Over the last few weeks, and indeed the last 23 years, we’ve seen another wave of negativity about firearms – nothing is new there.
However, we received a little anecdote of interest that was sent to us by one of our members, about a conversation he had with a committee member of his club after Christchurch.
Upon a discussion about the current firearms laws and pointing out the ridiculousness of some of the laws in Australia, the committee member was of the opinion that firearm owners should not get political, as it may draw attention to us and lose us our firearms.
“if we keep quiet and out of the way they’ll let us hold on to them a little longer” was his one of his retorts.
And there is the problem in a nutshell. Pathetic.
You see it often online. Scores of firearm owners with statements such as “it’s never going to happen”, “sad that we’re going to lose it”, “no-one is doing anything about it” etc.
This is basically learned helplessness syndrome with a touch of convict mentality thrown in for good measure. The point is, it’s all toxic learned behaviour and it does nothing for the firearm community.
Unfortunately, a large swathe of the Australian firearm community have become defeatist, browbeaten types who have given up and appear to be playing for time until they lose everything.
That in itself is sad but also quite frankly, pathetic. Sure, there are times to emotionally vent and be realistic but many have confused realism with defeatism (“just being realistic mate”) and often use it as an excuse not to do anything (but still reserve the right to complain).
Talking of realism, different firearm owners want different things – that much is true. Often the term ‘fudd’ is thrown around liberally when it shouldn’t be and this can exacerbate difference.
However, it’s not really about the difference around wants, it’s about changing the more ‘fuddy’ shooters’ view to “I don’t personally want that and it’s not my cup of tea that but some other gun owners may want that and they should have the opportunity to do so if they so wish.”
That is the internal battle, but that’s a discussion for another time.
There’s also a subsection of the firearm community that is often seen saying things like “we need an NRA in Australia.”
What these people are often really saying is “I want another group of people to give up their time, energy and money to solve my problems for me and why aren’t they doing it?”
Again, we’re back at square one. While people can debate the merits of the NRA’s performance in the last few years, the fact remains is that it is made up of a group of people dedicated to the cause and has been largely successful.
At present, firearm lobbying in Australia is a voluntary, thankless task taken on by a few high-energy individuals who give their own time and money to try and better things for the shooting community. Ask Sam Lee though, and apparently we have more money than the NRA and GOA combined.
In short, there’s no Wayne LaPierre or Erich Pratt being paid a lot of money to do it full-time.
These same volunteers seem to wear the lions’ share of criticism from a slew of people who don’t wish to do the work, so you can see why progress can sometimes be slow and in-fighting can take place.
Are there too many firearm organisations? That’s a valid debate to be had, sure, but you can also argue that we’ve never had it so good and we’ve never had so much choice.
Australia writ large has a bad cultural problem with apathy and laziness. This is more colloquially known as the “she’ll be right” attitude. Well, she ain’t right in this country and hasn’t been for a while.
This attitude has gotten extensibly worse in the last few years. You can attribute this to a number of factors, but that’s also a discussion for another time. As it pertains to the shooting community, it’s been this way for a while and 23 years of gaslighting against the Australian firearm community has made it far worse, as some even have a serious case of Stockholm syndrome and embrace the draconian laws forced on them.
We don’t need more social media heroes in echo chambers, they’re a dime a dozen. Social media has it’s benefits, sure, but what’s needed are more people in the real world who are willing to take the risks to deliver what is needed.
The above may seem like harsh words to some, but quite frankly there are some that need to hear it. But as the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.
Sure, you may choose not to get involved politically and that’s fine. Most of us don’t like politics and want to be left alone. Bear in mind your right to complain about the way things are and may be is given less weight, should you make that choice.
Now with the criticisms out of the way, what can you do about it?
There are already a lot of people in the firearm community doing their part for the cause, indeed more than there’s ever been, and we salute you and more power to you guys and girls. LAFO’s have become a lot better than they were and there is still a long way to go (we get things wrong too) but we’re well on the way.
Those who are critical of the performance of firearm organisations and committees need to get involved at the organisation, committee and club level. If you want to change the overall culture (which is what is needed) then you need to help change it at ground level. There are already a lot of people doing good work at this level but they can always do with more help. You don’t have to drop everything and change the world overnight, but a little contribution can go a long way.
Then there’s the direct political side of things. You now have a lot of choice in terms of the firearm owner vote. Liberal Democrats, SFFP, Katter’s Australia Party and Fraser Anning’s Conservative National Party are all very pro-gun and will fight for firearm owners. The major parties are now scared of the firearm owner vote (look at the nothingburger about One Nation and the NRA) and the rise in the political involvement of the shooting vote.
Turning up every three years to mark a piece of paper is frankly not good enough. The real question is, what did you do politically in the time between elections? That’s what wins seats.
However, the #1 most important thing you can do is get more people into shooting and firearm ownership – it’s a numbers game. Firearm ownership is increasing every year in this country and that is a great thing. If every gun owner in this country got two people their firearms licence, we’d triple our numbers overnight – it’s that simple. The rest flows on from there.
We’re in a highly political environment whether we like it or not, but we can be in control if we really want to. We’re now winning the information war, getting vocally and financially involved in elections– it’s the legislative one that is the last frontier. And that can be won.
However, it’s not just the job of the organisations to right the ship, it’s every LAFO’s job.
None of what has been said is really groundbreaking but our current predicament can be changed. It’s just a question of how willing firearm owners in this country are to harden up, roll their sleeves up and change it, because doing nothing and being passive guarantees the outcome for everyone.
Loud and proud, not meek and weak.