How often do you step outside of your comfort zone? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if you’re like most people, not very often. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s ingrained within our minds to be creatures of habit, to take the path of least resistance. Routine is a staple of human nature. For example, instead of exploring local radio stations I pick a few songs I like and let Pandora find more of the same for me. It’s not that I’m opposed to new music, but 90s alternative happens to be my comfort zone. Think of the slew of blogs, tv stations, and periodicals that only broadcast to certain interests or viewpoints. Yes, they can help someone expand their knowledge on a given subject, but more often than not they’re used to just reaffirm what the person already knew or were thinking. By staying in our respective comfort zones, we’re not pushed to think about other issues or ideas. We tend to lump people who don’t agree or care for what we like in stereotypes and dismiss them. Which is one of the reasons I’m going to a gun show.
A few months ago I wrote a piece about open carry laws in my neighborhood. In it, I acknowledged the fact that I’m not comfortable around guns. Guns are weapons and in a civilized society I find little place for them. Add to the point that wearing a weapon out in public is intimidating for those of us without them, that I feel safe enough in the city with the second highest crime rate in America to not carry anything but a cell phone, and you can come to the conclusion I’m just not a big fan of firearms.
Other than pushing myself out of my comfort zone, why else would I go to a gun show? For starters, I’m not going alone. My friend is taking me there. (He has a few guns and we’ve had some interesting conversations on gun control before.) Part of my reason for attending is to break out of the notion that all people who like guns are gun nuts. (I maintain that there is a difference between someone who knows about an issue and someone who is fanatical about it. Fanatics of anything are scary; be it sports, tv shows, nations, religions, or weapons.) I want to learn more about what kind of person owns multiple guns but doesn’t hunt. And what kind of booth will the NRA have, if any? Will there be other liberals there? I’m not going to lie, I’m also hoping to break some of the stereotypes I have about gun owners. (The two times I’ve been in a gun store the clientele/employees were mostly white middle-aged men.) Most importantly, I’m not going to prove a point, I’m going out of curiosity. I have no clue what goes on at a gun show. At the very least it should be a fun fish out of water experience.
Besides, what could possibly be more all-American than going to a gun show on September 11?