Yesterday I toured the site for the proposed $25 million High Plains Tactical Center outside of Denver. Wow! Ten thousand acres of wooded, rolling hills and spectacular views, with more than 3000 acres devoted to what amounts to a Jurassiac Park for shooters, After last week at the $14 million world-class U.S. Shooting Academy in Tulsa, I have to call big-dollar shooting facilities an interesting and important national trend, essentially recognizing the recreational aspects of the gun culture as a wildly underserved market.
It also spits in the face of the antigunners, who have had their programs and their principles — if you can call that sad, sordid collection of mistruths, misinformation, spin and outright lies principles — increasingly rejected. While I like the trend, it still doesn't do anything to stem the loss of shooting areas around the country, although I am hoping for something of a "trickle-down" effect. The rationale for not building new, expanding old or sometimes even maintaining existing shooting areas has been essentially a reflection of antigun disinformation.
We are not a small, declining market...in fact, nothing could be farther from the truth. The shooting sports and the self-defense market is vibrant, growing and full of potential. The building of such facilities as the U.S. Shooting Academy and. hopefully, the High Plains Tactical Center, along with other datapoints such as the multimillion dollar refurbishing of GUNSITE in recent years and the explosive growth of training as a major industry, signify that mainstream culture is moving closer to our core beliefs; that, hopefully, we are moving away from the seering indictments in the classic 1993 essay A Nation of Cowards:
Gun control is a moral crusade against a benighted, barbaric citizenry. This is demonstrated not only by the ineffectualness of gun control in preventing crime, and by the fact that it focuses on restricting the behavior of the law-abiding rather than apprehending and punishing the guilty, but also by the execration that gun control proponents heap on gun owners and their evil instrumentality, the NRA. Gun owners are routinely portrayed as uneducated, paranoid rednecks fascinated by and prone to violence, i.e., exactly the type of person who opposes the liberal agenda and whose moral and social "re-education" is the object of liberal social policies. Typical of such bigotry is New York Gov. Mario Cuomo's famous characterization of gun-owners as "hunters who drink beer, don't vote, and lie to their wives about where they were all weekend." Similar vituperation is rained upon the NRA, characterized by Sen. Edward Kennedy as the "pusher's best friend," lampooned in political cartoons as standing for the right of children to carry firearms to school and, in general, portrayed as standing for an individual's God-given right to blow people away at will.
The stereotype is, of course, false. As criminologist and constitutional lawyer Don B. Kates, Jr. and former HCI contributor Dr. Patricia Harris have pointed out, "[s]tudies consistently show that, on the average, gun owners are better educated and have more prestigious jobs than non-owners.... Later studies show that gun owners are less likely than non-owners to approve of police brutality, violence against dissenters, etc."