Gunsite Academy Training Class

Gunsite Academy Training Class

Courtesy Kat Ainsworth

For decades, the gun control industry has preached that all gun owners must be trained, preferably as a prerequisite to owning a firearm. If they had their way, we’d have a law mandating long, no doubt expensive courses before anyone is allowed to exercise their Second Amendment rights. Maybe we will one day soon.

Here we have a Wired writer engaging in some tight-fisted pearl-clutching over the growing prevalence of…firearms training….and the tens (hundreds?) of thousand of responsible gun owners who pay for it every year. What Rachel Monroe’s piece really is is 6000 words of alarmist projection of her innate fear and distaste for firearms-owning Americans and the gun culture in general.

[T]he tactical shooting world also attracts a much wider range of people: gun bros and gamers, preppers and adrenaline junkies, LARPers who want to spend their weekends cosplaying as commandos, and crime victims seeking a particular flavor of empowerment. Women make up a growing proportion of students, and the industry is increasingly catering to preachers and teachers who want to know how to face a mass shooter.

“We’re getting a lot of nontraditional gun owners, and some people who don’t want people to know they’re learning to shoot guns,” says Ken Campbell, the CEO of Gunsite, which claims to be the country’s oldest tactical training facility.

As we head into an era that seems destined to be marked by escalating vigilantism and political violence—or, if we’re very lucky, just the fear of them—it’s time to reckon with the whole of American tactical culture. For all its power to shape this moment, that culture has roots that long precede it.

The tactical world is a byproduct of years of rampant mass shootings and of our nation’s longest wars, the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s a space where paramilitary ideas thrive and where ordinary gun owners learn to see themselves as potential heroes; but it’s also where many Americans have simply gone looking for a way to negotiate living in a country where there are more firearms than people.

To try to understand it better, I spent this fall absorbing its mix of skills training, political indoctrination, and camaraderie. Sometimes it felt like CrossFit with bullets; sometimes it was more alarming than that.

— Rachel Monroe in I Am Not a Soldier, but I Have Been Trained to Kill

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