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Young Guns


“Alright, Zach, I’m going to
take the headphones off you. I’ve already taken the gun. You can take the headset off and hand it to me. So what’d you think?” “That was very realistic.” “This is an interactive video. You affect the outcome of this video. So what you do causes different things to happen. For the purpose of this scenario, you’re a concealed carry permit holder. When you took the shot, what was
in front of you?” “A flash. And then the guy fell
down.” “Who else was standing there
besides the guy?” “The clerk.” “Was there anybody else?” “There was somebody with a cell
phone on the other side of the glass.” “Where were they at when you
shot him?” “They were probably pretty
close to right behind him weren’t they?” “They were directly behind them.” “Basically, even if you miss,
or even maybe if you hit the guy you want to hit, the guy behind
him could’ve taken that hit as well.” “Entirely possible.
Entirely possible.” “That’s supposed to simulate what is a real concern out there when it comes to concealed carry. That
somebody trying to be the good guy with the gun is going to end
up hitting a bystander, basically?” “That’s right. Because you’re
responsible for every bullet that leaves your
gun, no matter where it goes. Every day you’re standing in
line at the store waiting to get in line and that could happen.” This is what the gun industry
is preparing its customers for. A whole new generation of gun
owners are taking up arms to become “the good guy with a gun.” This has become a constant in
American life. “During this livestream of the
game, shots are clearly heard, and then shouts and screams as
people scramble to safety.” And there’s a narrative out there about how young Americans are responding. “The bottom line is these young
people holding all of their signs, they want
stricter gun laws.” But that’s only part of the
story about young Americans and guns. New
data collected for this report by a Newsy/Ipsos survey shows
millennials and Generation Z are buying just as many guns as
older Americans, and they’re actually much more likely to carry those guns on them at least once per month. According to our survey, that’s
especially true for young white men, who make up the vast majority
of young gun owners who carry. All this comes after a decade of huge growth in the number of
permits allowing people to carry concealed guns into public spaces, now four times higher than it was 2007. That’s the reality for a younger generation of gun owners: millennials. It’s a broad label. One that applies to basically all young adults up
to their mid-thirties. But across the gun industry,
manufacturers have found a winning strategy for this new
generation of consumers: Selling guns as part of a
culture of self defense. “Fear. Before you face it, you
have to crave it. So when it knocks on your door, you knock
right back.” “How has Smith & Wesson seen the
millennial market change in terms of their interest in
products like this?” “Oh you know, there’s a lot of interest in concealed carry right now.” “Newest trend for most new gun owners is going to be concealed
carry, personal protection.” “They want it lightweight to be
able to carry it and to be able to shoot it effectively.” “This is something that we built to cater to that market.
It’s small enough to conceal, and it’s
large enough so that shooting in extended training sessions
doesn’t hurt your hand too much, and the trigger’s pretty
lightweight.” “You know, that’s why we named the gun the EZ because this gun’s easy. Easy to load the magazine, easy to rack
the slide, and it’s easy to shoot.” “When it’s all closed up, just
pull this down and it’s ready to go. Double-barrel
Derringer, over under. All folded up it’s about the
same size as a Galaxy S7. The National Rifle
Association’s Annual Meeting is the biggest
yearly gathering for the world’s biggest gun lobby, drawing 800
exhibitors and more than 80,000 people, many of them carrying. “So the reason I carry is
just for self-defense.” “I carry for self protection.” “I carry because self defense
is a personal responsibility.” “I carry for my personal freedom,
and I also carry for my safety.” “I carry to protect myself and
my family, because there’s evil in the world. And if people have
a gun, I want to have a gun too.” “There’s bad people out there, and I’m not the biggest guy in the world.” “You never know when something
might happen, and I don’t want to be in a
situation that I can’t control.” “I think it’s extremely
important that everyone who can own a firearm
know how to do it so they can protect themselves and their loved ones.” “I feel more comfortable being
able to protect myself and my wife as well as anybody
