By Mike Sherman
We have been writing about guns for several weeks now – the pros and cons of personal protection while traveling. Editor Chuck Woodbury has discussed gun-related matters, having focused on the issue of guns for sale in an RV magazine. And then there is the anger topic brought up recently: “What has happened to us that we are so angry?” Chuck talked about that back on March 30th. I thought it would be a good idea to take a closer look because I see a connection between the topics and your safety and security.
It is not difficult to see why Chuck’s observations sparked heated comments when he expressed his surprise at seeing weapons for sale in a Good Sam catalog. I guess a comparison would be entering Disneyland, and the very first concession for visitors is a beer booth. He was caught off guard, it was unexpected, just as beer being sold in Disneyland would catch us by surprise. As he declared right out of the gate: “First, no matter what your feelings about firearms – please understand that this story is not pro- or anti-gun.” I have re-read his opinion, and I don’t see any anti-gun stance. Anger at mass shootings, of course. But no call to outlaw guns. When Chuck asked me to write a weekly article centering on safety and security, he knew he was talking to a retired cop, and the articles would probably be pro-gun. If he was anti-gun, I doubt he would have called me.
Having followed this weekly newsletter for 25+ years now, I have seen the progression towards what some readers call “negative” articles. Some claim the articles are getting more and more downright depressing. What I have seen is Chuck writing about the trends in the RV industry. The level of honesty is simply pointing out the obvious: The RV lifestyle is in fact leaning towards a more negative experience for many RV owners, especially the old-timers.
Part of the problem is having history: If you are used to rolling into a campground and getting a nice site at will, then you know those days are evaporating. That’s not Chuck’s fault; It’s just a fact. If you are relatively new to this lifestyle, I can certainly understand why you might be a little discouraged reading negative articles. Factor in shady RV construction practices and the issue bubbles to the surface. It gets a lot of attention, and it should.
When we were kids it was tents in state parks. Running water at communal spigots was about as fancy as it got, except some did have showers. That was back in the ’50s. As the years clicked by, recreational vehicles started to become popular. Cute little things – 12′-18′ long. Imagine the joy at having your very own toilet!
Then they got bigger, and loaded with amenities that equal a high-end condo. When they went really BIG with slideouts, consumers started complaining that their campsite was too small, forgetting they were built for tents and small RVs, many years ago. So this weekly newsletter brings these changes into focus, and some blame the author for the growing negative aspects of RVing over what it used to be like.
Chuck has examined trends, brought forth products, and introduced us to experts in the industry that have been a blessing to those seeking improvements in their RV experience, be it for a weekend or 24/7/365. I have learned a lot about tires and water pressure and holding tank odors, and the list goes on and on. I’ve been able to purchase useful products at good prices (a digital thermometer, tire pressure gauge and water pressure gauge come to mind). The weekly newsletter has actually enhanced my RV experience.
Therefore I believe Chuck deserves a break on this gun thing. The good generated by his printed creation far exceeds any negatives, regardless of the topic. First Amendment benefits in full service here – that’s for sure – as he provides the forum for your input and opinion. He has opened doors for education and discussion, evidenced by the folks who responded to some of the gun issues I have addressed in past editions. I learn something new every Saturday. The readers are not a bunch of idiots: They are obviously educated and well-informed for the most part.
So you may be wondering what is the connection I mentioned at the beginning. How does all this factor into your safety and security? Well, you learned about options and opinions that you may not have been aware of last month, or last year. Guns and anger are connected when you think about it. There are crazy people out there angry at the world, or just plain evil or mentally deranged. All too often they surface, and create a little bit of hell on earth.
Through the opinions and polls in this newsletter, you have learned that anger, danger and fear are NOT a normal, routine part of the RV lifestyle. I would venture to say you are safer camping in a questionable “communal” campground for a night or two while traveling than you are living in parts of Chicago, for instance.
Nevertheless, there are dangers out there, no matter where you camp. Obviously, I endorse responsible gun ownership. Too many criminals out there are repeat offenders, released by a court system that has gone soft. Throw in the drug use influencing their actions and you have mayhem that shocks the consciousness of America. If for no other reason, I arm myself due to the ugly chemicals flowing through the veins of parolees.
Fortunately, my background, training and experience helps me sleep at night. I hope Chuck’s newsletter gives you insight and information that helps YOU sleep well at night. He and his staff are providing a valuable service to the RVing community.
Note: We know what we discuss in this column may be controversial. While we invite your polite, constructive comments, inflammatory remarks will be immediately deleted.
Mike Sherman is a retired street cop and investigator with 30+ years of RV experience as a traveler, camp host and all-around advocate for the joys of living on the road. His articles are for general discussion purposes only – you should always consult your local authorities or legal counsel for specific answers if necessary. Write him at MikeShermanPI@gmail.com if you have questions, or leave a comment below.