“With one lost generation, we could lose the Second Amendment forever. What effort has our generation spent to ensure the next generation feels as deeply as we do? If we focus on anti-gun legislation, but ignore an anti-gun generation; if we spend years as pro-gun activists but only minutes as pro-gun mentors; if we earn the support of this generation of office holders but ignore the next generation of voters; we will have failed. If you consider yourself a freedom loving patriot, you can’t shirk your duty to teach America’s young to understand the Second Amendment -to revere it, to embrace it, to defend it, and in their turn to bequeath it. Only then can we pass the torch with that sacred flame that lights the American way.” -Charlton Heston, A Torch with No Flame
Gun control activists understand they aren’t going to change your opinion about legal gun ownership. None of the organized school protests, national and local anti-gun rallies, and social media misinformation campaigns are targeted at you. Instead, they seek to appeal to teens and young adults -to portray legal gun ownership as the cause of violent crime including mass shootings. They seek to drive a generational wedge into support for the Second Amendment in order to hinder the freedoms it protects. Too many gun owners have fallen for this trap by being critical of the involvement of young people in politics and civic affairs; setting us up as the enemy.
I don’t believe for a second that the average 18 year old is less likely to support the Second Amendment than the average 58 year old. Despite the media narrative, A USA Today survey from March found that just 47 percent of young people between 13 and 17 years of age thought “tightening gun control laws and background checks will prevent more mass public shootings in the United States.” 61% of older voters agreed with that statement. Of the 200,000 people who participated in the gun control march in Washington DC, only about 10% were under 18 years of age. The average age was 49. The threat to gun ownership isn’t coming from young adults.
We have a responsibility to future generations to portray responsible gun ownership and self defense rights in a positive and inclusive way; regardless of age, gender, race, religion; or even political affiliation. That requires us to act in a considerate manner, rather than rash statements or behavior done in anger or frustration. It entails us making thoughtful decisions about our political activity rather than being antagonistic. It means we need to do a better job emulating the examples set by the generations that preceded our own.
In an issue of On Target several years ago, I wrote about my concerns with our aging membership, the original shall-issue concealed carry activists passing away. Since then, we’ve made considerable progress in attracting young members, instructors, and activists. We’ve done this through modernization including a strong focus on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and e-mail. Your thoughts on how we can do a better job of reaching out to young people, particularly young gun owners are always appreciated.
Brady Schickinger, Executive Director