In light of the recent tragic events, second amendment rights have come to the surface once again. Anti gun activists are at full throttle to infringe on our rights. Social media has become the new soapbox for such groups to preach strict gun control. Even with a solid gun grabber campaign the social media impact is not what anti gun lobbyists are banking on. The trend, with help from many pro gun and pro 2nd amendment social media accounts is a growing awareness of gun ownership and the rights we all have. One such pro 2nd amendment platform has shared a personal story revolving around this exact movement. His social media presence is that of education in firearms and their history, which is all of our history. This informative story tells of one individuals change in perspective through education and open mined exploration in exercising the forefathers vision of our rights. Many thanks to @american.gunman for sending us his story, and for continuing the fight for all our rights.
The Impact of Social Media on Firearms
Written by Damian “American.Gunman” N.
Social Media has taken the world by storm. We all know this, but how does social media impact our Second Amendment rights? To explain that, it must first be told who I am and my experience with this topic. As a 19-year-old college kid from New Jersey, guns are not part of my everyday environment. In fact, most gun owners in this state seem to be shameful of their passion and refrain from discussing their opinions on the matter due to fear of the opposing party attacking them. However, those who have been bitten by the “gun bug” are almost always excited to discuss the topic with fellow gun owners! When I was very young, my Grandfather had a WWII issued Mosin Nagant that he took the bolt out of. This was my favorite “toy” at his house. After forgetting this rifle for years, I didn’t think much of shooting and never considered getting my own guns.
This leads to my first-time shooting. Less than a year ago, shortly after my 18th birthday, a group of friends and I were relaxing on a buddy’s deck. His father, a long-time gun supporter, joined us for conversation, and I mentioned that I have never shot a gun. His face lost all expression and he went inside. After a minute or two, he returned from his home with a small revolver and a lever action rifle, both chambered in .22lr. At this point, I knew what was about to happen, but tried my best to remain calm and contain the overwhelming excitement that was running through me. I shouldered the rifle, was corrected on my stance, taught how to aim, and pulled the trigger! Nothing happened. “It’s never a good idea to have someone with no clue what they’re doing fire a bullet their first time holding a gun.” He explained. Well, that was disappointing. Fortunately, that disappointment was short lived, as he took the gun out of my hand, loaded a round into the chamber, and simply said “Now it’s your second time.” The
excitement was back! I shouldered the rifle and aimed through the scope, locking on to the small bottle that sat on a log around 30 yards away from me. With a gentle exhale and a squeeze of the trigger, the bottle exploded. I was hooked.
The day after my first time ever firing a gun, I applied for my FID. Surprisingly, it only took around three weeks for the entire process to be complete. A phone call from the local police department alerted me that I had been approved and it was time for me to come in for fingerprinting. I must have run to my car faster than an Olympic sprinter, and made my way to the police station to finish my mission. Upon completion of all required actions, I was handed my new firearms license! What else to do but drive to the closest gun store and empty my bank account on big boy toys? In the store, I was greeted by a friendly salesman who congratulated me on my newly acquired freedom. I purchased a CORE 15 M4 and a Mississippi Valley double barreled shotgun. I went home and studied these weapons, looking over every detail and learning as much as possible. That’s when I decided to turn to Instagram for more information. I stumbled into an absolutely bursting world of patriots sharing their weapons, ideas, and opinions. All banding together to fight what seemed like an unbeatable force of anti-gun movements in our country. I decided I wanted to be part of this community, so I made an account: @American.Gunman. At first, the account was simply a small hobby where I posted pictures I thought were interesting. It wasn’t growing much, but I knew it had potential. One day, I decided to research an FP-45 Liberator, and post a short recap of the weapon. It went viral, and so did my page. Now, I have over 50 thousand followers and post detailed descriptions of weapons and their histories every day. This research, combined with the growth of my page and gun collection, turned me into a full-blown addict to the sport. So, how does social media impact the gun world? Exposure.
