The Owner vs The Operator
Written by: John Lewis
Being in firearm sales and instruction for over 20 years, I would like to offer a perspective that involves a very responsible inquiry of who are you? The owner or operator of a firearm?
I have taken every chance I get to educate my audience over the gun counter how we must maintain a higher standard of responsibility being a gun operator, that once we possess a firearm we must understand its nomenclature, its purpose, its history in this and many other countries, and how it has accounted for maintaining our freedom through our many years of existence.
The engagement of the potential gun buyer is an interview that can reveal some real truths very quickly about the customer in front of you. Hello, is there anything I can show you or help you with? Uh, yes. I am on the road quite often and I am concerned about my wife at home without a way to defend herself. What would you suggest? Well, you could change your job so you could be home with your wife and physically protect her or call the police if you are physically unable or you could bring her with you so I could have her hand to fit it adequately to a handgun and make sure her dominant strong hand would have the ability to function all the controls of that firearm without struggling to reach for the trigger or any controls. As stuck up as this answer sounds, it is. I am just having fun with you the reader of this fine account of my days of professionalism. We are more likely to have the following scenario occur daily in a gun shop- The customer asks to see “ that one” and we retrieve it from the counter and open the action and clear the cylinder or slide, remove the magazine and maintain a safe muzzle direction in order for the customer to observe that we are leading by example and would be very appreciative of the same common courtesy to inspect the gun and we did when it makes it into their hands. There seems to be a 98% failure rate with this expectation of the customer. We hand it over, the muzzle immediately is pointed at us and their trigger finger is ON THE TRIGGER!
I would not mind teaching a class on how to shop for a new handgun, and spare us from the daily muzzle, the daily trigger finger, the daily pull the trigger, the daily spin the cylinder back in the frame, the daily locked slide on an empty magazine, the daily thumb behind the slide or hammer of a semi-auto, and the daily one liner that usually goes something like this- Does this shoot real bullets? All of these are compromised positions of uneducated potential gun operators. What happens when these things happen away from an educated professional and then a tragedy occurs? There is a 2-way street in gun handling- The first is knowing your firearm and how to protect yourself from your own gun- and then once you know your gun in every way possible through professional instruction, you can begin a journey down the second street to self defense protection which takes a mindset far from pre-occupation, fear and weakness and turns to a pre-determined response, an utmost confidence level, and a willingness to train, train and train some more.
So what is the difference between a gun owner and operator? That’s a loaded question! (no pun intended) (remember, it is always loaded)
My personal definition of a gun owner is someone from any walk of life man or woman age 21 to ?, who owns a firearm and has it hidden somewhere in their home- generally in the nightstand, under the mattress, under the entire bed or high up on that closet shelf. A gun owner may take time to come to a gun shop and find out what is necessary for purchase, and then go through with it, take delivery of it and then it becomes a piece of furniture or a fixture in their home. The instruction manual never cracked open, the gun itself: never loaded, never cleaned, never exposed to training, just a possible valuable object that will more than likely be stolen and in the hands of thief who will commit a single crime with it, possibly killing someone, forever leaving that gun owner wondering what he or she could have done differently. But then, they decide not to replace that gun that has been used in a crime because they see the negative consequence and not the potential positive that firearm could have created if there would have been any thought to becoming a responsible firearm operator. There are hundreds, thousands of gun owners in this country.
So if you categorize yourself as a gun owner- please recognize the differences you share with a gun operator. The proper definition of a gun operator is someone who approaches the gun counter who is not over confident but pleasing to engage and asks a question that commonly sounds like this: I am in the market for a striker fired polymer frame concealment handgun that I can add to my CCW permit. I currently train and carry a Smith & Wesson 442 and I have a Kimber Ultra Raptor 1911 that I maintain as my main carry but I would like something lower maintenance than my 1911- Ahhhh- the joys of engaging a fellow OPERATOR! Someone who speaks our language- verbiage that gets the attention of those who know- who get educated whether by manufacturers websites, forums, blogs, formal weapon training schools, or our professional sales staff- you too can become a gun operator if you have the drive to become a gun-savvy individual willing to say- I know nothing, I come humbled and eager to be trained, mold me and make be the best Operator I can be!!! Amen! Over my 20 year career, I have enabled many to become operators by offering my experience, knowledge and skill to enter their eager, trusting hearts. A potential operator comes to the table with that internal eagerness to learn all he or she can about gun craft and its benefits as a defense tool. When an operator takes delivery of a weapon, they are generally already enrolled in a basic firearm class covering the entry level fundamentals to get them started.
The operator gets the firearm home and opens the box to find manufacturers directions of operating their firearm. An operator will take the time to educate themselves with every resource they can in order to avoid mishaps or malfunctions. An operator is cautious, thorough, analytical, decisive and forever trainable.
Strive to be an Operator!