What not to do when welcoming new people to the gun community

(((Greg Camp)))
Nov 8, 2020 · 3 min read
This is not the ATF, image courtesy of Wing-Chi Poon and Wikimedia Commons

YouTuber, Garand Thumb, has acquired nearly a million subscribers by reviewing the latest tacticool firearm to be released by gun makers. The fact that these weapons are legally or financially difficult for ordinary people to obtain is beside the point, given all the attention that the host’s flannel shirts receive. His content is a lot of style sustained by the light dusting of substance that I have come to expect from gun magazines, the goal of which appears to be to convince people that they need whatever is a new packaging for the same old devices.

Very well. The contents have always been labeled on the tin. Take it or leave it. But a recent video moves his content from schmaltz to noxious garbage, an example of what we in the gun community should not do. In a review of Heckler & Koch’s SPK5, the semiautomatic handgun version of their MP5 submachine gun, the host points out modifications required to make said weapon legal for sale to the general public — assuming that buyers have more than $2,000 to spend — and says, “Thank you ATF again for being supergay.”

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — minus the necessary Oxford comma — is the federal agency that supervises the sale and possession of many things that make life amusing and risky. As has been pointed out before, the ATF should be a convenience store, not an organ of government interference in our private lives. Insulting said agency is a part of the repertoire of talking heads on gun channels and among folks at the range. But there is a fundamental problem with the choice Garand Thumb made in this particular criticism, and I have to move to a new paragraph to emphasize it:

Being gay is not wrong, while using “gay” as an insult is.

Do I have to explain this? Apparently I do, since Garand Thumb and several of the commenters to the video do not seem to understand. A person’s sexual orientation tells us exactly nothing about the moral qualities, intellectual abilities, or tactical skills of the person. Sexual behavior among consenting adults is as fraught and complicated and wonderful as human life is generally, and anyone who claims to have figured it all out is a liar or a fool. It can involve a lot of pain, but as long as all participants are of age and freely taking part, it has great potential, and a lot of people have concluded that the risk is worth the effort. And as suspicious as I am of those who declare perfect knowledge on the subject, I am equally unimpressed by anyone who says that the free interactions of others is wrong.

Perhaps the judgmental are jealous. How a gay couple living next to me is a harm to me is beyond my comprehension. They might make me feel bad by not inviting me to a party, and they could play their stereo at a high volume when I am trying to sleep, but their private sexual behavior does me no ill.

Whatever Garand Thumb feels about gay people, he should recognize that a lot of voters regard gun ownership the same way, and as long as he is not firing his weapons at innocent people, he is as harmful as the hypothetical gay couple next door.

This is an essential point for all of us in the gun community to grasp. If we are to secure the particular right that we exercise, we have to protect all rights. And if we want support and even participation from many groups, we are not going to gain that with casual insults.

I recommend that Garand Thumb offer a significant contribution to the Pink Pistols, if they will take his money, and more importantly, I ask him to consider the effect of his words. A gun is a powerful weapon, but language is exponentially greater in its reach, and if we use either to harm innocents, we put that exercise in danger.

The Hoplite Magazine

Guns and gun rights from a leftist perspective

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