who’s around me.” “So, self defense?” “Self defense.” “This is a Smith & Wesson compact 9mm. New York compliant unfortunately.” “I’ve been carrying now for going on two years. I carry a Glock .23.” “I noticed a sketchy character
following me, and so I just kind of adjusted
my backside, and it kind of showed a little bit, and he
backed off and left me alone.” “A lot of people say,
‘Aw, you’re being paranoid.’ You wear a seatbelt not because
you plan to crash but in case you crash, right? So, I carry a
firearm for the same reason. You know, in case something
happens, I don’t want to think ‘What could I have done?, or
‘What should I have done?’ ‘ I want to at least have a
chance to protect myself.” “The quickest way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” “If one person in this room had
been there with a gun, the terrorist would’ve fled or been shot.” “The voices of America’s
good guys with guns will be heard.” The NRA and the American
gun owner used to be all about hunting. “It’s a safe sport, so long as
we know what we’re doing.” But over the past few decades,
that’s changed. “The only way we
save our country and our freedom is to fight this violence of
lies with the clenched fist of truth.” As recently as 1999, hunting
was by far the number one reason
Americans owned guns. Today, two-thirds of gun owners
buy for self-defense. Over that same time, Americans’
perception of the violent crime rate has
stayed high. Even as the actual violent crime rate has fallen. Meaning Americans perceive
more danger than actually exists. Researchers have studied these trends for several years, looking at the impact of more Americans owning and carrying
guns for self-defense. One of the first studies came
from John Lott, an economist and gun rights advocate who says more concealed carry means less violent crime. But Lott’s work was debunked by
the nonpartisan National Research Council,
which, in 2004, found “no credible evidence”
right-to-carry laws had any impact on violent crime. And as more states allowed guns
in public spaces, more data became available. In the past
few years, researchers from Boston
University to here at Stanford have found the opposite effect:
more guns resulting in more violent crime and posing a
danger to gun owners themselves. “In the ’70s, relatively few
states permitted right to carry. And over time more and more
states have adopted these, so over this fairly long period of
time, the states were gradually adopting, and that gives us a
lot of ability to sort of tease out are things getting better or
getting worse in terms of violent crime after you adopt
the right-to-carry law. And what we found was the adopting states tended to have about 13 to 15 percent higher rates of violent
crime 10 years after adoption than the comparison states that
did not adopt right to carry.” “Some people would say, won’t
this just create more good guys with guns. What’s the response to that?” “Well, I do think most individuals are sort of good guys. There are a very small percentage of people who can use
them and have used them, but it is a very small percentage of
the time. The benefits of right to carry, while they do exist in a limited number of cases, the overall impact tends to show that the costs substantially outweigh the benefits. There are actually a number of
different pathways that I think right-to-carry laws
do lead to problems. When you think of all
of the episodes that could generate anger, the increase in
violent crime is what dominates. “A shocking and tragic case of road rage leaving a young family gunned down.” “A two-year-old boy got hold of a gun and shot a mother to death in a crowded store.” “The deputy does a backflip,
and then take a look at that. His gun falls right out of his
pants. When he grabs it, look there. See the fire? Yeah, he
accidentally shot somebody in the leg.” “So you’re always carrying something around that’s a danger to yourself and others for that very small likelihood
that you’re going to need that gun. And the cost-benefit
calculus just seems to be bad if your goal is to reduce the
overall number of violent crimes. There’s no question the
NRA really tries to encourage the idea that crime is out of
control and growing. They do have sort of a
financial interest in making it seem like the problem of crime is a growing and dangerous one, so you’d better be armed.” For more than a century, the NRA has been a champion for guns in American life. But even among gun owners, younger Americans are skeptical of the group. About half say the NRA is obstructing meaningful gun
control. And increasingly, young gun
owners have other pro-gun voices to turn to, especially on social media. “You go to YouTube? Where do you
go to learn more about this?” “YouTube’s the spot right now.
