While it’s never been said directly to me personally, I know that I have been lumped into a vast group of gun owners who are often told that we love our guns more than we love safety. According to many people, devotion to the Second Amendment has replaced personal responsibility. Numerous individuals have actually asked the question, “When will gun owners love their children more than they love their guns?” It’s been quoted time and time again — by people like rapper Eminem and California Rep. Eric Swalwell — that gun owners supposedly value firearms over human life.

Not that I pay much attention to either of the anti-gun folks mentioned above, but this baseless assumption is maddening. Apparently just having firearms automatically puts me in a category of selfish, irrational, loudmouth, callous, uncaring wackos who cheer when the body count rises due to our country’s “raging epidemic of violence.” Gun owners allegedly prefer fear, death, suicide, brutality and hostility over peace, life, health, kindness and solidarity.

It’s Not the Gun

Do you want to know something shocking? I don’t love guns. Not at all. I really couldn’t care less about the guns themselves. Guns are merely tools in my home. And while I am very glad that I can potentially count on a firearm as an option for home and self-defense, that doesn’t come anywhere close to love … not for an inanimate object.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy having guns. I do really like them. Guns can be functional and practical … or frivolous and fun! But I really wish we could turn the narrative around and help the naysayers understand the truth: Responsible gun owners do not love guns.

It’s the Idea

When it comes to firearms, the true admiration and appreciation lies in the process, not the product. For some, guns are a hobby. For others, guns are collectibles. For certain groups, guns are a sport. For even more people, guns are a means to provide. For hundreds of millions of Americans, guns are important options for defense and protection.

All in all, it’s not a love for the thing itself but rather a love for what it represents: freedom. And ultimately, while I do not love the guns themselves, what I do love is my family and my three kids … and my right and ability to protect them.