Alternately titled “Don’t Eat Your Own”.
The other night, I mentioned that I’d seen a news report on gun control on the local news, and that the reporter said that the ownership of one of my local ranges was in favor of universal background checks. A few local people almost immediately asked me if I’d seen it and what I thought of it. It was pretty much an instant “WTF?” moment via the magic of social networking. Anyway, I took my tired, already in a bad mood self to the webpage of OpenRange Sports and sent off rather abrupt, if not downright rude, demand for clarification. The next morning the owner of OpenRange contacted me and clarified his position.
His position pretty much boils down to an objection that he, as a business owner, has to put his customers through a background check when he sells a firearm, but a private seller does not. That is a much more nuanced response than the “The owner of this successful gun range in Louisville supports universal background checks.”.* It’s not as far as I go, which is to oppose any new restrictions on gun ownership, but it’s not outright support of the President, either. Chalk one more example up for “Be careful of what you say to the press, and be wary of what they say to you.”
I emailed back and forth with Mr. Laws, and at first, it was very evident that he was very wary of me as a blogger. It seems that when he first opened his business, which was the first firing range on that side of Louisville in at least as long as I’ve lived here, he took a lot of heat from some people on-line over his facility and the fees he charges, and that colored his initial response to my, admittedly, less than friendly request for clarification. Eventually, we were able to agree that, even though we differ on this issue, we are both doing what we can to further the cause of gun rights. Mr. Laws has put up his life savings and years of his life putting together a good place to shoot, made it accommodating to families and women, and puts on some of the best basic-skills training I’ve seen. I have taken another path, part of which is my bloviations here, but we are both working toward the same goal.
There’s a lesson here for everyone: We should not demand orthodoxy from our own side, and we should be at least as courteous to our own side as we try to be with the other. We are going to disagree on details; there’s no way around that when you put together a group that believes in individual liberty as much as we do. We are all part of the same movement, but we are going to work toward our goals in different ways, and that’s a good, healthy thing. Mr. Laws and other entrepreneurs are living a dream that a lot of us have, but he is also bearing the responsibilities and risks that come with it. A lot of us would love to go to a shooting range and gun store every morning to earn our daily bread, and in so doing bring new shooters to the sport and put a good public face on our side, but are we ready to put up with the regulation, cost, and trouble it takes to do that?
We have to exercise the same respect and restraint our best ambassadors use when they are talking to the neutrals and lukewarm anti’s when we speak with the people on our side who differ with us in small ways. Asking for everyone on our side to get into lockstep runs counter to what I mean when I say that gun rights are about rights. Someone who has the right to side with us and do good work toward our common goal also has the right to believe differently from us. When we turn on one of our own, we do ourselves a disservice. We must take care to not give our anger and frustration with the current situation a vent when we believe someone on our side differs with us. We’re better than that, and we must always remember that we gain strength from everyone’s work, not just those who march to our tune.
Disclaimer – I have no connection to OpenRange Sports other than being a member of the range and a customer.
*I tried to find the video or text story from the TV news the other night, but it doesn’t appear to be on their website. If I find it, I’ll update this with the video or a link to the article.