Today someone on Quora asked what the difference was between a 9 mm bullet and a 22 mm bullet. Okay, you all understand, this is someone who wants to know the difference between a 9 mm and a .22 caliber bullet, but they don’t know how to ask the question. Yes, its a stunning display of ignorance, but they don’t teach this stuff in school any more.
If you haven’t looked at Quora, you’ll be amazed by the alarmingly insipid comments and the questions that betray a total ignorance of firearms. I try to dedicate an hour a week to answering some of these questions, and correcting the bad answers others give. And just like there are bad questions, there are bad answers. But some of the answers on Quora are things of beauty. In fact, I wish I had copied some to my “what to tell an idiot” file, because some of them are that good. But I try to get on and answer as often as I can. I do this for a reason.
The main reason I do this is because it is far better to educate than advocate. If you can educate the public about firearms, you can get them to understand that they are no more dangerous than any other tool in the garage (in other words, harmless if used properly, dangerous if used dangerously). When you tell someone like the questioner above that gun control doesn’t work, and especially if he can find a metric to English conversion on the internet, he thinks there are people out there shooting bullets the size of your thumb on a regular basis.
If you ask the general public, what they know about guns they’ve learned on TV. What do we know about TV? We know it is rarely if ever accurate. We see Dirty Harry firing his .44 magnum one-handed with amazing accuracy. We see hoodlums holding their guns sideways (and not putting out their eyes with spent casings). We see silencers that make guns go “pfft!” We do not see reality.
Adding to this bad information about guns, there is bad information about gunshots. People shot in the chest with a .38 do not walk out of the hospital the next day with their arm in a sling. Instead they spend the next two weeks spitting up blood and trailing around a chest tube drainage device, all the while receiving pain killers because every breath is a fresh reminder they were shot. People either live or die after a gun shot wound. But you never see them in rehab. You never see them in the ICU on a ventilator. You never see them 40 pounds lighter when they finally come out of the hospital. You never see them cower every time there’s a loud noise.
We know Hollywood hates us. We know that this is purposeful disinformation that they spread. We also know that the media plays a huge role in convincing the general public what they should be very afraid of.
So it only makes sense that our job should be to teach. If you educate, you don’t have to worry about the government legislating your rights out of existence. It is never too late to start the battle to teach people about firearms. Explain why you carry. Explain why you spend at least one day a month at the range. Explain why you work hard to be able to continue to carry in confidence.
If you do this, you make it much more likely that when you’re advocating for our causes, your friends and neighbors who do not own guns (and who don’t want to) will think “Fred is a very responsible gun owner who taught me a lot. If he thinks this is a good law, it must be a good law.”
Educate, so we don’t have to Legislate.