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Mainstream Misconceptions About Gun Owners

If you are an avid gun owner, chances are you have found yourself in at least one awkward conversation. You're just talking with someone and the subject of guns comes up. Once it gets out that you own some, or even like them, the tone changes. You may even get the idea that you're being silently judged.

It's happened to plenty of people.

There are a number of myths and misconceptions out there about gun owners. People who don't own any have some bad ideas about gun owners, and some gun owners have bad ideas about other gun owners. Let's address some of those misconceptions.

Gun Owners are Uneducated

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One misconception about gun owners is that they are uneducated. The idea is that gun ownership is mostly restricted to blue-collar types and so on and so forth.

In actual fact, gun owners are rather diverse when it comes to educational attainment. Furthermore, more gun owners have either some college or a bachelor's degree than merely a high school diploma.

A 2017 survey by Pew Research found 31 percent of people who own a gun have a high school education or less, while 34 percent had some college and 25 percent had a bachelor's degree or better. In other words, nearly 60 percent of people who owned a gun had more than a high school diploma.

A 2016 survey by Harvard University, according to The Trace similarly found that 34 percent of gun owners surveyed had a high school diploma or less; 26 percent of gun owners had some college and 20 percent had a Bachelor's degree or higher.

In other words, gun ownership is marginally less common among those with the highest levels of educational attainment, but more common among those with more than a high school diploma than those with only (or less than) a high school education.

Gun Owners are Scared of the Government

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There has been an explosion of conspiracy theories in recent years. When talk was swirling around about more gun control, many conspiracy leaders urged people to “take up arms” and prepare to fight the government. As a result, many individuals view people who have firearms for whatever reason to be part of some secret militia plotting against the government.

The fact of the matter is that most gun owners love their country. They do not always agree with a particular candidate or certain policies. This makes them citizens, not crazy people. Most gun owners love their country and the foundation it has been built upon. They earnestly hope that it will be preserved so that they maintain their freedoms that the government has afforded them for years.

Gun Owners Are Rabid Republicans

Another misconception about gun owners is that they are - to a man - rabid conservatives and/or Republicans. It's just not true. The same Pew Foundation survey found 41 percent of gun owners surveyed (that responded to the question) did identify as Republicans, 16 percent identified as Democrats and 36 percent identified as Independents.

While it's true that gun owners do skew somewhat in this regard, the truth is that gun owners are not the solid bloc that many would assume. They have diverse opinions and leanings like everyone else.

Gun Owners Have Private Arsenals That Could Be Used To Invade A Small Country

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Another misconception about gun owners is that each has a small private arsenal that would suffice to invade Lichtenstein. We're all rabid, raving and armed to the teeth, with all sorts of assault and tactical stuff, waiting for the aliens to invade or the New World Order to send their storm troopers around to take over the local Walmart.

While it's true that some people have some pretty sizable collections, again the truth is that the stereotype doesn't reflect reality. A good number of gun owners have only one, but of those that own multiple, most of them own five or fewer firearms. Pew, for instance, found 37 percent of respondents owned two to four guns, and 32 percent owned only one, meaning that only three in every ten gun owners owns five or more guns.

Gun Owners Have Many Motivations For Owning Guns

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There are a lot of misconceptions about why gun owners own guns. The idea that some have is that gun owners are concerned about the government turning tyrannical, that society will collapse, that criminals are lurking around every corner, or that they are sociopaths looking for an excuse to finally kill someone.

Such stereotypes are as ludicrous as they are wrong and offensive.

There are three primary motivations for owning a firearm: for protection, for sport, and for collection. As to the latter, some people like antique and historic guns for a variety of purposes and collect them. As to sport shooting, there are target shooting sports and then there are the hunting disciplines, with many subsections and specialties within each.

Personal protection is certainly a common reason why a person might own a gun, whether it's a shotgun or pistol kept in the home or a concealed carry gun toted in a concealed carry holster. Many people own a gun or two for this purpose.

The reason why each person who owns a gun is as varied as the people themselves. While there are some things that gun owners have in common, there are just as many if not more things that differ, as much as each individual person does.

Gun Owners Aren't Concerned With Gun Violence

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This stereotype is arguably the most offensive misconception about gun owners that exists. Nothing rankles them more than when someone insists that because they have a few guns at home that they aren't concerned about or saddened by random atrocities carried out by murderous lunatics.

Nothing could be further from the truth. It's offensive that anyone could think that about anyone else. It's worse that media personalities either insinuate or flatly state that it's the case.

If anything, such incidents are possibly worse - in a certain sense - for gun owners. Not only do we recoil in shock and disgust at the events that take place, we also know the stigma that comes after. We're one of "those people" that own guns, the evil instruments of death and destruction. Since a gun was used to do evil, the people who own them or enjoy them must be evil too according to some people.

Try as we might to get the message across, some people just aren't willing to listen. We want gun violence to stop as much as anyone. In fact, gun owners have even more reason for wanting a cessation of gun violence.

What many gun owners understand is that a police officer is probably not going to be able to come to your aid when a dangerous situation unfolds. What that means is that you may need to take your personal protection into your own hands. One of the best means for doing so is a gun. When it's proposed that private citizens be barred from having one, it means leaving us at the mercy of the dregs of society, which is just not something we are willing endure.

It means we're barred from enjoying shooting sports, including harvesting the bounty of nature in a lawful and responsible nature. Not everyone wants to depend on grocery stores and their meat departments, who aren't exactly forthcoming or knowledgeable about what's in their meat or where it comes from.

If only one misconception about gun owners could be stamped out, this would surely be the one most deserving of being relegated to the trash heap. Unfortunately, the simple-minded and vituperative nature of some gun control advocates will likely result in gun owners having to listen to this vile accusation for some time.

Sam Hoober, contributin editor
 

About The Author

Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.