Letter Re: Observations of a Shopkeeper

I did not enjoy logging on to Survival Blog this evening and reading about how ignorant we are according to “R.R.” Can’t he just educate their customers about the safe handling and proper cleaning of a firearm. I just can’t imagine why R.R. would continue selling such deadly weapons to us imbeciles. Please publish the name of your shop so we can know never to bother you there again. Thank you ever so much, – D.R.

HJL Responds: I think you have missed the concept that R.R. was trying to portray. I was a scoutmaster for 11 years as my boys progressed through the program. During this time, we went on campouts every month. As I taught the boys “the scouting way”, my second biggest problem was dealing with fathers who were self taught “experts” in camping. They may have been camping their whole lives, and what they did may have actually worked well (though most times it didn’t), but they resisted “the scouting way”. Things as simple as building a fire became work, as I dealt with the arrogant attitudes of those who believed they knew better. There is no doubt that there are many ways to accomplish tasks, but I simply wanted them to learn the way the scouts taught it (straight from the manual), so that everybody would have a common method. Once they learned the basics, they could modify it as they wished.

R.R. has pointed out a problem that plagues prepping. How often have you seen “Doomsday Preppers” and thought that the people interviewed gave prepping a black eye (for the moment we will ignore the bias of the producers)? I personally would have added a fourth category that crossed the boundaries that he laid out. Several firearms instructors I know will not deal with police and those civilians that think they know everything. It becomes too much work to convince the person to let go of what they know and follow instructions. Most veterans have a pretty good training. Most police have dismal training for the hardware that they carry. Still, those two groups at least have a management structure that encourages training (or should). The average citizen has no such motivation. Often they don’t even know enough to know what questions to ask. Those that are self taught generally come dangerously close believing that they have all the answers. I initially tried helping those whom I practiced with. Then I started wearing a vest when I wasn’t certain of the skill level of the person I was with, but I have been flagged by so many who have no muzzle discipline that I eventually gave up out of concern for my own safety. Now, I refuse to practice with anyone unless either I am confident in their skills or they are willing to submit to my authority on the range. Rather than take offense at what R.R. has pointed out, we should make sure that we don’t fit into the “ignorant” category. Whether it is being forward enough to ask questions (or at least admit that we don’t know what questions to ask), or making sure that we are not so arrogant that we refuse to listen to someone else, we need to encourage learning. I’m certain if you visited R.R.’s store, he would be happy to instruct you in the use of that shiny new AR15 or at least point you in the right direction. If you engaged him in conversation, he would be able to ascertain just where you needed to start your training at.

Also, living in a state and county that has more firearms than citizens has a tendency to jade my thinking. It is easy for me to forget that it is inconvenient for many to practice or even follow through with training after having purchased a firearm. Even here, there are many who purchase because it is popular. What they know of combat is what they learned on the Xbox or PlayStation. As any combat veteran can tell you, video games may be an effective tool in desensitizing a person to violence, but there is a world of difference between the T.V. and real life.

For those that were wondering, the biggest problem I faced as a scoutmaster was the babysitting issue. BSA does not stand for Babysitters of America. For those who are still parents of teenagers, the BSA may no longer be the program of choice, but whatever the program is, get involved with them.