There's been a fair amount of electronic ink spilled over what's been termed the Gun Culture 2.0, who are the new-to-the-market shooters, especially the young ones, that are also embracing shooting and firearms. These are the "hipper" customers with tattoos and piercings, with an alternative lifestyle vibe to their lives. These are probably also some of the same folks that are driving the "paint in day glow lime green and call it Zombie" craze, too. Since one person appeared to ask me what I thought about this movement, here's my opinion.
There's a ton of different angles to the gun culture: hunting, competitive shooting in it's eleventy billion different games with every type of firearm, personal defense, "prepping", plinking, zombie hunting, and perhaps many more that I've never even heard of. Somewhere there's a gun game that a handful of people are having the time of their life playing, and other people who think they're nuts for being into it.
The gun culture 2.0 people are often portrayed as those with full sleeves, gauges, and lots of other body mods. Phil Labonte, a three gun competitor (who seems to shoot pretty dang well) has a day job singing in the metalcore band "All That Remains". AAC, one of the best suppressor makers on the planet, was way out in front of this movement, having their welder Rachel (now in the marketing and advertising dept. as I understand it) in many of their ads. Rachel is what most would call extensively tattooed and her look is usually somewhere between a 40-50's speed shop vibe and a pin up girl. I haven't met her yet, but from what I've heard, she's really cool. Hoping to change that sometime soon; if I can get a minute out of the booth at SHOT I'd like to make that happen.
Hey, Haj, quit boring us and get on with your opinion on the matter! OK, I hear ya. I'll get on with it.
First, tattoos have become pretty mainstream. I don't have one yet, but I'm one of the few people I know of late that doesn't. That'll happen when the population you work with is primarily military. I'm down with tats; the reason I don't have one is simply because I haven't found anything I want to keep forever. They're just not that uncommon and counter-culture anymore. I quit making impressions based on tats a LONG time ago. A lot of America has as well.
I haven't exactly been quiet that what's collectively been called "zombie marketing" is a trend that I find incredibly stupid. There is, however, no doubt that it's a big trend and its driving a LOT of purchases. If people wanna buy that stuff, then by all means, have at it. My employer won't be offering it, but that's simply because that's not what we do. That I support people buying what they want to buy should not be confused with thinking its not dumb.
Having more gun owners is generally a good thing. With the explosion of the availability of CCW permits, there are lots of new customers and enthusiasts that weren't part of the market before. People have apparently gotten to the point where they realize that depending on the State to defend them is bad policy, so they're doing a little something about it. And through that, people are finding that guns and shooting are cool, and they like it a lot, so they're shooting recreationally and collecting guns because they like guns. All that is a good thing.
Where things become of concern to me are in a couple areas: first, there's more to having and carrying a gun than just taking the class that goes over the laws involved and passing an accuracy test that's pretty pathetic in most cases. Second, getting into this segment of activity comes with political implications. There are plenty of politicians that got elected because of, or have a passion for, taking guns away from lawful owners.
Being a responsible gun owner, no matter what type of gun you own, requires being proficient in it's use. America has been called a country of riflemen. Trust me, we're not. We're not born with the ability to shoot, regardless of what the stories you hear are. If you don't practice, you will suck. Additionally, you will not become Audie Murphy when the balloon goes up, you will rise only to the level of training that you've mastered. Read that last sentence again. Not the level of your training, the level of training that you've MASTERED.
How does one solve that? It ain't by "having your buddy that's had a gun forever teaching you how to shoot". What I'm talking about is professional training, from quality trainers. How to find them takes some research, but the info is all out there. Here's one quick way to filter: avoid controversy. There's a ton of recently retired dudes who've been fighting for more than a decade that can teach it to you. When you come across something that looks promising, do your due diligence and check it out, and thoroughly. You aren't doing me any good by having a gun and not being trained nor going months between practicing. You're as likely to shoot me as the guy you intend to. Be professional about it; the criminals out there are criminals for a living. You need to be able to beat them, and fighting fair is for fools.
New shooters and gun owners have GOT to get involved politically. Join the NRA, join other groups that fight for our collective Second Amendment rights, and all the others while we're at it. Call your representatives and tell them how you want them to vote. Even if you "know" how they'll vote, reinforce that with a call to their office. They work for us; get them working for us if they're not already. Be the boss. Politics are a numbers game, and we've got to leave no doubt that if they're going to vote against our wishes, they won't stay in office. YOU MUST GET INVOLVED IN DEFENDING YOUR RIGHTS!
I'm all about bringing new blood into the the gun culture, and I don't care what it is you're into; I support you in it, even if it's that retarded green zombie stuff. Additionally, I support and implore you stretching your horizons. If you're a hunter or some kind of rifle competitor, try competitive shooting with a pistol. Try USPSA, IDPA, bullseye, fast draw...whatever floats your boat. How will you know if you're into it unless you try it? The main reason I'm not into SASS cowboy action shooting is that I simply don't have the money to invest in the guns to do it.