No, I'm not talking about me ....
Caldara: How I went from gun hater to Second Amendment advocate
November 1, 2017
I used to hate guns, even giving money to anti-gun organizations.
Today I am a life member of the National Rife Association.
The tale of my transition from "we need reasonable regulation" to "out of my cold dead hands" is not meant to convert gun control advocates to gun rights supporters, because no one column will ever do that.
And that's my point. No bumper sticker, Facebook post, Tweet or talk show rant will change the mind of someone who feels the way I felt — that it's insane to oppose gun limits. The only way to change someone's anti-gun viewpoint is to slowly, and personally, engage them and take them through the long process.
I saw guns as a symbol for hate, for fear, not that different from a swastika. After all, I was raised in a gun-free home, thinking people support gun control and fearful people fight gun control.
And then something awful happened. My older brother, Paul, did something crazy, dangerous and reckless. This normally rational and thoughtful man bought a gun.
He purchased the weapon of choice of the most violent drug dealers, a .22 rifle. I say this jokingly because I'd find out later this model Ruger 10/22 is what farm boys in Kansas often get on their twelfth birthday. It's a perfect "beginner" gun.
Over the coming months I brought up reasonable objection after objection to argue that what he purchased was a danger and why reasonable restrictions were needed. With the patience of a fisherman, he listened to every fear I had and pointed me to data, research and writings where we could both find answers.
He took me shooting again, this time outdoors. Instead of paper targets we shot tin cans. I learned if you aim a bit toward the bottom of the tin can, you can make them fly.
I still wasn't sold on the whole thing, but slowly my knee-jerk emotional fear gave way to genuine inquisitiveness. I wanted answers. Why would our founders put the Second Amendment right after the one that protected our right to speech and religion? Why would someone want more than one gun? What's the danger in gun registration?
The process lasted nearly two years, a grueling amount of time, but I wasn't going to let go of my "rational" distrust of guns, or the seeming ease of being able to get them, easily. After all, facts have no use in an emotional argument, and it took that long to see the issue without the murky filter I was looking through.
Slowly, facts won.
I purchased my own .22 rifle, and then a .22 pistol, and over the years a revolver, and later a shotgun, and so on, all the way to what the media mislabels as an assault rifle.
Target shooting with my brother brought us years of enjoyment and strengthened our relationship. More importantly, it taught me how to better challenge my own confirmation bias and pre-conceived notions.
Imagine if every gun owner did what my brother did and take just one person who should know better and help them on this long journey. Imagine if some of those people then became journalists or elected officials.
— Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.