By exposing people to the history of shooting and the weapons used during world-altering events, such as WWII, I have been able to watch as people all over the world see guns as instruments of freedom and history, rather than “evil death machines,” as some members of society try to make them out to be. Another excellent characteristic of social media is the exposure to the youth. Personally, my account, @American.Gunman, has a following that consists of 70% people between the ages of 18-34, and another 10% from 13-17. By teaching the youth that guns are not to be feared and should be appreciated for what they really are, tools for freedom and entertainment, the future generation of leaders and politicians can escape the grasp of anti-gunners and support the preservation of our freedoms.
On the topic of youth with firearms, it is important to understand that not all young people who are new to shooting have experienced teachers available. For example, my father has no interest in firearms, and couldn’t teach me how to shoot or safely handle a gun. Upon research in the community and asking fellow young gun owners on Instagram, it seems universally agreed that social media offered a place for them to look for advice on safety and honing their shooting skills. As one friend of mine put it, “this whole firearm scene on Instagram helps to teach a lot of beginners and young people that are starting out the basic principles of proper handling, safety, and etiquette of firearms in general.” His statement summarizes this important aspect of social media perfectly: Instagram teaches the youth how to be safe with guns, how to handle a firearm, and how to act when around other people shooting.
Social media provides a platform for likeminded individuals to share their ideas with each other and rally support for important causes. By having accounts with larger followings share petitions that demand action against unconstitutional rulings that destroy our right to bear arms, hitting the required number of signatures, typically 100 thousand, to have the petition
passed on to governing officials not only becomes less daunting, but also encourages more support for the cause. If one user sees another user supporting national carry laws, they will be more likely to share the idea with their followers, creating a chain reaction of support through social media. While this is merely the beginning of the pro-gun movement on the internet, it is a solid foundation that allows massive rallying and exposure to actions that help restore our 2nd Amendment rights.
Aside from the political aspect of social media, Instagram also creates a platform for small and developing companies to show off their new innovations. By allowing pages with large followings to use and review their products, companies can acquire a marketing campaign with low cost and high reach. This is a blessing to small businesses, as most other marketing strategies are very expensive. An example of this happened to me very recently. A small company that makes themed “boxes” full of gear of shooting and survival reached out to me. We worked out a deal where they will send me a free box in exchange for an honest review on @American.Gunman. This deal had very low cost to the business, and will result in exposure of the brand. Therefore, social media is not merely a way to pass time, but it is also a political tool that grows support for movements as well as a marketing instrument for newly founded companies.
Another use of social media for businesses in the firearms market is not created by the company, but by the consumer. If a person purchases an item that they absolutely love, they can post it on their account’s page to express their happiness with the product. While this is good for the business, it is also good for other consumers, as they can feel more certain that purchasing said item is a good decision. On the other end of this, one may be very disappointed with their
choice of purchase, and can turn to social media to tell of their misfortune. This acts as a service to other consumers, warning them not to waste their hard-earned money on a sub-par product.
To summarize, social media is a fast-growing form of communication and entertainment. People from all backgrounds and cultures can interact with each other through the internet, using social media as a platform to host these encounters. The gun community on social media can band together to generate overwhelming support for political causes, as well as help consumers choose the best products and businesses grow. However, the absolute most important aspect of guns on social media is the exposure to younger audiences. By explaining what guns are, rather than the anti-gun misconception, the youth can learn to respect firearms and appreciate their impact on the world. Firearms can be used for a plethora of practices, ranging from hunting to target shooting and from personal defense to the preservation of freedom. The future of this country, as well as the world, lies in the hands of the youth. Social media allows us to show the youth that firearms, when used right, are excellent tools that do far more good than evil. In addition to this, young people can learn the proper safety and etiquette of firearms handling when no one is available to teach them directly. Exposing the youth to the good in guns can be considered an insurance policy to preserve our freedom when the young members of society grow older and take over political offices.