Monday, June 23, 2008

An Important Day Even Without Heller!

On the eve of the anticipated Supreme Court decision on D.C. v. Heller, what could perhaps be the victory we have sought for more than four decades, we still have some work to do with elements of our own industry who have apparently failed to understand the lessons of an even more important case, Gun Culture v. Jim Zumbo.

Today the biggest shooting industry summit in years begins in Colorado Springs, hosted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). It may be the most important industry conclave in gun culture history. We are between a potential landmark victory with the High Court matched against the potential election to the Presidency of the most antigun politician in U.S. history.

We are also at a precarious tipping point culturally. The dual national blows of 9/11 and Katrina have demolished the antigunners' prime arguments against firearms, and the antigunners know it. For the first time we are making major strides in the cultural wars on other fronts. CCW is now an accepted part of everyday life, and the recent spate of largely positive stories on open carry tell me that the overall marketplace has moved dramatically in our direction. We are first the first time close to establishing firearms ownership and use as, once again, the norm rather than the exception.

We have achieved these victories not by "staying the course," but by taking the battle to our enemies. We have gotten here not by "playing nice," but by doing what Americans do — standing up for our beliefs and speaking our minds and hearts. We are succeeding because we have stopped watering down our message and trying to pander to the very people who would strip us of our rights.

That is scary stuff indeed!

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.

While we've extolled a united front in the new post-Zumbo universe, there's still a high level of fear without the industry about how we go forward, and we must address that fear.

This is from the morning's SHOOTING WIRE:
Today, that wound appears to be healing- but it wouldn't take much to rip that scab off and get the blood flowing again.

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.
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:

PAGE 235
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.

Action Item 164. Avoid communications imagery that shows people shooting at human silhouettes. Be aware that there is much resistance among the general public to target shooting at human silhouettes, and images showing this will not be as well-received as alternative images (e.g., a person shooting at a standard bull’s eye target with a rifle).

PAGE 224-225
Fear of firearms is an important disincentive to participation in hunting and the shooting sports; this fear cannot be downplayed by professionals when developing recruitment programs. While many Americans show an interest in wanting to shoot, the fear of firearms prevents them from trying the activity, and research shows that, once they try shooting, their fear is often overcome. Just as the bicycle industry would not flourish without the important use of training wheels to alleviate fear and facilitate proficiency, neither will sport shooting flourish without its own “training wheels” in the form of controlled environments and non-lethal beginner firearms.

Action Item 106. Consider that the use of non-lethal firearms will be effective in getting non-shooters to shoot, allowing them to become more comfortable around firearms. After they are comfortable with non-lethal firearms [Emphasis mine...mb], they will “graduate” to lethal firearms. This is the shooting sports’ parallel to the training wheels on bicycles. Fewer bicycles would be sold to children if the bicycle industry did not manufacture and sell training wheels.
I don't have to tell my regular readers how wrong-headed and profoundly incorrect these "action items" are. They are old school the worst way, a distillation of policies that have not only failed us in the past but are in fact the very policies that are responsible for nearly destroying us. "Hide, hide!" "Play nice!" Be something that you're not, and maybe everyone will love you!

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Action items like these are a proven path to failure...and in our case, oblivion.

To their credit, NSSF is already distancing themselves from the "action item" part of the report, which they would have done in the opening remarks tomorrow morning in any case. Both Say Uncle and myself were on the phone late yesterday with NSSF executives, and they were all adamant that the very purpose of this Summit is to separate the wheat from the chaff. I was told that when you hire a research group, you are obligated to take all their recommendations — even the ones you strongly didn't agree with — and present them to the larger body for discussion and approval. I agree that is the ethical thing to do.

Read Bitter Bitch's excellent commentary here:
Actually, I’m more interested because this hits at the great divide between shooting and hunting that I would like to see bridged. The problem is that as long as either side keeps throwing pot shots, we won’t get anywhere. I don’t see that being an efficient use of our resources.

