Trying out my new Mossberg 930 SPX tactical shotgun on the range.
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I recently checked my handgun for a flight, and the reactions of the airline staff stuck with me. Even though my gun was stripped down, unloaded, and in a padlocked hard case, even though I was bringing it because I had valid safety concerns about the location I was flying into, these women were not only condescending during our entire interaction – they were downright afraid. Frankly, their reaction has stuck around because it is eerily similar to that of many anti-gun legislators I have been around. What prompts this reaction? Inexperience. 

If you have not witnessed this yourself, let me be the first to tell you that many legislators who are staunch gun control advocates respond to the word “gun” with a visceral reaction. Simply the thought of someone owning, let alone dispatching, such a weapon prompts both intense fear and contempt, regardless of context. As someone who spent time working in the Iowa State Legislature, who has been embedded in the political world for years, and who is a gun owner, I can testify that I’ve seen this reaction frequently enough to note it as a mindset, not a one-off event. 

Although there are a few exceptions, this type of reaction is usually caused by someone letting their inexperience fan the flames of their indignation. It comes from people legislating against something they have never touched with their own hands, seen in proper use, or watched be dismantled as the machine it is. They only focus on the end result of a powerful machine used by evil or careless hands. 

If we want better gun legislation, the proposal is pretty simple: Get legislators, whether on the state or federal level, to shooting ranges and gun demonstrations so they can understand what they are legislating. Allow them to see with their own eyes the items they couldn’t previously explain yet jumped to regulate. Let them see that without bullets and a finger on the trigger, a gun is just a hunk of metal – not inherently good or evil. 

Unfortunately, this proposal is better on paper than it is in practice. I remember my anger at watching key Iowa Democrats turn down demonstration offers from gun owners, both across the aisle and within their own party, then turn around and rant about how what they refused to see in action for themselves must be banned. If people choose to keep their eyes firmly closed and cling to their inexperience with both hands when given the opportunity to exchange it for practical knowledge, there’s not a lot left to do for them.

But this is something that gun owners, gun rights supporters, and people who like logical legislation should demand from their legislators. Imagine the outrage that would come if legislators heard that car-related accidents caused thousands of deaths a day and used that knowledge alone to take all cars off the streets without ever driving one or even being a passenger. We expect machine experience to feed into legislative efforts in that case – we should expect it in the case of guns as well. 

Inexperienced legislators with a personal and uninformed vendetta against guns are automatically going to craft bad legislation. They ought to make themselves take every available opportunity for practical experience before making legislative choices. Some may still seek to ban such weapons or regulate them out of the hands of the population at large, but hey – at least they will be able to point to the magazine they’re trying to ban when shown a photo of a gun. That’s a starting point. 

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