I wouldn’t label myself as a gamer. Honestly, I started — and just about ended — my video game exploits on an Atari 2600. (I still have it AND it still works, I might add!) “Space Invaders,” “Yars’ Revenge” and “SeaQuest” were my top three games. I played until my thumb was numb. But I rarely beat anything. (You really couldn’t beat many games back then, unless you dedicated several days of non-stop gameplay.) I dabbled a little in the short-lived ColecoVision and played very few of my friends’ Nintendo Entertainment System games over the years. But it wasn’t until PlayStation 2 and Nintendo Wii came around that I really even picked up a controller again.

I entered the video game scene once again when a certain stylized, first-person “looter-shooter” was released in 2009. This was an option that I could play couch co-op with my husband (rather than watching him play a game by himself for hours on end, usually until I fell asleep). I discovered a game I loved … and obsessed over just a bit! So when the fourth installation of my beloved dystopian “Borderlands” released in September, I was excited to once again talk vault hunter stats, skill trees and level-ups with fellow gamers.

Enter Player Two

Serendipitously, when I heard Andrew Gottlieb, director of outreach and development with The Second Amendment Foundation (2AF), speak at the Gun Rights Policy Conference about a new video game initiative just a few weeks later, I was intrigued. Imagine — a new, innovative opportunity to share gun safety and responsibility with others … and possibly bring more 2A supporters together!

I had a chance to ask Andrew some questions to find out more details and specifics. Here’s what I learned:

What Is the Official Title of the New Program/Initiative? When Does It Launch?

The name of the program is “2AGaming.” It will officially launch on December 1, 2019. Until then, there will be occasional test streams happening to make sure everything is ready and working. 

What Prompted/Motivated the Creation of This New Initiative?

I have been a gamer for most of my life. One of the first games I started playing was called “Counter-Strike.” Because I grew up in the firearms industry, I recognized all of the guns in it. I played competitively long before gaming grew into what it is today. My background [in gaming] has always kept me interested, especially when video games get blamed for criminal acts. I could never really find the right way to get involved. In the last year, I got back into gaming, and it all clicked. I knew what I needed to do, so I started laying the groundwork.

How Will This Program Work? (What Platforms/Methods/People Will Be Utilized to Reach the Audience?)

2AGaming (sponsored by RainierArms.com) will be streaming on Facebook at FB.com/2AFGaming, or you can find the latest stream at FB.gg/2AFGaming. Facebook Gaming has been amazing for us, and we were accepted into their “Level Up” program already. The content will be centered on games that involve firearms. We hope to have members from the community such as instructors, activists and advocates involved as guest participants. We also are setting up a Discord server for people to come hang out and talk about gaming and guns.

What Is the Main Mission or Overriding Goal for the Program?

The main goal for the program is to reach out to gamers before their views of the Second Amendment and firearms turn negative. After the domestic terrorist attack in El Paso, video games were blamed. The reaction from the gaming community was to turn that blame on guns. As someone who is part of both communities, it hurt to see people who have so much in common turning on [each other] because they were used as a scapegoat (just like law-abiding gun owners often are). We need these people on our side. Firearms, when used safely, can be a lot of fun. That is a side of the industry that we need to share more.

Is This Effort Targeted at Current Gun Owners Who Are Gamers or at Gamers Who Need to Know More About Guns, Gun Safety and Training in Real Life?

We want to reach out to gamers in general, especially those who play games that focus on guns. I’ve found that a lot of gamers are veterans or gun owners, and they enjoy shooting. We need these people to not feel like they should be quiet about things they do and enjoy. We also want to reach out to people who don’t know anything about guns outside of the games they play so we can get our message across that guns are not evil and can be used responsibly. The idea is to grow the firearms community as a whole.

What Messages Do You Plan to Share?

The main message is: It is not only your right, but it is OK to like guns and support the Second Amendment. The secondary message is: It is okay to be open with your views and experience and share that you like gaming and guns. Supporting the Second Amendment is not a partisan issue and never should have become one. We accept everyone into this community.

Political Leaders (Including President Trump) Have Stated That “Gruesome and Grisly Video Games” Are a Problem. Many Have Even Mentioned a Supposed Connection Between Video Games and Mass Shootings. How Will 2AF’s Program Address and/or Deal With These Concerns?

These statements, linking video games to gun violence, are what caused me to start streaming before the official launch. Statements such as these only harm people who, under normal circumstances, might have supported their right to bear arms but instead felt labeled. They were backed into a corner; blamed for something that they were in no way responsible for. The numbers of gamers who vote in elections and play video games featuring firearms is 48 million and growing daily. We have had conversations with the White House and other politicians, and we think that they understood our message. Video games, just like guns, do not cause violence.

About Beth Alcazar

Beth Alcazar, author of Women’s Handgun & Self-Defense Fundamentals, associate editor of Concealed Carry Magazine and creator of the Pacifiers & Peacemakers blog, has enjoyed nearly two decades of working and teaching in the firearms industry. Beth is passionate about safe and responsible firearms use and enthusiastic about teaching others. She is certified as an instructor through SIG Sauer Academy, ALICE Institute, DRAW School, TWAW and I.C.E. Training and is a USCCA Certified Instructor and Senior Training Counselor.