Nearly 14 million gun-sale background checks have been conducted in 2021.
As more Americans purchase firearms, it’s natural to see participants from more diverse racial and socio-economic backgrounds. For gun control interests, this is unsettling. Why? They arrogantly assume it’s sexist and racist to support gun rights. And they couldn’t be more wrong.
That’s why organizations like the U.S. Concealed Carry Association (USCCA) hope to capitalize on this positive trend through their Reality Check campaign.
I recently spoke to two USCCA ambassadors, firearms instructor Beth Alcazar and Top Shot Season 4 Champion Chris Cheng, on why a strengthened firearms community can derail gun control policies going forward.
What ‘Reality Check’ Entails
As of this writing, USCCA boasts over 500,000 members. The group desires to give “responsible gun owners the knowledge and training they need to stay safe before, during and after a threat.”
Its Reality Check campaign aims to train 1.3 million Americans about safe and responsible firearms use by 2025.
“The face of firearms is kind of maybe different from what that stereotype is,” said Alcazar. “Luckily, in the gun industry, we have seen this changing over the last couple of decades.”
“You’ve got advocates or you’ve got business owners. Entrepreneurs. The whole spectrum,” added Concealed Carry Magazine’s Associate Editor. “Reality Check, I think, is just a way to kind of mimic that or mirror that and show that it’s people— everyday folks, all backgrounds, all walks of life.”
“For me, I was invited by USCCA to participate in the Reality Check campaign as a way to reach out to LGBT and Asian shooters and potential gun owners and current gun owners,” said Cheng.
“I think the idea of the Reality Check campaign is to talk about change isn't scary, and it shouldn't be scary—especially when we're talking about all of the new gun owners that we've seen over the past year and a half,” added the Top Shot Season 4 champion. “With all of these new faces— and new gun owners—our rights are being more protected with more gun owners that we bring into the fold.”
Of the 1.3 million goal, Cheng said, “I think it's a very audacious goal, but also very attainable.”
“And [the] Reality Check campaign is about reaching out not just to new gun owners but even existing gun owners, right, who maybe they bought a firearm during the pandemic but they didn't have a chance to go to the range.”
Diversity in the Gun Community is Good for America, Bad for Gun Control
“I was a little shocked at this recent report that came out about two weeks ago by the Violence Policy Center, which was basically criticizing the National Shooting Sports Foundation and criticizing me and other advocates for talking about Asian outreach in the firearms community,” said Cheng. “What was shocking is, you know, they’re criticizing the gun industry for reaching out to the Asian American population, and they’re accusing me and others of leveraging fear, right, that the pandemic has brought and scaring Asian Americans into buying guns—which is the furthest thing from the truth. And quite frankly, it’s insulting and borderline racist.”
Outreach to women, Alcazar added, was initially met with resistance but is paying off today. Why? Women accounted for almost 50 percent of new gun owners last year.
“It's very interesting that so many folks seem to be against diversity,” noted Alcazar. “I know that as more and more women got involved with the firearms industry and with just taking ownership of their lives and responsibility for their own personal safety, I think that's where the media or the anti-gun folks started to get really nervous because it's so much easier to kind of be against a stereotype and against a group.”
“I think they're really frightened by the fact that the gun community now looks like America,” she added. “I mean, we are literally every kind of person you can imagine. And that's what's so cool...we're not hiding that fact anymore.”
A Political Force Going Forward
Both Alcazar and Cheng believe as the gun community grows, support for gun control will continue to wane.
“I'm encouraged that maybe we can start making a stronger difference or a stronger voice in our own communities, and hopefully that will later affect what's happening maybe on a federal level or what's happening in D.C.,” Alcazar stressed.
“Each one of us can have a huge effect in our own communities, with our own legislators— whether that's a local community, whether that's a school, whether that's for our own states,” she added. “I like to say we can be pebbles in puddles. And if you throw a pebble in a puddle, it's going to make that ripple effect.”
Cheng’s group, which filed an amicus brief in support of the forthcoming Supreme Court gun case, also plans to make waves.
“'I’m excited that APAGOA submitted this amicus brief in support of concealed carry rights,” he added. “We're really excited to have been involved in one of these key democratic processes in participating in the United States Supreme Court case sitting before them.”