Over the years, the gun culture in the United States has taken it on the chin. Long we have been the target of left-leaning politicians and media outlets with an agenda, Hollywood movies, and overly critical television shows that use the stereotypical clich of a crazed gunman repeatedly to make a dollar. Let's look at how this has changed recently.
Hip Gun Owners
In the past twenty years, there has been a shift in the gun owner's community towards a more modern and professional gun owner. When I first started hunting in the 1970s and 80s, the most common firearm was a lever action .30-.30 for deer and a pump 12-guage for everything else. If you wanted to plink or shoot small game, then a bolt action .22 was the ticket. There were no hunter's education classes, very few firearms classes, nor were there very many ranges that we would consider safe today. For personal protection it was a 1911 or a .38, typically left in the car or nightstand 'just in case'.
(Photo by Armed America, Kyle Cassidy)
Today the AR platform is the modern sporting rifle, pumps are still popular but are losing ground to lighter and faster semi-autos, and everyone under 50 has a Hunter's Ed card. For licensed CCW (which by and large was a bigfoot twenty years ago), an entire market of firearms from every manufacturer is driven to continually introduce better, smaller, and more efficient firearms to be sold with lasers, leather, and grips to match any desire. The modern day buyers of these read dozens of reviews, forums, blogs, and other online and print publications that the gun magazines of old (both of them) couldn't imagine. Training is not just for the military and police anymore. Gun ranges are state of the art.
Gone are the Barney Fife and Elmer Fudd of old. They have today been replaced by the likes of Rob Pincus, Clint Smith, and Chris Costa.
The buzzword for those seeking to be educated and self-reliant in times of both man-made and natural disasters has become preparedness, with individuals associating with this movement self-identifying as Preppers. Long term readers of Mother Earth News, The Prepper Website and APN also communicate and share information through such sites as the Prepper Broadcasting Network and others. These groups are ardent readers of James Wesley Rawles and while they take his books with a grain of literary salt, know that a lot of what he writes is closer to truth than fiction. The Prepper movement is closely associated with the modern gun culture of this country.
New Militia Groups
Militia groups, long labeled as the boogeyman of the pro-2nd Amendment movement vanished after the Oklahoma City bombings. They are now making a comeback as a web savvy, diverse, and modern reincarnation. A recent article in the Sarasota, Florida based Herald Tribune spends time with a local militia group in the Sunshine State and had some interesting things to say about the organization, which included, "African-American, Hispanic, Jewish and lesbian members, as well as college students. Members also have diverse political views. While most are conservative, two described their politics as far left. What unites them is a distrust of government and a feeling they must prepare because something bad is about to happen in America." The organization meets regularly and is an enlarged neighborhood watch that advocates prepping.
(Photo by Armed America, Kyle Cassidy)
Left leaning anti-second amendment supporters like the Southern Poverty Law Center has been beating the drum that a second wave of national civilian militia groups are here (with the first wave being the 1990-98 Michigan Militia movement and others). They list and identify 1274 anti-government "Patriot" groups that were active in 2011. Of these groups, a further 334 they classify as "militias'. However, on closer look, almost a third of these groups include local chapters of such purely political organizations as the John Birch Society, the Alarm and Muster Society, the Oath Keepers, We Are Change, We the People, and others that have never been advocates of violent government change. Others are very much anti-militia in nature regardless of what the SPLC says. For example, the Mississippi Preparedness Chapter, which is listed no less than six times on their list of extremist groups, focuses primarily on long-term food storage techniques and emergency communication call trees.
This type of alarmism by the left is disheartening. However, those in the modern gun culture are bigger than that, and know when to keep their head down and their eyes open. We are the responsible law abiding glue that keeps this country on track. We are America, even if we don't get the recognition.