The thoughts of your ordinary ammo salesman.
For an extended introduction read my first Ammo Tale concerning my impression of the Ammo shortage of 2009-10 which grew from fear about President Obama's election.
Peer pressure influences so much in life, yet it never occurred to me before today that peer pressure might also be influencing Americans toward gun use. Today I sold ammo to two nice young women who each bought 100 rounds of .38 special hand gun ammo. I'm a curious person by nature who likes to randomly play the social scientist so I asked the girls where they were going to shoot. They replied they'd be getting their concealed carry permits on the morrow. I'd had that answer many times, but today for the first time I asked them "why?" were they getting their concealed carry permits.
They both said so they could mainly keep a loaded gun in their car. Nothing insane about that I guess. Personal safety is the trope I hear every day from my customers. One of the ladies had grown up on a farm and loved shooting. I wasn't shocked by her answer, I have tons of customers who just love shooting and the concealed carry permit is a natural outlet of that excitement. I fear the desire for concealed weapons is an outgrowth of too many action movies about quick draw dead eyes shooting bank robbers and murderers from the hip. But whatever. If you're not harming anyone then go ahead and practice your 2nd Amendment rights. You're keeping me in a job.
But the discussion veered quickly when the other lady announced (and I'm paraphrasing but you get the basic conversation): "yeah my family is insane about guns and my husband wants me to be safe." Now this left me dumbfounded. I didn't want to intrude and I didn't want what was light banter while I processed the transaction to become some intrusion into personal history. Still I wondered how much the lady actually wanted to carry a gun and how much she was being pressured to have a gun by her husband, an extension of his fear and worry about personal safety projected onto her.
So I instead followed up on the comment about the ladies' family being gun crazy. Multiple guns in the house, tons of ammo but that they practiced gun safety. She even said her kids (ages 2 and 4, not certain of gender) received BB guns for Christmas. Luckily the guns were going in the closet for a couple of years (hopefully more than a couple! I thought) still I couldn't help but have a mental image develop in my mind which begged the question: does peer pressure influence and promulgate gun culture?
From hundreds of conversations with ammo buyers I know there is a certain amount of "keeping up with the Joneses" in gun culture. Someone's friend gets a .45, that guy gets a .45. Someone gets an AR-15, that guy gets an AR-15. My buddy has 10,000 rounds. I'm getting 15,000. No different than the other material contests for superiority that are a part of life for many people. I call that subtle peer pressure; the basic desire to shoot and own guns exists but is exacerbated by a persons' own desire to outdo others in acquiring the coolest, most, and best guns.
But I suspect there is a more subtle pressure exerted upon some people. Some people like to shoot and some don't. Maybe they don't like the concussion or noise. Maybe it's scary. Maybe it's just boring and pointless to them. Still there are others who like shooting well enough but think guns should be kept apart from everyday life. An activity for the weekend rather than a lifestyle necessity. I suspect there are a few people who are subtly forced to go along with more gun usage than they'd like because of a family member or friend who is very passionate about gun rights and gun usage.
The most obvious examples I see in modern society are the families of preppers on television shows like Doomsday Bunkers and Doomsday Preppers. These shows usually have a "uber-Prepper" who takes it very seriously and a family that is somewhat less enthusiastic about it (although they might well be interested, it seems clear to me from body language and facial expressions that the kids and spouse are somewhat bored at times). Something I notice, in addition to the Prepper radically changing the lifestyle of the family, on these shows is often mandatory gun training of the spouse and kids (even small kids around the age of 7-10). There certainly is no "hey Tim wanna go out in the yard and shoot the .22?" to some of these lead Preppers. It's often a no discussion "my kids must learn to protect themselves when [blank disaster] happens" decision made without any input from the kids.
Now that is an extreme example from the far end of the spectrum of gun culture, but I wonder how much more subtle pressure is being exerted out there on kids, friends, and family members to "go shoot". Since guns are so prevalent in American culture I know that society itself does much to press people towards gun usage, and not without good reason sometimes. Shooting is fun for some and guns are a symbol of freedom as well as individuality. I can even make that statement that "I like shooting" when it comes to small caliber rifles. But I wonder for how many, including kids, it isn't fun and is just keeping up with the Joneses.
I wondered it about the lady today. I also wished her well and good luck on her test. Another safe user I hope.
6:50 PM PT: Cool "Community Spotlight List"! Thanks for the comments everyone. I just got the chance to get back to this diary after being away from computer all day.