Dude, You Gotta Get Out More

Much has been made of “The Bubble” lately. Righties say lefties live in a bubble. Flyover country says the coasts are in a bubble. Black people say white people are in a bubble. Poor people say rich people are in a bubble. Newsflash: most of us are in a bubble. It’s human nature. We gravitate towards the familiar. That happens naturally, and anything different takes actual work.

But how do you walk a mile? One step at a time. Go join a group or take a class where you might be considered the oddball. Sit with somebody else at the lunch table for a change. Spend a few minutes watching “that” news channel — you know, the one that nobody with any common sense or love of country would ever watch. Make a conscious effort to do more listening than talking (most of us tend to talk at people rather than talking to them anyway). Oh, and one more thing. Black folks (and uber-liberal white folks too): please stop calling people racist at the drop of a hat. Please, just stop it.

The interwebs have recently been abuzz with screenshots, links, and verbal smack-downs of a certain black firearms instructor who has intimated that the reason he got his NRA teaching creds yanked was because there’s a “double standard” in the firearms world (translation: y’all some racists). No, Sweet Pea, you got your creds yanked because you were pointing guns at people. Among other shenanigans.

Now, are there lots of uninformed or unsafe white NRA instructors out there enjoying their certification without incident? Of course. Hell, my own NRA training counselor was one of them. So, maybe people snitched on you (and didn’t snitch on others) because of a double standard. I have no idea, but I’d at least hear you out on that one. However, your instructor patch wasn’t rescinded because you’re black. Nope. I’m putting my money on something more like the NRA doesn’t want to be associated with an online brush fire of “OMG, look at this goofy dude about to get somebody killed.”

But here’s what I’m really getting at. This guy explained that he must point guns at people; because, as a “SERIOUS SELF DEFENSE” shooter, he will “only train with REAL GUNS (minus the ammunition),” of course. And when folks got wind of this and ratted him out, his counter-punch was to note that “no one says anything to the guy pictured above … by the name of Dave Spaulding, who apparently does the same thing I do (not as clean though).”

Let’s set aside for a moment the passive-aggressive phallus-measuring contest that erupted in that final parenthetical. The bigger point (no pun intended) for present purposes is that Dave Spaulding DID catch it for the now-infamous photo of himself pointing a real gun at a student. He did! Regardless of whether you think Firearm Safety Rule #2 applies to unloaded guns or not, the claim that “no one said anything” to Dave Spaulding belongs in File 13 somewhere between unicorns and the tooth fairy.

I personally know at least two real, live human beings who got booted from Spaulding’s Facebook page precisely for challenging him on that photo (or for being total d*cks in the process, not sure which). In fact, as I recall, there was a huge fall-out, and lots of folks got seriously butt-hurt over the whole ordeal. I managed to avoid the line of fire, mainly because I decline to trade wits with the likes of a Dave Spaulding (whose horse-choking resume was clearly unknown to our formerly-NRA-credentialed friend). But I did bear witness to the enlightening wealth of cyber-debates that photo sparked, many of which got down pretty deep in the weeds on the empirical pros and cons of muzzling students. I can’t imagine how anyone with a genuine, objective interest in the topic could have missed it.

Anyway, this wasn’t meant to rekindle the muzzle-or-don’t-muzzle flames. Instead, my bottom line is this: dude, don’t scream so loudly that you can’t hear. Peek outside your circle every once in a while. Ask questions. At the very least, consult the almighty Google before spouting off easily-fact-checked whoppers. If you’re going to call an entire industry racist, at least back it up with solid data.

The R-word is powerful. We shouldn’t be firing it off willy-nilly. This is absolutely crucial, not because racism is extinct, but precisely because it still exists. The world has more than enough actual, flesh-and-blood racists to fret over. We don’t need to waste ammo (figuratively speaking, of course) on colleagues — or even competitors — who simply dare to call out our mistakes and happen to do so across racial lines. We all know what happened to the boy who cried wolf.

I’m all about black firearms instructors. I wish there were more of us. So hey, by all means, keep it up. Step up and encourage others, be vocal and visible, help bring more black folks into the 2A community, and do so both ably and humbly. But don’t get too comfortable sitting in the air-tight black people corner. Echo chambers aren’t unique to a single race or political group, and they are just as crippling to any one as to any other. Get out and talk to folks of all stripes, even when it’s uncomfortable. And don’t scream racism every time you hit a bump in the road. That ain’t helpful.