Military Arms Channel.” “You have to use one of these impressive weapons to fully appreciate the capabilities.” “James Yeager’s YouTube
channel.” “Iraq Veteran 8888.” “Wolverines!” “Demolition Ranch.” “I watched my first gun video. It was a NutNFancy video on a
Ruger 10/22 when I was like 11.” “This is the tabletop of the
10/22 by NutNFancy. There have been a lot of reviews on this gun. There’s probably a lot out there.” “That’s when I discovered guns on YouTube, and I’ve been watching them ever since.” “You remember the specific channel, when you were 11 years old?” “I do. Yep.” “It shaped how you view guns?” “Oh for sure. For sure. There’s people I’ve been watching for years, and they’ve completely shaped
the way I think about guns, gun safety, gun rights. Things like that.” One of the fastest growing channels in this gun-focused online video community is The Warrior Poet Society. “Where’s my sights? Where’s my sights? There they are! Clean them up.” “In just a couple years, it’s amassed an online audience in the hundreds of thousands, with ad revenue and merchandise, and with most viewers coming through YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook looking for lessons in self defense.” “John had started
with some videos in just the basement, and I was like, ‘Wait
a second, you have 15,000 Instagram followers with no type
of branding?’ Right away we saw unprecedented
growth. The industry is spiking right now, and we were able to trail that up.” “I had a message that I really wanted to communicate. And so that really just started me off on the journey of making videos. It turns out that there’s a whole lot of folks that are just normal people like you and me that would like to be
able to make some small steps to be able to defend theirs. And so
that’s what we tapped into. People really thirsted for
reality television, but that became so fake, that now all this social media stuff, it’s the new reality TV.” “What do your viewers come to
you looking for?” “The majority of them are looking
more in that defensive vein. How do I shoot fast and
accurate? There’s also the folks that are asking philosophy stuff.” “These are the questions that you think are central for anybody who is carrying a concealed carry license for example?” “Absolutely. Or they don’t know
to ask themselves. Are you ready to die? What would
you die for? What is worth dying for? Are you ready to kill someone? What is worth killing
over? Certainly not property. Here’s my car. Here’s my wallet.
Not that stuff. You have to have asked the harder philosophical
and theological question. Is there an afterlife? And that
may seem like, ‘What’s that have to do with
guns?’ Everything. Everything.” “How often are you carrying?” “Every moment I’m outside my house.” “All the time?” “Just about. Here’s my blaster. Surprise!” “Alright so let’s go through
the training simulator. This one’s called the smokeless range. When you draw a firearm, is it
appropriate to draw a firearm at all? Should it already be out? Should
it be in the holster? So, all those questions, the
simulator allows you to do.” “And we’ll run the scenario.” “Have a nice day, man. Thank you!” “Everybody get down! This is a
robbery. Give me your money!” “It’s real hard to just actually see and process, and then make a quick decision. The idea isn’t to shoot every
bad guy. The idea is to hey, real life, weird stuff happens,
and you got to be able to think quickly and see quickly and make
life and death decisions in a moment that you have to live with.” “So you want to go through one of these?” “Hey guys. Woah, gun. Hey guys, put it up.” “It doesn’t take a lot of
looking at the news to realize that the world is becoming a
more dangerous place. At least that’s my opinion, and I think that echoes a lot of the public sentiment as well. People are arming up.” The numbers show many of those Americans arming up are choosing to carry. And the millennials and Generation Z gun owners who’ve embraced concealed carry will shape the debate over guns in America for decades. So far, right-to-carry laws have
opened up state by state. But that could change soon.
Republicans in Congress are pushing a bill requiring all
states to honor a concealed carry permit issued in
any state. At the same time, the NRA’s influence on the president’s judicial appointments could set up the nation’s highest court for a landmark ruling on guns. “It’s possible that the Supreme
Court may say everyone has a constitutional right to carryguns, and you don’t even need a right to carry a permit, you can just do it as a matter
of constitutional right. So we’re in a moment of profound
potential change where almost every gun law in the country
that is restrictive could be struck down in a 5-4 decision of
the United States Supreme Court.”

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