Thoughts on Broadening the Gun Culture Tent

I am leaving tomorrow for a dysfunctional family reunion in Indianapolis called the National Rifle Association Annual Meetings & Exhibits (NRAAM). I am attending the meetings in part because I am the lunch speaker at the National Firearms Law Seminar which overlaps with the first day of the NRAAM. My topic is, “Gun Culture 2.0, or How a Liberal Professor Became an Armed American.”

Without spoiling the entire talk (which I hope to be able to make available on-line after the event), one of the points I will be making is that Gun Culture 2.0 is diverse and inclusive. An implication of this is that gun culture is (much) bigger than the NRA and (much, much) bigger than NRATV.

Although it doesn’t get much press, there are many in gun culture who want to “broaden the tent,” both to recognize and foster racial, sexual, gender, regional, religious, and political diversity. Among these are Tiffany Johnson and Aqil Qadir of Citizens Safety Academy.

Johnson and Qadir gave a presentation on “The Changing Face of the Industry” at the 2019 Rangemaster Tactical Conference in New Orleans. I was sorry to miss the presentation, but they were kind enough to send me their slides and earlier today I read a reflection on their session written by Annette Evans, the Beauty Behind the Blast. With Evans’s permission, I am reprinting her comments here:

Look, talking about race, gender, generational divides, and socioeconomic gulfs are hard. Tiff and Aq did it with grace and humor, while giving concrete strategies for broadening our tent as firearms owners and Second Amendment supporters.

My favorite piece? Not the part where I showed up, shortly followed by one of my heroes, Vera Koo.

Tiffany Johnson presenting at Rangemaster Tactical Conference 2019. Photo by Annette Evans.

It was this:

Meet people at 60%. It’s not enough to get up to that middle ground between you and someone else. Put a hand across that line and genuinely try to connect, with compassion and humility because it’s another human being over there.

Slide from “The Changing Face of the Industry,” by Tiffany Johnson and Aqil Qadir, Rangemaster Tactical Conference 2019.

When we do that, we find true commonalities and similarities. We find a way to discuss constructively rather than debate destructively. It’s not just about winning hearts and minds to “our side” so much as people helping people understand where we’re coming from. It’s about learning, in our guts, that there aren’t (usually) monsters on any side of the table. Just folks who are trying to do the best they can with their lives.

And it’s about making sure that self-defense is truly available to everyone who needs it, whether they fit neatly into the popular demographic box of the day or not.

That’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, so I really appreciated how this session helped me articulate how we become more inclusive of those around us.

I have been thinking a lot about ways of broadening the gun culture tent, too. So I appreciate Annette Evans channeling Tiffany Johnson and Aqil Qadir channeling Tony Simon, who I have never met, but would like to.

Photo collage courtesy of Tony Simon

10 comments

  1. “Disfunctional family reunion” – I like that. We certainly can’t afford to not be inclusive, and I always try to reach out to as many people as I can no matter their ‘group identity’. Anyway, have a good trip to Indy, see you on Friday.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not really sure how to “foster diversity, since that feels so artificial and I’m sure it comes across that way to others as well. To my mind, if you support the personal ownership of firearms to protect yourself, your loved ones, or your community, or for any lawful purpose, you’re in the club. I’ll share a range with you if you are a responsible gunhandler or are willing to learn the rules, and I’ll probably let you play with my toys (I’m a showoff). I don’t have to agree with you on anything else, and I might not even like you, but that’s not required, and on this topic isn’t even relevant.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The ‘dysfunctional’ phrase is priceless, I often refer to my own flesh and blood as such. Not my ‘family’ as I am blessed to consider my fellow sister and brother shooters my family also.
    I also pray this talk will be available after the presentation. We need more publicity from citizens who think outside the box and recognize the elephant in the room!!

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  4. The issue I see is economics should not be a barrier to exercising your Second Amendment rights but it is. Someone who can only find a Wal-Mart or McDonald’s equivalent pay scale job cannot afford the $2K rifle, $1K pistol and the, I have no idea how much in gear, training classes to use all that.

    My 3 most recent firearms purchases have been a Charter Arms Undercover revolver and two PSA AR’s. I have spent less than $1K in total on all three and that over three years. My AR’s are very basic, iron sight, carry handle, patterns. I like that retro look. If I had the money I would be buying the Brownell’s fantastic retro line. But I could not drop $1200 at a pop.

    I got my AR’s over a year and a half. I bought complete upper’s and lower’s on sale with no shipping. I bought my carry handle’s, BCG’s and charging handles separate from different companies. Daniel Defense and such make fantastic rifles but they are not for people making less that $20K/yr.

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    • The thing is that all the gear and expensive guns aren’t required to exercise rights. Except on the margins the cost of the gear is not a major factor, given a rough equivalence in skill and training. A war-surplus Mauser and an LEO-turn-in Glock will shoot about the same as multi-thousand-dollar firearms, training/mindset/conditions/circumstances/luck will make much more difference.

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      • I almost bought an 8×57 but the cost of ammo drove me off. If I want to burn money, I have the 300 H&H. The fun thing about the AR is that ammo is cheap, the gun is fun and accurate, and its evil looks put off all my liberal friends (except David Yamane and fellow lab rat Jim Rickman, of course).

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