You’re a Second Amendment supporter and a proud gun owner, right? Depending on how and where you live, the extent to which gun ownership impacts your daily life can range from very minor to absolutely integral. Wherever you fall on that spectrum, you should be proud that you’ve made the choice to protect yourself with a firearm—but even those of us in the “integral” category might have our reasons to keep our gun-related lifestyle on the downlow.
Which raises an interesting question: Is it better to be loud and proud about gun ownership or take a more subtle Gray Man approach?
The Gray Man
“Gray Man” is a colloquial term for someone who blends into the crowd, moving through life unnoticed, almost invisible. It’s used in the context of action movies to describe the tough “everyman” Ordinary-Joe-turned-black-ops-type hero, but the tactical community looks at it as a way to live life without attracting attention to oneself, particularly as it applies to gun ownership and/or disaster prepping. The Gray Man hides in plain sight.
What does life as a Gray Man look like? Well, you carry concealed, for one thing. You dress in an ordinary, maybe even boring fashion, not drawing attention to yourself with wild prints (hello, Hawaiian shirts), out-of-place clothing or t-shirts sporting the logos of your favorite firearms company or 2A slogan. You try to be discreet when loading guns into your car or truck to head to the range, and your vehicle displays no 2A bumper stickers, gun logos or NRA stickers. You keep your political opinions relatively quiet and don’t put political signs in your yard. In short, you try to look like everyone else, but more boring, so you go unnoticed. If you were to peek at the Gray Man’s social media (if he even has it), you’d see no photos of guns, no hunting pictures and no political commentary.
The Gray Man isn’t ashamed of his (or her) firearm ownership—in fact, he’s probably among the most ardent supporters of the Second Amendment out there and takes these issues very seriously. He just considers it wise to keep his lifestyle to himself, especially if he believes his community will ever be in an emergency scenario. The last thing the Gray Man wants is to be the guy everyone in the neighborhood runs to during a long-term emergency because they know his house has food and guns.
Loud and Proud
At the opposite extreme is the loud-and-proud gun owner. This girl’s truck is covered in NRA, Ducks Unlimited and Browning logos. She carries a gun and might do so openly if it’s legal in her area. She loves a good Grunt Style or Smith & Wesson t-shirt and sometimes wears range pants to the grocery store. She might stick political signs in her front yard, engage in political debate in person and on social media, and let everyone know who she’s voting for. Everyone who knows the loud-and-proud girl knows she’s a gun owner, and she likes it that way.
Obviously, this gun owner isn’t ashamed of her support for the Second Amendment, either. She might even be politically active, working on behalf of the rest of us to loosen unconstitutional restrictions or otherwise support the right to keep and bear arms. Certainly, the community needs people like this.
Which Is Right for You?
Both lifestyles have their pros and cons. The Gray Man types will say the loud-and-proud gun owners are the first to be targeted in a shooting or in an emergency situation. That might be true. Almost definitely, the loud-and-proud gun girl is going to find a host of people on her doorstep in an apocalyptic situation, because many of them aren’t prepared and they know that she is. I’m not entirely convinced this is a bad thing, though. Is being a leader and helping those who need it really such a negative? On the other hand, the loud-and-proud gun owners say the Gray Man is doing nothing to help the larger gun community and stand up for our 2A rights. They’re not wrong, but you can hardly fault him for making this choice that boils down to just wanting to be left alone. That’s a very pro-freedom, pro-liberty stance at heart.
As for me, I’m firmly in the “guns are integral to my life” category discussed above. Having grown up with firearms and hunting, I consider gun ownership and support of 2A issues (and by extension, freedom itself) to be a part of my identity; I even make my living in the gun industry. I’m a gun girl and we’re a gun family, and very proud to be so.
However, if you were to meet me in a non-work, non-shooting context, you probably wouldn’t label me a gun person right off the bat. I take a middle ground approach to the Gray Man debate. I don’t have stickers on my car, I don’t open carry and I don’t wear gun-related t-shirts in places where I’ll be around people I don’t know. I do post gun and hunting photos on my social media, which is all set to private. Our neighbors definitely see us loading gun cases, boxes of ammo and shooting carts into the truck on a regular basis, and we share wild game meat with some of them. My house is full of taxidermy, so anyone from my kid’s friends to the electrician knows what’s up when they walk inside. I don’t go out of my way to hide the things that are important to me, but I don’t overtly advertise it, either.
Most of you will probably fall somewhere in the middle of the Gray Man vs. Loud and Proud debate, too. Whatever’s right for you and your family is the best choice—both options and everything in between are valid and reasonable, and you can be a smart, proud gun owner either way.