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Perception … and Reality

One of the most overused tactics of the anti-gun crowd is to try to make 2nd Amendment supporters appear to be crazed, unstable and dangerous. To make this point, they insist on some make-believe “Wild West” world of everyday citizens with guns on their hips who constantly brandish their weapons and even shoot people over simple things like cutting in line or having disagreements. And while some of the responsibly armed may not be as well trained (or as well tempered) as others, the notion of complete anarchy simply because people are carrying firearms for self-protection is ludicrous. But that’s what the anti-gun crowd wants people to believe … and what they desperately try to persuade others to accept as truth.

The saddest thing is, in many ways, their tactics are working. And many people believe that those who carry guns also carry a desire to shoot people for no reason. But I’ve seen the complete opposite. The legally armed citizens, firearms students and competitive shooters I have encountered are some of the most cautious, respectful, law-abiding and careful people I know. But as many people like to say, “Perception is reality.” And this lawless free-for-all seems to be the anti-gunners’ reality … no matter how inaccurate and insulting it may be.

Robert Zavaleta, a friend and fellow member of gun rights group Bama Carry, offered a very compelling example of how skewed perceptions toward those who carry can be.

He stated, “On one visit to a local fast food joint, while waiting on my order, I noticed a teenager walking in and taking up a spot in line. He was wearing his gi (karate uniform), sporting a few patches that indicated some of his achievements. One might assume he was just leaving a class, as one does not usually eat immediately before participating in the exertions of such training. Having had some training in the sport, I noted his brown belt (and the skill level that signified), and I gave him a slight nod of acknowledgment. Then I surreptitiously studied the crowd assembled in the eatery. Some noted his manner of dress with mild curiosity. Others merely observed his presence, accepted him as falling within the realm of “normal,” then moved along.

“I chuckled inwardly and had to marvel. Here, amidst the seemingly tame moms, children, metro dads, etc., was another kind of ‘wolf’ or ‘sheepdog’ … someone with the capability to maim or otherwise injure or even kill a number of them (without the aid of weapons) before they could snap out of their stunned inability to act and flee or rush him as a group. None of them were concerned that their well-being and their lives were at risk.

“Now, imagine: Enter an open carrier (me). Admittedly, I got a few blithe looks of acknowledgement and acceptance from some. Added to that, though, were some looks of concern, disapproval and fear. A few people actually shuffled into another line. In one instance, a mom, whom I had already heard order her meal ‘for here,’ after taking note of my presence, turned and said to the girl sliding her meal over to her, ‘I’m sorry. Could you make that to go, please?’ before shooting me a distrustful look.

“Perception is everything. While one activity is largely perceived as a sport or fitness activity, the other is seen as a bomb just looking for a place to go off.”

It’s distressing that the responsibly armed often feel like we have to prove ourselves. And while we strive to obey rules, regulations and laws, we are regularly looked at like we’re in the wrong. To this, I suggest perseverance and cool-headedness. Let the naysayers notice us always taking the high road. As Thomas Jefferson said, “Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.”

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