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. At worst, well, I don’t want to assume the worst yet. We’ll find out during tomorrow’s public webcast if it’s a best case scenario and the offending action items are denounced or if it’s not so simple. (I’ll be watching to find out.)
Two more points before I head for Colorado Spring:
1) The blame here lies with sloppy researchers without a iota of understanding of the current state of the gun culture. RM apparently thinks this is 1972 and acted accordingly...and don't give me that happy crap about "focus groups finding what focus groups find..." I went to college a loooong time ago, and part of my final exam in Statistical Analysis in the Mass Media was to create both an "objective survey" and a set of focus groups that would yield outcomes I chose in advance. A dog can do that these days. America has changed, and changed in our direction. We have had no trouble generating mainstream publicity for the Steel Challenge, USPSA, IDPA, Cowboy Action Shooting, even .50 BMG! Handguns! Big scary calibers! Some humanoid targets! Even mainstream cable channels are actively soliciting for shooting shows, and not rifles at X-ring targets, but rather run and gun flash! Whatever NSSF paid these bozos, they're due a refund.

2) There are a lot of us at the Summit who have been on the sharp edge for a long time, and WE WILL NOT BE RUN OVER! We have stood up to the Bradys and the Violence Policy Centers and the lying weasels in the MSM, and we will damn sure stand up to regressive elements in our own industry.
No babies get thrown off the lifeboat! Time to go to Colorado Springs...wish us luck!


Anonymous said...

Godspeed my brother

Aaron Geisler said...

There are many of us who grew up hunting, but now only shoot for sport and competition. I shoot cowboy action, action pistol, BPCR, and trap. Wishing you good luck.

John Richardson said...

When your 21-year old stepdaughter says to you that she would like to learn to shoot and she'd like a PISTOL - in pink, thank you very much - you know the world has changed. She doesn't do camping, she doesn't go hunting, she won't go out without her makeup, but she is a gun-friendly soon-to-be elementary school teacher who likes the idea of shooting as well as protection. Young women like her are the ones we need to capture.

John Richardson said...

As a follow-up to my earlier post, I just saw this courtesy of the Instapundit. The new Miss Tennessee has her concealed carry permit and carries for her safety on the road.

Anonymous said...

According to video google, my posercam videos have had over 60,000 views.

I have not had any complaints about the silhouette targets getting shot at.

Now, if I could just get someone to sponsor them.


Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, one other thing, at the local level I have run into my fair share of Fudds.

These are the guys who I meet on the job who say, "I am tired of the NRA sending me so much junk mail. I love to bowhunt so much, I could care less if whoever came in and took my guns."

Seriously. I have heard guys say that. To my face.

I have also run into a fair number of trap shooters who have this they can have my neighbor's handguns if I get to keep my trap gun mentality.

It's a shame that some of these people are so willing to sell each other out like that.

So it is just not a within the gun industry phenomenon, either.


Petey said...

On Heller: From a few other things I have read today, it sounds like Justice Scalia is writing the majority opinion in this case. That thought has my hope up for a better than expected result.

Godspeed for Colorado. We are all two halves of the same side. We must unite. As you have chronicled here many times MB, the shooting side is often treated as the red-headed stepchild. Those of us (myself included) who participate in both shooting and hunting need to be the builders of the bridge.

be603 said...

Right on MB. Stay the course! ;-)

As in, stay the course of "takin' it to them."

Anonymous said...

At the majority of our gun stores here in the metro Detroit area, not including the large outdoor outfitter chains, the majority of their inventory can best be described as "defensive" arms. The two best shops, that also have their own indoor ranges feature more handguns and long-guns that are descended from current military guns (a. k. a.: "black guns"), than hunting, or target guns. I doubt that the industry at-large even realizes that. The handgun makers and "black gun" makers do though.
Thanks for representing them AND us well.
Life Member

Anonymous said...

Oh Yeah, the indoor ranges that I referenced in my earlier note are of the 25 and 50 yard type, with 7 yard target stops being VERY popular, as are combat sihouette targets sales.
Life Member, again.

Anonymous said...

Every person I have introduced to shooting in the past 5 years has preferred shooting pistols to rifles. It is just a fact. So, I have to agree on the fact that their "study" is hugely flawed.

Anonymous said...

Don't blame the Messengers(NSSF & Summit Participants),this is the perception of the American Public. Instead on pointing fingers, why don't you all go and do something about the image of handgun sports in America. Be part of the solution instead of sitting back and doing nothing. After reading the entire report (and not parts like some) it is a comprehensive study that "if" used in context, will benefit all shooters and close the gap between long guns and short guns. Where are your solutions?