The following story demonstrates how valuable positive interactions with non-shooters can be. This true story was shared with us by Iowa Firearms Coalition member Jon Michael Van Wyk. It’s almost too easy to just write off anyone that doesn’t see exactly eye to eye with us. But often gun control supporters fear of guns – and their fear of gun owners – is born out of ignorance. Ignorance about handling guns. Ignorance about gun safety. Ignorance about all the positive experiences that so many of us enjoy on a regular basis.

If you ever have an opportunity to take a non-shooter shooting, please make every effort take them. It will likely be one of the very best things you can do to help our cause. In the battle to protect and enhance our 2nd Amendment rights providing non-gun owners with positive firearms experiences is one of our best tools. If non-shooters have good memories of shooting and of gun owners, odds are they’ll think twice before joining the ranks of gun-control zealots.

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Firearms: A Mother’s Journey From Fear To Respect

Jon Michael Van Wyk – Iowa Firearms Coalition member

Ignorance breeds fear, and people fear what they do not understand. Rather than condescend to those who espouse an irrational fear of firearms, we need to make an effort to educate them so that they fear guns no longer.

My mother’s stepfather went to prison for a gun related homicide when she was a child. Her opinion on firearms was painted with that experience into late adulthood. In spite of her fear of firearms, my mother never prevented our family from owning firearms. I had a .22 Marlin when I was 14 years old (or was it 12), and my father owned a .22 High Standard for as long as I could remember. Although silent about them, mother was also very nervous in their regard.

As I grew into adulthood, various pistol and rifle names entered our lexicon, and while my mother never voiced an opinion in opposition, her nervous demeanor grew. There was a sort of an unwritten “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in our home on the topic of firearms. Firearms were always out of sight from my mother.

One Christmas several years ago, my mother agreed to pay for half of a .40 Walther P99 for my father. He was deeply moved, though my mother was far from “hands on” with the transaction. Be that as it may, it was a big step for her. Then two years ago, at the height of Obama’s threats for draconian changes to our nation’s gun laws, my mother shocked us all. She asked for a pistol for Christmas. We all nearly fell off our proverbial chairs.

Tasked with finding an appropriate concealed carry pistol that would provide her with a positive shooting experience, we got her a 9mm Beretta Nano. It took another nine months before she would go to the range. While my mother was clearly nervous about holding her pistol for the first time, she also seemed equally curious.

We must have spent at least an hour providing proper instruction on all of the safety rules, how to hold her pistol, dry firing to get a feel for the weight of the trigger, and how to deal with any failures that may occur. There were two other families at the pistol range while we provided mother with her briefing. The attached image shows the results of her the first magazine she cycled through her Nano. Remarkably, her aim was steady and her accuracy on par with an experienced shooter.

At the conclusion of my mother’s first range day, we did a proper debriefing to learn if this would also be her last range day. We were happy to learn that she had a very positive experience. The following were her takeaways:

1) Everyone at the range (half of whom we did not know) was courteous, safety conscious, and communicated effectively in the name of safety. She found this very comforting.

2) Those playing the role of her instructors were patient, even-tempered, and were always in control while emphasizing and reiterating the safety rules.

3) Possessing and shooting a firearm was, in effect, “demystified”. While she is still cautious around firearms, her caution comes from a position of understanding she is a novice that needs more practice. Fear has been replaced with respect.

4) Although she has now obtained her permit to carry weapons, she is not yet comfortable doing so until she gains a level of proficiency that will help ensure proper employment of her pistol under stressful life threatening circumstances.


Iowa Firearms Coalition is an entirely volunteer, grassroots, 2nd Amendment advocacy group. Responsible for bringing uniformity to Iowa’s Concealed Weapons Permitting process, IFC’s members work to protect and enhance 2nd Amendment rights in Iowa. An affiliate of the National Rifle Association, the IFC actively seeks to foster and promote the shooting sports. Sign up for our email list for the latest on 2nd Amendment issues in Iowa. You can support our work by becoming a member, or making a donation.