An Open Letter
To the Firearms Community
Stemming the Illinois Brain Drain.
by Tim Giblin
Under twenty-five years of Chicago politics, many law-abiding gun owners have fled the oppressive regime of the gun grabbers in Illinois. Even for truly common-sense legislation (right-to-carry laws that failed in 2012), we do not have the necessary mass at the ballot box to get stuff through. The issues were so apparent that Illinois was court-ordered to implement concealed carry when the legislature couldn’t pass it.
Even now, the rumbling from some of the best instructors in the state is that some want to depart. The number of Illinois instructors that have chosen to move on to greener pastures once they have perfected their craft, while understandable, is utterly appalling for the health of this state.
The citizens of this potentially great state need for people to stop leaving. We need them to stay and I’ll tell you why: The Firearms Community needs to be represented by the professional, by the educated, and by the well-spoken.
Unfortunately, for everyone involved, individuals possessing these qualities are the most capable of moving. When those traits are mixed with strong pro-freedom beliefs, they leave this state quickly once faced with this state’s current shortcomings.
Illinois can be turned around. First, good people must simply stop leaving. If the population of gun owners is allowed to decrease much further, the non-gun owners will no longer have access to people who can speak intelligently about guns in their work places and social circles. Education comes from peers more than any other source. So this brain drain is not an issue of one person leaving, but of losing the positive representation of the Second Amendment in our neighborhoods and workplaces.
Our cause needs good representatives—not some cheesy card with a tip at a restaurant. If a gun owner is trying to be an example, they must go out acting like it, not by yelling about rights, but by being a reasonable and normal human being. People who interact with gun owners should walk away thinking, “That was the nicest person I’ve met this week, and he’s a gun owner, so they can’t all be bad.”
It won’t take just one or two interactions to get people asking questions, but it may take ten or more positive interactions to challenge (on a subconscious level) the knee-jerk anti-gun viewpoints created by the media.
We must understand that people who have never held a gun are going to ask some very interesting questions. They simply don’t know anything about it.
A good representative will remain calm despite having media-driven buzz words thrown at them. They will answer the questions that they can and admit when they don’t know the answer. They will, if given the opportunity, happily take someone shooting with a .22 and ear muffs in a low-stress environment. If they don’t have the means or ability to get a new shooter safely started, they need to admit it and help arrange it with someone who does.
Posting on a gun forum like IllinoisCarry.com with a “need help introducing a first time shooter” thread or comment will garner a plethora of helpful people, usually at no or minimal cost.
Instructors need to talk about Illinois with optimism, educate their students about how to get involved, and stop making references to moving out of the state in classes.
The Firearms Community must start acting like goodwill ambassadors. We must choose to stay. We must charismatically and positively represent the Second Amendment, or soon, Illinois will become the dead weight dragging the Second Amendment into obscurity.
We have an opportunity with the new Firearms Concealed Carry License system to introduce new shooters and answer questions never before asked, let us choose to do so well.
About the author: Tim Giblin is a 7 year Veteran of the USMC, a Machine gun Squad leader and OEF veteran. He has 9 years teaching civilian pistol classes, 7 years as a NRA concealed carry instructor in Michigan, with over 3,000 hours of combined military and civilian instruction both concealed carry and carbine focused. USMC trained combat life saver training. He’s also the founder of Train Illinois.