In this episode of the Everyday Marksman, I’m talking to Alex Sansone, better known as The Suited Shootist and operator of the blog and YouTube channel under the same name. Alex is a bit different than most of the other guests I’ve had on the show because he doesn’t have the same military or high-level competition background as others. He’s a regular citizen who happens to care about protecting himself and his family while looking good doing it.
In all honesty, Alex and I talked for well over an hour in an interesting conversation that wandered over several topics. I ended up editing it down to twenty minutes of focused discussion on the topic of appearance and dressing well.
Alex grew up with a fairly average middle class childhood and then went to school in New Orleans. He started working at a large gun shop after college and then broke into the sales side of the business world. This was his introduction to having to dress professionally. Learning to dress well came after meeting his future wife.
The main takeaways from this episode are three things:
- We shouldn’t expect new gun owners to upend their lives in order to “fit in”
- Fit matters, both in terms of style and also standing out to those who know what to look for
- We need to be mindful of how our appearance, both physical and sartorial affect how we are perceived in public
Not Dressing Around the Gun
The most important point Alex made during this episode is that the phrase “dress around the gun” is false. While wearing clothes that work well for concealed carry are important, it is too often taken to mean that we should look sloppy.
In the real world, looking sloppy is often an unacceptable outcome. It hurts our personal and professional opportunities, and can even draw unwanted attention from those who are trained to look for it.
It also causes a dilemma for new gun owners. Most people getting involved in gun ownership already have 20, 30, 40, or more years of life under their belts before they made the commitment to buy the gun. That means they have decades of habits and styles that they’ve already adopted.
If we go to this group of people and tell them that they aren’t really “in it” until they change their personal style or behaviors, then we’re only working to push them away.
Personally, in this politically charged environment, I would rather expand our tent than kick people out of it for not conforming to an imaginary standard.
The Big Takeaway
During this interview, a comment stood out to me during editing that I think bears writing down.
To “normalize” gun culture for everyone, not just the select few hardcore among us, we have to think about the role of the gun in our lives differently. Too many gun people base their identity on the act of owning and carrying guns. They wrap their lives around the gun.
However, I think the vast majority of people are far better served with an attitude focused on finding a way to fit the gun into their existing lifestyle. This is how we make it easier and more attractive to participate.
Maybe I’m wrong. Tell me what you think.