It’s hard to look at current events and not conclude that the United States of America appears to be in a heap of trouble. Though this column was written in September, I have no doubt that the coronavirus scourge is still raging. And dividing us. Republicans versus Democrats. Liberals versus conservatives. Big government versus little government. The loud versus the quiet. Race, religion, creed, color, gender, sexual preference… We seem to have figured out more ways to divide ourselves and create a tension of opposition. And, unfortunately, we are now seeing that the firearms community is engulfed in a simmering cauldron to see just who can or cannot be “worthy” to be featured as a fair representative.
Really. I’ve been having an ongoing conversation with my friend, Chris Cheng. Chris is The History Channel’s “Top Shot” season four champion. Chris is a great shot and has been trying to come to terms with his joy of shooting machine guns. He speaks English and Spanish. His mother is both Japanese and Cuban. His father is a Chinese American. He’s a foodie and a techie. He’s also gay and happily married. Chris represents everything that is good about America. So, I turned to him when the “gun issue” got off the rails after his feature on the cover of a national magazine. People who are different are the fastest growing segment of new firearm purchasers. Ever. So why is it “bad” for someone who is different to champion the cause of firearms ownership. There are vocal folks who are not pleased with Chris’ celebrity. To be sure, pretty much every gun advocate is solidly behind the concept of everyone having the inalienable right to defend themselves with a firearm. The concept of taking personal responsibility for one’s safety resonates with everyone singing from the same hymnal. It’s just that Chris is different. And that seems to be rubbing some folks the wrong way.
Our conversation has stretched over months. Right now, pretty much everyone is talking and acting in terms of their differences. Instead of becoming united, we are even more divided. Back in August I wrote, “We have to get to the point where our differences are no longer the point of the sword. We have to get to the point where we are us and not them. The rules are for everyone. Respect is for everyone. Decency is for everyone. And hate/disdain for anyone, simply because of their difference(s) is simply not acceptable. It’s okay to have animus toward someone for what they do. I can feel anger and rage at the person who commits murders on a crowded street. I cannot feel that same anger and rage because of the differences that person may possess. In other words, it’s okay to hate the murderer. It’s not okay to hate the murderer because of him/her being black, Asian, overweight, tatt’ed, Jewish, etc. … The whole Black Lives Matter/All Lives Matter thing could have covered this conversation. Instead, I suspect it made matters worse. We just cannot get to we if all we are focusing on is the difference. Black people have been screwed over. So have lots of different non-whites. And of the whites, so many of them have been screwed over because of differences. Screwed over because of sexual preference, weight, appearance, religion, and a host of other differences. We get to “we” when we recognize that equality is equal. It must apply to everyone, or the effort is but a sham.”
Chris agreed on all the points. And we both agreed that it’s painful to accept there are still far too may who worry about the differences. We are a long way from truly being we. So, we (the two of us) work on being inclusive and accessible. We both believe that our freedoms, our rights, and opportunities should be equally available to everyone. Everyone should have the same opportunities as everyone else. Especially when it comes to firearms and the ability to defend themselves.
The NFATCA has been making more NFA opportunities for more people, more often, on a level playing field. That’s a big deal. We don’t care what you look like or sound like. We only care that you value the same freedom and opportunity that we do. We have accomplished quite a bit! If you would like to assist us with this important work, please consider joining or renewing today.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V25N10 (December 2021)|