We have all seen political cartoons, TV shows, movies and advertisements that portray the "average American gun owner." Usually a southerner or low intelligence or a conspiracy theorist claiming the government is watching his thoughts through a microwave, or maybe a militant criminal or psychopath but how true is that representation? Sure people like that do exist, but they are far from average.
Many who oppose guns would have people believe that those who own guns are crazy, of low intellect, or "bad" in some way, but the fact is that is simply untrue. You may be surprised to find out how many people you know own guns. It could be your boss at work, the little old lady next door, the owner of your favorite local restaurant, simply the people you see every day. The average gun owner is typically the average American. There is an estimated 270 million legally owned guns owned by civilians in the United States of America. Given that there are 315 million citizens in the US according the the census, there are nearly as many guns as residents.
So why make it seem that only crazy people own guns? Well there are many reasons that may be given. You could argue that the anti-gun lobby wants this belief to spread to increase their pull, or maybe that the media makes it seem this way to push political opinion. One big reason is simple misinformation. It may or may not be intentional, but many people who do not own guns simply do not know any better.
With incidents like Sandy Hook, Aurora, and other tragic mass shootings, its easy for emotions to run high. While this is a natural reaction to tragic loss, we must remember that decision making skills tend to be impaired when we let emotion overrule logic. When we see horrible atrocities committed, we can be quick to jump to extreme measures. Its easy to begin demonizing the things and people in the wake of such an event because we as humans tend to have a need for an explanation. The sad truth is this often leads to false explanations that are not based in factual reality.
When you look at most people who own guns, they are typically no different than those who do not. They have families, jobs, and hobbies. They want to make their lives better, be able to provide for their loved ones, live safe and comfortable lives. Some may own guns for hunting, others for protection, maybe just to go out to the range from time to time, the reasons are as varied as the owners. To claim that a gun owner is crazy or unintelligent is no different than claiming anyone who owns a car capable of high speed is reckless and has a lead foot.
The truth about gun owners is simple, they are no different than anyone else. They vary from person to person, there are millions of them who don't fit the stereotypes placed on them. They come from all backgrounds, income levels, colors, religions, and genders. They are people just like you. To say all gun owners fall into a certain stereotype is no different than saying all women are the same, or that everyone who follows a certain faith is the same. So remember stereotyping gun owners is no different than stereotyping any other group of people because like any other group, they are a very varied bunch.