop should feel comfortable to come inside.  This is especially important for those potential customers who may not feel comfortable around guns but want to learn.    
3.    Gun culture needs to change and be seen as a martial art.  Guns are not some magic talisman.  They don’t grant you power or authority or protect you from evil.  They are inanimate objects.  True they are deadly weapons and that puts them in the realm of martial arts.  We need to treat them as such and train as such.
4.    We need to change how we train.  We need to develop GunFu into a regular training regiment.   
a.    Most people take a basic class or are taught by their cousins, sisters, brother and they think they know how to use a gun.  Or worse, they just kinda’ “figure it out” on their own.  (even worse)
b.    Nope.  Just like any other martial art, use of a gun is a perishable skill and takes dedicated time and practice to get good and to stay proficient. 
c.     Taking one weekend class and going to the range twice a year is not good enough.  In most other martial arts, students are going weekly.  One to five times a week and it takes years to truly be proficient.  We need to develop the same mentality and training regiment with guns. 
d.    Does this mean dry fire, airsoft, more shooting ranges, shooting simulators, videos, books, all of the above?  I don’t know the answer, but we need to update for the 21st century.  Make it easier to find good information, especially for newbies.  Lets use the power of the internet to spread more and better training. 
                                               i.     Yes, I know there are lots of internet resources.  Blog pages, YouTube videos, books, etc.  How easy is it for newbies to find good information versus bad opinion?  This is what I’m talking about.  Make the information more organized and easier to find. 
1.    This goes along with gun shops being a little more friendly and accommodating. 
5.    We need to stand together as a community and stop the petty squabbles between gun groups.  The collectors need to support the hunters who need to support the target shooters who need to support the tactical shooters and on and on.  We must stand united together as a community. 

Here are a few items I think can be improved in gun culture. 

Gun Politics:
Finally, the hot potato.  The politics of guns! 

1.    First off, we need to stand together as a gun community.  We must stop the circular firing squads we sometimes form.  We must stop eating our own. 
2.    We must have a unified platform to present to the world. 
a.    Notice no matter which anti-gun group you talk to or which media outlet is presenting the news, they always have identical talking points and identical language?  They all use “background checks”, “gun show loophole”, “gun safety”, etc. 
b.    We need the same unified platform for the pro-gun side.  Unified talking points, unified data, etc.  We must stand together.  The data and root philosophy is on our side.  We must convey the message better. 
3.    We need an emotional component to the pro-gun argument.
a.    The anti-gun groups use mostly emotional components, sprinkled with distorted facts, to great effect.  Simple logic and facts will not accomplish the task.  It is time to add to the debate.  Guns are used daily in self-defense and managed hunting.  Time to give those positives a face and a voice. 
4.    It is time to go on the offensive in the debate.  We have been defensive for far too long.  Valuable time and resources are wasted being defensive.  The anti-gunners make an accusation, and we defend.  The pro-gun story appears weak.  Time to take the fight to the anti-gunners.
a.    For example:  The anti’s claim children are killed daily due to guns.  A very emotional argument used to great effect.
                                               i.     We hit back by accusing the anti’s of being anti-child.  That they hate children.  Otherwise, why would anti-gunners block the Eddie Eagle program from being taught in every school.  A real safety program for children. 
                                             ii.     Yes, it is time to get mean.  Otherwise the anti-gunners will continue to lay down blocks in our path.  Lay down enough blocks and you have a wall.  A wall that is not easily knocked down.
1.    What are these blocks you ask?  New York Safe Act.  Magazine capacity restrictions.  Universal background checks.  Ammunition taxes (Seattle, WA.)  Little by little they lay down blocks.  In a few years they have a wall. 
5.    We need a new universal platform to be the face and spokesman for gun owners.  Unfortunately, the NRA has been marginalized by the anti-gunners.  I don’t think the NRA is truly effective anymore.  They have been demonized so much their name is tainted. 
a.    What this new platform is, I don’t know.  Is it a new version of the NRA?  Is it a federation of existing pro-gun groups?  I don’t know.  But it must be better and more effective and better represents all gun owners.  Including the new, changing demographics.
b.    Should we include the NRA?  Yes, they have many valuable resources that will be needed.  And they are still part of the gun community. No need to form a circular firing squad. 

This outlines some changes that need to be improved in the political arena.  


Here are some of my ideas for improving the gun industry, culture and politics. 
I don’t have all the answers.  But I do know that we must change.  We must improve.  We must stand together, united to make it better.  To be better!  To take gun ownership into the 21st century.  Otherwise, guns and gun ownership may be a distant memory relegated to history. 


July 2017

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