Final Impressions

Missing the bull’s-eye

Written by James Combs

If you want effective gun laws, quit taking aim at law-abiding gun owners.

Illustration: Josh Clark

Gun owners today can relate to Ralphie Parker, the popular character in the 1983 movie “A Christmas Story” who was subjected to the anti-gun crowd at an early age. When the little boy asked for a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas, his mother, teacher, and a department store Santa predicted the same gloomy fate.

“You’ll shoot your eye out.” Today, the anti-gun rhetoric has been ratcheted up significantly in an attempt to make gun ownership culturally toxic. In recent years, the gun control crowd has shamed and insulted Americans who disagree with their stance on gun control.

After each mass shooting, they respond by saying it’s time for a national conversation about gun laws. Fair enough. But then they make a monumental mistake by going into full attack mode on gun owners and gun organizations. The NRA, they say, is an acronym for “Neanderthal Racist A–holes.” Following the colorful insults, they resort to emotional blackmail, condemning gun owners for “having blood on their hands” and “caring more about guns than their own children.”

Denigrating gun owners has not, nor will it ever, produce progress on common-sense gun laws. If this flawed strategy was the right path to effective gun laws, more legislation would have been enacted many years ago.

The name calling—“you crazy gun nut”—only causes gun enthusiasts to fight back with twice the vigor. Anyone who is wrongfully painted as crazy or dangerous will vehemently become defensive and disagree with your position because, in the case of most gun owners, those accusations simply aren’t true.

What’s also disappointing is how there’s always outrage directed toward gun owners but very little toward the actual shooter. In fact, Nikolas Cruz, the gunman who killed 17 students at Stoneman Douglas High School in February in Parkland, received hundreds of gushing love letters from adoring fans, as well as money for his commissary account. Yeah, let’s glorify a crazed killer and demonize law-abiding gun owners.

Bearing arms is a constitutional right. If you want to infringe on that right because you feel it’s for the greater good of society, then I’d highly recommend being less hostile and more tactful.

A little bit of diplomacy could go a long way in helping gun owners and gun control proponents see eye to eye.

Assuming, of course, nobody has shot theirs out.

About the author

James Combs

Akers Media Group's James Combs has been a staff writer for several local publications since August 2000. He has had the privilege of interviewing some of Lake County’s many fascinating residents—from innovative business owners to heroic war veterans—and bringing their stories to life. A resident of Lake County since 1986, James recently embarked on a journey to lead a healthier lifestyle. He has lost 60 pounds and walks nearly five miles a day. In his spare time, he enjoys target shooting, skeet shooting and watching his beloved Kentucky Wildcats!

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