For about twenty years now I’ve been writing about guns professionally, that is, someone has paid me to do it. I’ve written on all manner of firearms from inline muzzle-loaders to precision bolt-action rifles to squad-automatic weapons. Although I’ve never tried to be controversial, regardless, when you are talking about firearms there will always be someone who disagrees with you.
I’m experienced enough to gauge the “controversy level” when I’m working on a piece. Anytime you introduce a new topic about hardware or question the status quo people get their hackles up and the letters to the editor pour in. With the advent of the “blog”, the poisoned pen has become the “poisoned keyboard”. That’s part of doing business and even men in their thirties living in their mom’s basement are entitled to their opinions. Despite all this I am still dumbfounded when a simple article, of which the topic is non-threatening or plain common sense, stirs up a push back.
Case in point: with the huge numbers of first time gun buyers these last few years, I wrote a very simple piece addressing what I called the “First Gun Phenomenon”. In the article I offered some basic advice for “non-gun” folks who might be looking to purchase their first gun. As non-gun people don’t as a rule read gun magazines or gun blogs, I tried to branch out and offer the article via a more universal arena.
My business partner suggested that I put the article out through the various online free article sites. “Try EzineArticles, they’re the largest.” He said. EzineArticles claims to have 450,000 plus “expert” authors who have submitted myriad articles about subjects as varied as business, real estate, home repair and gay/lesbian lifestyles to name a few.
After filling out the appropriate forms to be considered for submissions, I sent in my First Gun piece. An auto-responder produced an email thanking me for my submission and informing me that the EzineArticle editorial staff would review it within a week. After seven or eight days I received an email from them telling me my article had been rejected as it “promoted a product” and that was prohibited. I had attached the Student of the Gun weblink in the author description. I surmised that my website address was the issue. Their email suggested that I edit the article and resubmit it and that is what I did.
In the mean time I also submitted an article suggesting that anyone who owns a firearm for personal defense should also learn traumatic first aid to save a life, not just take one. After another two weeks I finally received the naked truth from EzineArticles, they are prejudiced against firearms. The polite dismissal is listed below:
Thank you for your email. Your articles were placed in problem status as we are not able to accept content on guns unless it’s in the context of hunting. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance at this time.
There you have it, hot on the heels of the Google “no gun ads” decision we have more naked prejudice against legal, commonplace items. Apparently topics such as choosing a first gun and life-saving first aid training are too controversial for EzineArticles. Provided below is the piece that stirred up this reaction.
First Gun Phenomenon
I suppose you could say that I’ve been a member of the gun culture my entire life. When I was in elementary school all I ever wanted to do was be outside “playing Army” with my toy guns. At age eleven I was introduced to a Daisy BB gun by my maternal grandfather and the die was cast.
That’s how it’s almost always been. A father, uncle, or grandfather introduces a young person to firearms and they either get the bug or they don’t. The United States has had a “gun culture” a lot longer than I’ve been alive, folks who passed their love of firearms down to their family members.
As an industry, Firearms and Ammunition manufacturers have gotten very good at marketing to the choir. They’ve essentially been servicing the same type of customers for the last hundred years. We know how to market to each other, but what about the new or first time gun buyers?
First Time Gun Buyers
After every crisis; riot, hurricane, earthquake, terrorist attack, etc. we see a spike in gun sales. These spikes normally abate quickly and it’s back to business as usual. That circumstance, however, has changed. Today, gun sales that were once considered a kind of “spike” have become an undeniable trend.
Since the end of the year 2008 the numbers of first time gun buyers, particularly in the handgun market, have risen dramatically. Thousands upon thousands of men and women are purchasing or considering purchasing their first gun. The sales figures from both Ruger and Smith&Wesson will bear me out on this.
First time gun buyers aren’t necessarily “gun people” or a part of the traditional gun culture. They are men and women from all walks of life who have come to the personal decision that now is a good time to own a firearm. These folks are on the outside of the gun tent peeking in.
Being a first time gun buyer is tough. Mention in public that you are considering purchasing a gun and you are hit from both sides. On one side you have the pop culture pacifist trying to talk you out of such a vile and dangerous decision. On the other side you have the well-meaning, but often abrasive, “gun guy” who bombards you with stories of his favorite blaster.
Money for Training
If I were to give direct advice to a first time gun buyer, I’d tell them to save some money for training. Rather than spend $750 on a pistol with nothing left over, they’re better served with a $400 pistol and $350 for practice ammunition and training.
Far too often, Americans will try to buy their way around training. It can’t be done. A $1000 pistol in the hands of an untrained shooter is no different than a $500 pistol in the same hands. No amount of custom accessories will make up for poor gun handling skills.
When it comes time to secure training, do your research. Check around and ask folks who have actually taken the courses, not just read about them. The more training and experience you receive the better able you will be to make the right decisions. Keep in mind that some of the most worthwhile training might require travel if there’s not a school nearby. Make it an adventure. Think of the time and monetary commitment as an investment in yourself.
Far too many Americans take pleasure in assuming the status of “oppressed” or “discriminated”. We’ve all seen the bumper-stickers advising us to “Fight Prejudice” or “End Discrimination Now”. When do we, the peaceful, hard-working, American gun owners get our own bumper-stickers or T-shirts?
According to “JusttheFacts” website, in 2009 there were an estimated 80 million gun owners in the United States. That number works out to be more than 25 percent of the entire population of the country. When faced with irrational prejudice and discrimination from the Internet elitists, I’d say that puts the American gun owner in the running for the most discriminated against class in the country.
Thank goodness that we no longer have to rely on a closed-minded media to share information with each other. It is a shame though that knee-jerk “guns are bad” online elitists are censoring material that could legitimately help a person save their life or that of someone else.
Written content © 2012 Paul G. Markel