I don't really give a crap what people think. I love my .22s and I'm always looking to get more. I had a Remington 870...sold it. I had a M&P 9mm...sold it. I just didn't have fun with those. I also have a sporterized Mosin 91/30 which I have a blast with. Point being, I don't give a rat's butt what others think, I shoot to have fun, if I'm not having fun out at the range something is wrong. I get a kick out of seeing those guys at the range that have their AR15, 1911 or Glocks, but can't shoot worth a crap. They buy these guns because they see them on tv or because they hear that only a .45 will stop a bad guy so they need this for their HD weapon. Yet, they don't even know how to handle their own weapon. I can't tell you how many people I made blush because they see me with my 22s, we start talking, they let me shoot their nice big gun and I end up outshooting them with their own weapon. You're right, there is a stigma that .22 owners are somehow "beginners" or guys who can't handle a "real gun".
This is a great sport/hobby/pastime, and I'm glad in a way that this market is booming and I see new shooters everyday...but there are some dumbasses out there who shouldn't be allowed to buy a gun. These beginner shooters who bypass the .22 and never learn to shoot properly and jump straight away to the shiny Kimber 1911 and Glocks. So I say let them look, let them think they are better, but when it comes down to it we all know who the idiots are.