Removing fear … of firearms

How do you remove the fear of something? One way is to learn how that something works because familiarity helps to remove the fear of an object or activity.

I meet many people and in our conversations, they ask me what I do, and I tell them. This is when they say the phrase “Oh. I’m afraid of guns!” usually accompanied by a grimace, a headshake and a wave. It’s almost as they’ve just smelled something bad. I say I understand and then ask if they were afraid when they first learned to ride a bicycle or drive on the expressway. They normally answer in the affirmative and I follow up by asking what took that fear away. Of course, the answer is either they learned how the bicycle worked or they got used to doing what was necessary in order to ride the bike or to drive in traffic going 60+ mph just feet from the other vehicles. Then over time, as all of that has come to be a familiar activity…no more fear.

The same holds true for firearms of any kind. By taking a beginning firearms class, the individual new to firearms learns to name the pieces, the proper nomenclature, how to properly and safely handle, and then store a firearm so that there are no surprises.

We accomplish this by classroom work. Sitting through some PowerPoint slides, reading and viewing training aids, using training firearms and of course being able to ask the instructor any question that may pop in to their minds.

Then at the range, they experience live fire activities. At first, there is only one cartridge in the gun. Yes, it’s a bit like Barney Fife, but when someone new to firearms realizes that they’ve lived through that first loud bang and punched a hole in a target, excitement ensues and it’s the instructor’s responsibility to be sure that they don’t forget about the rules of safety. Eventually we supply a full cylinder or magazine and as they continue to shoot, you can see that initial fear leaving.

Finally, they successfully shoot their qualification target and they realize they’ve really accomplished something. They’ve learned to control something powerful. This is when a huge smile replaces that initial expression of fear. They still should have a great respect for that firearm, but knowledge and experience replace the fear and you can see a change in attitude happening.

Yes, there are many reasons to not own or like firearms and that is okay because it is an individual’s decision. However, fear is no longer one of them.