Alright, pay attention. This one is important.
One of the epic battles we gun rights people face that is far more damaging than anything The Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Ownership can ever do is the fighting amongst ourselves. You’ve heard it before. We call hit hunters v. shooters; fudds v. gun nuts; or, as Bob Ricker says, self-defense whackos v. sportsmen. We all seemed to unite after the Jim Zumbo incident. After all, the industry got it pretty quickly. And hats off to them for that.
But this divide can quickly come back to haunt us. And this weekend, that could have happened. Michael Bane:
These items Jim references are here, buried deep in the back of the omnibus “The Future of Hunting and the Shooting Sports,” prepared by NSSF and Response Management, produced under a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:
Public acceptance of rifles and shotguns is greater than acceptance of handguns, the latter having some negative connotations for some individuals in American society.
Action Item 163. Efforts to promote acceptance of shooting sports should focus on rifles and shotguns.
Now, if you wanna know what keeps a gun blogger up late at night, this is it. This report marginalizes the shooter/handgunner demographic by that rather poorly thought out action item. As I’ve noted before, hunting is on the decline but gun sales are up. People are buying defensive weapons (handguns and evil black rifles, specifically).
And, frankly, the math supports my contention. Check out bitter’s lengthy piece on fear and the shooting sports.
And this fear of handguns thing is grossly overstated. In fact, there is quite often positive coverage of the shooting sports in the press (see here, here and here for very recent and real examples). When educated, folks in the press can highlight these sports and do so positively. Industry should embrace GSSF, SASS, IDPA and USPSA and promote them.
Being the shooter type, that really concerned me that an industry study would conclude that marginalizing the fastest growing demographic was a possible action item. This mentality could quickly get the Zumbo juices flowing again pit us against our allies. Jim Shepherd agrees:
Shooters – especially those who primarily shoot handguns feel they’ve been consistently ignored. So too, I’m hearing, are some of the manufacturers who see their dollars going into a pot where they don’t feel they’re getting equitable shares.
So, there’s an undercurrent of tension that most of those in attendance will do everything possible to either downplay or minimize.
But the stage is set- and the Survey itself has contributed to the tension with its long litany of suggested action items.
Bottom line, if the survey of “recruitment and retention strategies” is endorsed or adopted as written, the damage will be certain. It will also be obvious very quickly, due to the fact that the “blogosphere” is already chattering about the report.
In short, the natives are restless. They’re not revolting -yet, but they’re getting tired of the status quo.
Indeed. And Bane notes:
The L’affaire du Zumbo sent a message to the industry that the tail the huge part of the culture involved in sports shooting and self-defense issues was now officially wagging the dog the hunting side of the industry. That’s something we in the tail have known for a long time…we buy the lion’s share of the guns and ammo, pay the lion’s share of the federal excise tax and face the lion’s share of the heat from our enemies.
Bitter notes: So did someone throw a pot shot? I have to say, I think they did. At best, it was careless and a result of internal biases.
So, after I got all this info this weekend, I was a bit concerned. I decided to go straight to the source. I emailed someone at NSSF and the replied pretty quickly that they wanted me to call them. So, I did. NSSF’s Rep stated that the they do not endorse these action items. That the firm that did the study (Responsive Management) generated 196 action items. Obviously, some of them are unacceptable. The concern among some folks is that NSSF put their name on it. And NSSF was clear to me that they did not endorse these action items and that one of the goals of this week’s summit was to go through these list of action items and formulate a plan.
And I’m with Bitter on this one and hope that tomorrow’s session includes a very thorough condemnation of this line item.