Gun Owners Are Mainstream, Not Extreme

by Drew Beatty

To listen to the nightly news, you might think that gun owners are the bad guys, as the media tells only stories of criminals and mass-murderers. The media point to the horrible tragedies of Newtown, Columbine, and Aurora, with their 24/7 endless media coverage and insist that these predators, these criminals, are the standard. They are wrong, and they know it.

The truth is that millions of American gun owners carry a gun — many of them carry daily. And all of those gun owners have guns in their homes. They are the mainstream standard of gun ownership in America. Criminals are the aberration — they are extreme. We are mainstream.

In fact, according to the Crime Prevention Research Center, concealed-carry permit holders are the most law-abiding demographic of U.S. Citizens.

Every day I load, unload, clean, store, carry, holster and un-holster firearms around people I love — and I have done so for years. I am mainstream. I am the standard for gun ownership. I don't live in a video game fantasy-world; I carry to protect my family and myself.

You may have heard that canard before, "If we let them carry guns, it will be like the wild west. They will be shooting each other over parking spaces." I've never heard of this actually happening. Compared to the general population, lawful, responsible gun owners almost never commit violent crimes of any kind. Some try to cause panic with the idea, trying desperately to make this the model of the mainstream firearms owner.

The law-abiding think, "If someone wants the parking space bad enough to fight over it, take it. It doesn't mean that much to us. Parking spaces are all the same; asphalt, lines, etc., and there are hundreds and hundreds of them." Mature responsible gun owners are adults, and they understand this. They understand that life is worth far more than a parking space. This is a mainstream idea, and the politicians who flap their arms and cite otherwise to cause panic and fear are the extremists. Law-abiding gun owners are mainstream.

There are millions of concealed carry holders. Around 13 million by some accounts. That's one permit to carry a concealed firearm for every 20 adults. When I go out in public I like knowing that others like me are armed. I look for them. Sometimes I can tell that they are carrying, sometimes I can't. They are mainstream too. They are like you and me and it gives me comfort to know that there are 13 million more out there.

At meetings for my local firearms' rights group, I've been surrounded by 30 or more people who are likely armed. I've never been afraid of them, and I'm sure they aren't afraid of me — because there is nothing to fear from the lawfully-armed citizen. These citizens aren't the extremists portrayed in the media. They are mainstream lawful American citizens who have chosen to carry firearms for self-defense.

When target shooting with friends, we often go through hundreds of rounds at a time. Nobody gets hurt because we respect the weapons, safety, and each other. We are the mainstream. We know that firearms are not toys. They are tools that can be dangerous, but there are rules in place that, when respected and followed, make them less dangerous. Just like cars, kitchen knives, and lawn mowers. I adhere to these rules because I am a law-abiding gun owner. I am mainstream.

Next time a politician or member of the media tells you that you are the problem, that you are one road rage incident away from the next "mass" shooting, let them know that you are the standard. You are a mainstream American gun owner. And you deserve nothing less than their full respect.

Drew Beatty is a 50 year old husband and father, and a lifetime resident of the great state of Colorado. He is an NRA Life-Member, and a long-time firearms enthusiast, as well as a strong advocate for The Second Amendment.