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Gun Rights are for Everyone

Originally published by the Houston Courant.

Would you like to know how you can always spot a gun owner in a crowd?

Here’s the secret: you can’t.

Gun owners aren’t just “old white guys.” They’re not only the fellows in the ‘Murica t-shirts grilling up a perfect steak. And gun owners certainly aren’t limited to those who identify with the right side of the aisle.

As tirelessly as gun-grabbing politicians, mainstream media, and other like-minded individuals have worked to develop a spotless stereotype of a gun owner, the clichés don’t hold up.

That’s because gun rights are for everyone, and gun owners who prize those precious rights come from all types and stripes.

I don’t fit the “old white guy” mold, and I’ve noticed it throws people off.

A few years back, I lined up at the mic during a meeting on campus carry. The middle-aged woman in front of me, sporting a Bloomberg-funded organization sticker, told me to take her place because “they need to hear from people like you.” I thanked her and made my comments at the mic—and proceeded to blow her mind when I, as a young female, revealed that I wasn’t supporting her cause.

It obviously hadn’t occurred to her that I might actually be in favor of protecting my right to keep and bear arms.

Unfortunately, we as gun owners frequently fall into a similar trap. We overlook or misjudge others who agree with us on the all-important gun rights issue, simply because they don’t fit our own personal stereotype.

I recently heard someone state that, if a person believes in gun rights, he or she most certainly also believes in specific policies (ones that are traditionally labeled “conservative”).

That’s a load of baloney.

While it’s true that people in the “conservative” category generally are “pro-gun,” it’s absolutely false to say that everyone who is “pro-gun” is also “conservative.”

This is why we need to stop using labels and start actually listening to each other.

It’s high time we stop making assumptions about people by putting them into neat boxes that pundits try to use to categorize voters. And it is always time for us to acknowledge that gun rights are non-partisan, non-exclusive, and not reserved only for others who also share our other policy beliefs.

Gun rights are for everyone.

A few days ago, I had the pleasure of participating in an AMA—”Ask Me Anything”—on the 2Aliberals Reddit forum. I spent over an hour reading and typing my answers to thought-provoking, eager questions from self-identified “liberals” who are also strong proponents of the right to keep and bear arms.

It was one of the most enjoyable hours of my week.

My right to keep and bear arms is the most important policy issue to me. The group didn’t disappoint, from all my observations, they are absolutely, unapologetically supportive of our Constitutional right to keep and bear arms. And frankly, as a gun rights activist and leader, I don’t care about much beyond that.

That’s why it makes me angry when my minority friends tell me that they are looked down on when they try to exercise their right to keep and bear arms. They tell me they’re eyed more warily. Some of them don’t dare open carry their guns, even though it’s perfectly legal, because they are looked at as criminals.

I’m not okay with my fellow Americans treating other fellow Americans as lesser-class citizens who can’t fully exercise their Constitutional rights.

It’s far past time to look past someone’s exterior, stop pigeonholing people with labels, and welcome fellow gun owners as brothers and sisters in the fight for our rights.

And as for those who are not unapologetically supportive of our Constitutional right to keep and bear arms—well, the Second Amendment is for them, too. Their lives are precious, too. And I want them, too, to be prepared to defend and protect themselves against harm.

Because gun rights are for everyone.