I owe you guys a post recounting my somewhat epic encounter with Congressman Steve Cohen while in our nation’s capital back in June with the DC Project. But first… a little anecdote from last weekend’s Oklahoma classes.
Aqil and I taught Basic Pistol on Friday and Basic Pistol Instructor on Saturday and Sunday at the OKC Gun Club. It was a great class and everything went really well. Great big shout-out to the awesome folks who joined us for Basic Pistol (that one sold out, BTW) and the handful who stayed for the instructor class. It was my first time having cowboy action shooters in my class! The more I teach, the more I realize just how far the gun world expands beyond self-defense applications.
Anywho… One of the things we stress in our instructor class is the importance of respecting ALL law-abiding folks who invest their time, money, and energy in firearms training. As an instructor, that means learning how to check all your political and social leanings, preferences, and biases at the door. While the NRA curriculum does touch on this as a side note, Aqil and I really do try to hammer it home, because in our humble opinions it’s important AF.
We had one person in the instructor class who kept making little quips that were politically charged. Nothing outrageous. Just a little jab here and a little joke there — all at the expense of “democrats” and “liberals.” It was clear that he was very comfortable slamming “The Left,” and he had taken the liberty of assuming everyone in the room would share his disdain. The first time I heard a slick remark, I let it go, because it was only meant for his buddy sitting next to him and wasn’t broadcast to the whole class. The second time, he belted out some nasty comment about democrats, loud enough for all to “enjoy.” At that point, I interjected something along the lines of “that’s not appropriate — no political jokes in our classes,” or some such.
No response. I’m honestly not even sure if he heard me. I think there might have been one more wisecrack about liberals, so finally, once we got to the segment on respecting your students, I made a point to be extra heavy-handed with my “quit assuming all gun people share your politics” speech. While we didn’t call the dude out, I doubt there was much confusion as to why we were so emphatic about it. It sparked a discussion about the goal of teaching basic firearms classes, how easily we might alienate people (intentionally or not), and why it’s our duty to avoid doing so. Aqil and I were pleasantly surprised at the reception from most of the room. A few even spoke up to echo what we were arguing. Lots of receptive gazes and affirming head-nods. Yay!
Bottom line: You have a right to your own opinions on politics, social stuff, race, gender, religion, or [insert demographic of choice]. We’re not telling you your opinions are wrong. By all means, hang onto them as long as you have objective evidence to back them up. But don’t bring that sh*t into a firearms training classroom. As long as you’re law-abiding, your Second Amendment rights have nothing whatsoever to do with your voting record or your sleeping partner or your prayer book. You never know who will be sitting in your class or what their motivations are. The last thing you want to do is run them off with fruitless insults that are wholly unrelated to firearm safety or operation. The sooner we get that through the firearms community’s thick skull, the more secure our Second Amendment freedoms will be.
Remember that buddy who had the pleasure of being our jokester’s initial private audience? Jokester and his Buddy were obviously longtime friends. They sat together throughout the class and ribbed each other the whole time. Well, on the very next break after our little discussion about the true universality of Second Amendment rights, Buddy walked up to me and leaned in, as if to share a carefully guarded secret. Without saying a word, he briskly flashed a little card where I could catch a quick glimpse. It was his voter registration card. Emblazoned on its face was a conspicuous word: “Democrat.”