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A Letter to My Fellow Gun Owners

Our leaders must end mass shootings now. And gun owners can lead the charge.

Yesterday, I was at the world’s most picturesque gun range practicing with my Glock 10mm. Clouds swirled around snowcapped peaks as I happily put some rounds downrange, shots ringing in the unseasonably cool mountain air.

My best friend was there. So was my dad. We enjoyed the empty range for a few hours, switching over to shoot some clay pigeons with my dad’s new 20 gauge he’d gotten for Christmas.

We laughed at misses and congratulated each other too much on good shots. It was the kind of fun every recreational shooter cherishes. Great times with great friends.

And then I looked at my phone. Nineteen children and a teacher had just been murdered. It had happened again.

For those of you who are going to comment that we should stick to gear: First, no. And second, well, guns are gear. So deal with it.

I cannot sit here and wax on about backpacks today. I cannot continue to carry on and pretend the world is just fine as it is. It isn’t fine.

To my fellow gun owners, I ask you to consider this: If we do not take the lead here, we will ultimately lose control of this issue to those who do not share our desire to shoot guns safely and responsibly. And then we will sit back and watch, possibly losing our right to bear arms in time.

And we have our elected leaders to blame. Yes, our elected leaders from both parties are to blame. But I’m mostly addressing Republicans now, because it is the party that embraces gun culture the closest, yet has utterly failed to lead.

Instead, both parties resort to bickering, backstabbing, and general buffoonery instead of getting anything done.

Do Your Job

To every member of Congress, every Senator and House Representative, and to the President of the United States, today you have the blood of 19 children on your hands. You’re stained by the blood of men and women killed in a supermarket — and a whole lot more.

I’m speaking to my fellow gun owners, particularly those who are also elected leaders. According to a 2013 survey, 119 Republicans and 46 Democrats in Congress declared themselves as gun owners. That data is old, but I’d argue those numbers haven’t changed much since because, let’s face it, nothing else has either.

Since Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered 12 students and one teacher at Columbine High School — an unimaginable and unprecedented horror when it occurred on April 20, 1999 — nothing has changed. Nothing, that is, except how much we’ve adapted to it.

I could dive into the grim statistics around mass shootings, but let’s face it, everyone already knows them. Literally, thousands of Americans have died or been injured in a mass shooting since that sad day in Colorado. And yesterday, we added another 21 to the list.

Enough is enough. To my fellow gun owners, particularly you in powerful government positions, we must be the change we so desperately seek. It is time for us to lead. It is far, far beyond time to do something.

What must we do? I don’t have a precise answer. And I’m not in a position to create legislation. But I do vote, and I do pay my taxes. And I’m not asking you — I’m telling you. Do your job!

Mental health is inseparable from this problem, and it needs more attention. I can’t stand paying taxes, but so long as I do, let’s allocate more resources to address it.

Let’s also make it harder for people who are not going to be responsible owners to get firearms. I don’t want to lose my right to buy a gun. But I’m willing to add an hour of waiting for a background check to the process.

You have had bill H.R.8 to enact universal background checks on your desk since 2019. While it would not have prevented this tragedy, you haven’t so much as taken that first step, to end unlicensed transfers of firearms without a background check.

If you worked for me — you do — I’d have two words for you: You’re fired!

The Baffling Case of Inaction

According to multiple surveys, around 90% of gun owners support expanded background checks on sales of all firearms. According to a specific poll, that includes 72% of NRA members.

Are universal background checks enough? I don’t know. But they are a step and one that is broadly supported by Americans. That seems like a good place to start.

I love shooting sports. I hunt. I’ve shot competitively to the point that I was the Wisconsin junior state champion in skeet back in the ’80s.

I got my first gun when I was 12 — I get it. And before you spout off about me being a “liberal snowflake,” let me assure you, I’m not. I cringe when I pay taxes, I lament large government, and I’ve worked in the private sector, as a capitalist, for my entire career.

And I would gladly vote for a Republican who had the courage to take the lead on mass shootings in a pragmatic way. I cannot continue to stand by while my fellow Americans die in schools and grocery stores.

Today, 19 children should be daydreaming in class, excited for summer break. Nineteen kids should be playing football at recess and learning math. But they aren’t. They are gone, forever.

It’s up to us to make sure this never happens again.

I would ask those who truly care about firearms to lead. We must do something now. And if that something does not work, we must try something else, until we find a solution that does.

Because if time has taught us anything, inaction kills. We must act. And we must act today.

Sean McCoy

Sean McCoy is the Editorial Director of GearJunkie, and 5+ other All Gear websites.

He has been writing about hunting, fishing, trail running, camping, skiing, and more for 15+ years.

Prior to GearJunkie, he was the chief photographer for the Virgin Islands Daily News and former Editor In Chief for GearJunkie. Based in Denver, Colorado, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.