I read an article recently that said most people cannot even name one of their next-door neighbors. Note that this was not New York City residents who live in high-rise apartments and condos. Even suburban homeowners typically know only one or two people in their neighborhoods.
In the area where I live (Central Florida), I know not only my next-door neighbors but also the people behind me and those across the street. I have met and socialized with almost a dozen neighbors down the street and on the next block too.
YOU May Need to Break the Ice
As a firearms instructor and a corporate trainer for many years, I have no trouble talking to people I don’t know. But not everyone is particularly outgoing. Even if you are on the shy side, making the effort to at least introduce yourself to people in your area is a good idea.
Knowing who lives in your neighborhood has numerous benefits, not just in terms of socializing but also in terms of safety. Being aware of who lives where can help you notice when something unusual is going on. Why is that truck parked in front of the neighbors’ house in the middle of the day when both people who live there work a 9-to-5 job?
In my case, I have discovered that more than a few neighbors are gun owners — from hunters to competitive shooters. A surprising number of them also turned out to have concealed carry licenses, which is always pleasant news. Having similar interests is always a great way to establish new friendships.
Mention forming a neighborhood watch group and some people immediately recoil, imagining something like a Homeowners’ Association (HOA). Such organizations have gotten reputations as nightmares in some areas, rife with absurd restrictions and arguments over what color someone’s garage is.
But establishing some completely voluntary activities among your neighbors doesn’t have to be formal at all. As long as those who wish to participate agree on some basic principles, it can be a very simple process. It doesn’t matter if your neighbors are down the hall in an apartment complex, down the street in suburbia or down the road in a rural area.
How you get started may be as simple as mentioning the idea to the neighbors you already know. In addition, you can print up a short flyer and distribute it to people you don’t know. Handing them out in person can double as a way to meet new people.
Stick to the Basics
Start out with suggestions and/or reminders of simple do’s and don’ts. One of the more common problems today is theft. Porch pirates are those people you see on video running up to houses and making off with deliveries from Amazon or UPS.
Another problem is theft from garages. At least two of my neighbors have lost things like tools, bicycles and, in one case, a 5-gallon gas can! Reminding people to shut their garage doors when they run to the store can make a difference.
Firearms Are Optional
Throughout your interactions with your neighbors and friends, it will be up to you to decide how much of your firearms interest you divulge. For example, I am a member of a superb shooting club and have taken several of my neighbors to shoot there.
Just remember that everyone is different. Use your own good judgment.
About John Caile
John Caile, contributing writer for USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine, has more than 35 years of experience in concealed carry training and practical handgun shooting skills. As communications director for the Minnesota Gun Owners Political Action Committee, John was instrumental in passing Minnesota’s landmark concealed carry permit law. Certified through the NRA as an instructor of Pistol, Rifle, Shotgun, Home Firearm Safety and Personal Protection in the Home, John continues his lifelong activism for gun owners and their rights in Palm Coast, Florida. He has appeared on national talk radio and network and public television and is frequently published in the press.