Somewhere, away from the volatile politics of 2020 running headlong into 2021, has been the range. And, to paraphrase the “Rifleman’s Creed,” there are many others like it, but this one is mine.
To pick a day, on the first Saturday of the New Year, I pulled into my club’s lower-shotgun range and saw a shotgun I’d know anywhere standing in a gunrack outside a cabin near the skeet and trap ranges. It’s a Beretta over/under that looks like it will fall to pieces on its next round of skeet—a noble death after a long life of competing.
I opened the door and walked into a warm room filled with laughter. Heat waves were rising from a wood stove on the right. To my left, men in boots and flannel sat on the large leather couch and two leather lounge chairs that face a bay window overlooking the shotgun ranges.
“Steve,” I said without even looking as I closed the door behind me.
“You wouldn’t believe it,” he said. “Bob here forgot to change his chokes from the high tower. And now he thinks I didn’t really beat him at skeet in our little, sort-of-friendly, weekly competition. Be our impartial judge. What’s your verdict?”
“I’m hardly impartial,” I responded as I moved to the warm wood stove. “Bob has made me look bad so many times that I actually like seeing him knocked down a peg—even if it is from a technical error.”
“Quite right,” said another. “The error was his.”
Bob, who really doesn’t like to lose, grumbled a little, but had to give in since it was his mistake.
As gun owners, we know that scenes like this are normal. Guns are a big part of American culture—a good gun culture so impossible to ignore that even former President Barack Obama once awkwardly posed for a photo with an over/under shotgun at a range.
… out across this nation, tens of millions of citizens are experiencing positive things at ranges and while shooting on public lands.
The conversation then thumped onto other diversions, but, all that afternoon, there wasn’t a single mention of politics—that would be bad form, my friend. When politics do come up at the club, people speak in hushed tones, not because they might be overheard, but because this brings the negativity of politics into an otherwise positively charged environment.
Instead, here is where we talk about what so often goes politely unsaid. Many anti-Second Amendment officials are poised to take positions in the Biden administration. Meeting them, and hearing a little about their political opinions, makes it clear what they will try in the coming years.
As they do, out across this nation, tens of millions of citizens are experiencing positive things at ranges and while shooting on public lands. America has over 100 million gun owners who own more than 400 million guns. And these aren’t shrinking statistics, but growing numbers.
One reason America still has this big, positive, freedom-loving gun culture is that, 150 years ago, a few citizens formed the National Rifle Association, an association that grew to include many millions of Americans like you and me.
So now, as America stumbles into times that are far too interesting, we are here to steady this great nation, as the United States must forever be the “land of the free, and the home of the brave.”