Saturday, January 19, is Gun Appreciation Day. Americans are urged to “go to your local gun store, gun range, or gun show” and to show their support for Second Amendment rights. The blog Shall Not Be Questioned, which has long been one of the most influential and thoughtful pro-RKBA blogs, endorses Gun Appreciation Day, but raises some important caveats.
In particular, many people imagine “that by going to the gun show, or by buying guns and some ammunition, they were making a statement. Folks, if this belief becomes widespread, we’re going to lose. Communicating with lawmakers is crucial at a time like this.”
If you want to go to a gun store, and pay $3,000 for an AR-15 (assuming you can find one) that would have cost $900 five weeks ago, go ahead. Or if you want to practice gun safety at your local range, while wearing a pro-rights shirt, that’s fine too.
But neither of these actions is going to have much practical effect in protecting the Second Amendment. Far more valuable would be volunteering to help a local organization hand out flyers at a gun show. These days, the lines are literally hours-long just to get into a gun show, so you’ll find plenty of people waiting in line who will be grateful for something to read.
Alternatively, spend a couple hours writing some short letters to your U.S. Senators, U.S. Representative, Governor, State Senator, and State Representative. A printed postal letter is best, because it demonstrates that you took some time to create it. Chapter 15 of my 1993 book Things You Can Do to Defend Your Gun Rights provides tips on writing letters to elected officials.
For your friends who don’t want to write a postal letter, but who might be willing to send an e-mail, the Ruger website provides easy tools to find your legislators and email them. (An admirable change compared to 1989, when Ruger, like a lot of the American firearms industry, was too timid to speak out against the false claim that semiautomatic rifles are “assault weapons.”)
January 19 is an especially propitious day to become a member of the National Rifle Association or another Second Amendment group.
If you want to engage in firearms commerce, there are alternatives to fighting the crowds at gun stores and gun shows. My favorite place to purchase accessories is MidwayUSA, which has an incredibly large variety of tools and supplies. MidwayUSA is also a very generous contributor to Second Amendment groups, and to conservation.
While political participation is very important, the most important long-term factor in the survival of the Second Amendment is the percentage of the population which understands firearms. The mass confiscations of firearms in Great Britain and Australia, which Howard Dean (among others) touts as the model for the United States, never would have taken place if the general public in those countries had even a minimal familiarity with firearms. So take a newbie shooting. I recommend that you introduce them to a .22, at a outdoor range. Ranges may be less crowded on Jan. 20 than on the 19th.
If all you knew about guns was what you learned from MSNBC, or much of the rest of the national media, then you would imagine that the only time that guns are important are when then are used in terrible crimes. But in truth, guns in America are used every day in America in ways that never attract national media attention: Far over a thousand of times per day (literally) for self-defense. Their presence is so many American homes is the most important reason why burglars attack American homes so much less often then the occupants are present, compared to countries where defensive gun ownership is prevented. They are the last-resort deterrent to genocide, as shown by the fact that every genocide perpetrator in the last century has assiduously disarmed the intended victims first. Besides that, guns are used for target shooting, to put healthy food on the table, and the Pittman-Robertson excise taxes are a prime reason why so much American wildlife is thriving today, having recovered from the dire conditions of the early 20th century.
Appreciate guns on January 19? Definitely. Do so in a way that will help protect the Second Amendment from immediate threats, and will preserve it for the future generations.