By Greg Jackson
If you are looking for an issue that everyday-Democrats and everyday-Republicans may agree on, I believe you will be very surprised with what you find. Neither education nor health care fits the bill, and though employment may be a logical commonality, it is not the shocking area I believe you will find.
If you are not seated, now may be a good time to find a place to land as I reveal to you my belief that gun ownership is an area that Democrats and Republicans have more in common than most people can imagine. The way I came to this conclusion is through my participation in the primitive investigative technique of asking the folks I encountered at a local gun shop in Apopka their position in this regard. As brief background, after months and months of watching and hearing news reports about the number of home invasions, carjackings, violent assaults, etc., taking place not just in Central Florida, but across the nation, on citizens and law enforcement, I felt it was time to add to my home and personal defense system.
With all of this in mind, I strolled into the Shoot Straight in Apopka and upon entering was pleasantly surprised at the clientele. At the counters, I saw individuals of diverse demographics being educated on the various firearms on display. As I made my way towards the back of the establishment, I peered through the windows and saw individuals of diverse demographics standing side-by-side in the indoor pistol and rifle ranges improving their marksmanship and understanding of their respective firearms. As I stood inspecting the gun safes, I saw individuals of diverse demographics coming out of the back classroom area after receiving training on firearms use and safety to obtain their concealed weapons licenses or to just be more responsible gun owners.
Intrigued by this encounter, after purchasing a few new firearms and obtaining a membership to the range, I sparked a conversation with several of the patrons and my suspicions were confirmed: there were nearly an equal number of Democrats and Republicans in the place, and each were in favor of gun ownership. Since that time, I have become a weekly visitor at the Shoot Straight range in Apopka and my inquiries and conversations regarding the common interest in gun ownership have remained constant; so has my findings that Democrats and Republicans are in favor of gun ownership for lawful purposes.
If you ask me the reason for this, I will tell you that above all else, we as human beings want to feel safe, as well as protect those we love. With the reckless abandon of criminals who believe they can victimize law-abiding citizens in their homes, vehicles or any place deemed at “soft-area,” citizens, such as myself, just want a fighting chance to survive. While law enforcement does an admirable job of keeping communities safe, they cannot realistically be in all places at all times; I know this, you know this and most certainly criminals know this. As such, Democrats and Republicans can work together to promote responsible gun ownership, training and use. This common agenda will lead to safer communities, as well as to other opportunities to find commonalities and ways to work together – in my humble opinion.
Greg Jackson is a former Assistant Attorney General for the State of Florida, a military veteran, current Orange County District 2 Representative on the Board of Zoning Adjustments, and General Counsel for the Community Redevelopment Agency. He has been as an active member of the Central Florida community for nearly 20 years. He was most recently a candidate for the Florida House District 45 seat.