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What Happens When a Coastal Elite Visits America

It’s always funny when they find America, which you know, has a lower violent crime rate than California, and doesn’t see guns as some kind of demonic curse in sorry need of an exorcism:

He went on to say I could buy as many of them as I wanted and walk out with my arsenal today. “These guns have helped our industry tremendously,” he said. “They’ve attracted a whole new generation…. Is there one you want to try?” He brought down a Colt AR15-A3 tactical carbine, slammed in an empty magazine, and handed it to me. It felt disappointingly fake, an awesome water pistol, perhaps, or a Halloween prop. I asked if I would need to tell him why I wanted to buy a gun like that or what I intended to do with it. He squinted and smiled and appeared politely speechless. “Would you have to do what, now?” he asked.

I’m not big on slamming magazines into a gun in a shop for effect, I’ll be honest.

“I have six handguns—bought five of them here,” an old man said to me. I was waiting for Ron, who’d gone to the back room to find a gun he thought I might like. “I have five rifles, got all of them here,” the man said. “I spend most of my time reloading shells. All my friends are dead.” He had thin white hair and a long, sagging face dotted with age spots. “Do you know what the biggest problem with divorce is? It’s the bedroom. And a lot of it’s the man’s fault. Like a damn rabbit, on and off.”

It felt like we should have had rocking chairs, perhaps a set of checkers between us. This was one of the things I liked most about Sprague’s: the general-store feel. Groups would form, strangers becoming neighbors, sharing stories. “I lost my wife in November,” the man said. “Sixty years. Now my kids keep trying to get me to go live with them in California. My doctor said, ‘What’s your lifestyle?’ I told him guns. He said, ‘Stay in Yuma.’ “

I guess it’s a bit late for Markey’s Law Monday, but it’s still Monday out on the west coast. You have to love it when they are subtle about suggesting interest in guns is a sexual dysfunction.

“I just got that same Smith for my kid,” he said.

I looked at him. He appeared far too young to have a grown son.

“Wait, how old is your kid?” I asked.

“Six,” he said.

Yeah, buying a .22 for a kid. The horror.

Richard Sprague, the owner of Sprague’s Sports, is a slender man in his fifties with a tapered face, coarse graying hair, and an easy smile. Other Arizona gun stores would not even entertain my request to visit and ask questions about selling guns and ammunition, but Richard without hesitation invited me to spend as much time as I wanted at Sprague’s—behind the counter, in the back room, at the shooting range, anywhere I wished.

The other Arizona gun stores were smarter. I really wish gun shops would understand there is not much good that can come of speaking with reporters. I am definitely a fan of engagement, but there’s very little the media is going to report about several days in a gun shop that’s not going to end up being twisted like this horror. These people hate you. You don’t have to explain yourself. They are the barbarians, not you. If a reporter seems to try to want to understand you, the best defense is to walk away, because it’s probably a set-up. These people are not at all to be trusted.

The vampires among journalists will always feed to the greatest satisfaction off ordinary, good people, who honestly just want to talk and be understood. Don’t be tempted. They are out to get you. I think what bothers me the most is that this reporter is from Pennsylvania, which is still, last I checked, part of America when it comes to mostly respecting the 2nd Amendment. I grew up not 50 miles from where I live now, about 5 miles outside of Philadelphia, and I knew people who hunted, did target shooting, and carried guns for self-defense. Some of them I called family. It was not a novel or unusual concept for me. So I really have to wonder, if this reporter is from Pennsylvania, where exactly she’s from, because clearly she hasn’t seen much of her own state.

UPDATE: Someone pointed out the reporter was a woman, so the article has been updated accordingly.

23 Responses to “What Happens When a Coastal Elite Visits America”

  1. St Mark says:

    “I looked at him. He appeared far too young to have a grown son.”

    There’s so much hidden double speak venom in the article it makes my head hurt.

    “I didn’t really want to buy an assault rifle, or even a handgun.”

    News flash Mr Cheesey reporter, you can’t buy an “assault rifle.”

  2. Roberta X says:

    News flash: “Mr. Cheesy Reporter” is named Jeanne Marie. Cultural roles being what they still are, one expects a slight bit more “ew, icky” from a Jeanne Marie than a James Mark.

    …Unless she’s a geekgrrl, and odds are that one ain’t. OTOH, consider, she’s supposedly gonna be getting a Glock transferred at $LOCAL_PA_GUNSTORE, so it ain’t a total loss.

    Though I do wonder how the GQ readership sorts out into “Ew, ick” and “Silly woman still doesn’t understand about guns” reactions.

  3. David says:

    So the author lives in PA and claims guns are rare? Really? PA has one of the highest rates of CCW issuance and we have the greatest percentage of hunters. In a good chunk of the state, schools are closed for the first day of deer season.

  4. alcade says:

    These people are not at all to be trusted.

    I do agree with you there, but to be fair, someone might have said that once about Emily Miller.

    • Harold says:

      She’s with the Washington Times, so any local would know they had a much better chance of getting fair treatment from her.

    • Sebastian says:

      The default assumption, if you’re a gun shop owner, and are approached by a reporter working on a story, should not be trust.

      • Maria says:

        That’s a bit sad though. We can’t become too insular because of the “well what are you trying to hide” effect. All employees at gun stores should be trained to handle media. Hell, everyone should brush up on how to handle media.

        Maybe treat all reporters like a combination of lawyers and/or strange unknown dogs? Handle with care, palms open, and expect every minute to cost you a lot.

        • Sebastian says:

          Ordinarily, I’d agree with you, but I’ve yet to see any good stories come from a hostile reporter hanging around a gun shop. Everyone knows some gun shop customers are pieces of work. Just ask Tam, who spent a number of years working behind the counter, and knows some of the types.

          • Maria says:

            Good point. It’s like having your entire family judged in the light of the one unpleasant uncle who routinely bellows drunkenly about “them irish/mexicans/blacks” while slapping the waitress on the ass and belittling the underage stock boy’s manliness. Just for example.

  5. RetMSgt says:

    The article’s author may currently reside in Pennsylvania, but is probably a transplanted New Yorker, with the typical New York attitude. The trouble is, when they relocate to Pennsylvania they try to inflict their opinions on Pennsylvanians.

  6. Harold says:

    I’m not big on slamming magazines into a gun in a shop for effect, I’ll be honest.

    I really wonder about your believing the reporter’s characterization of exactly what happened right then in a posting like this….

    • Joel C says:

      Good point, and no kiddin’!

      Consider…

      “I rented an Uzi, fully automatic.”

      Really? Sprague’s has a rental Uzi? I’ve never been there, don’t know if they do or don’t, but could anyone confirm this?

      “I chose the male zombie. … I aimed for his left eyeball and pulled the trigger. The patter of thirty-two bullets lasted maybe three seconds, and then the eyeball was gone.”

      She claims to empty a 32 round magazine in three seconds in an indoor range and describes the sound as “the patter”.

      Hmmm. Does Sprague’s rent that Uzi with a silencer? Again, I don’t know, but for some reason I’m just not feeling inclined to take Miss Laska’s word on it. Can anybody clarify?

      “…and then the eyeball was gone.”

      So she picks up and fires a sub-machine gun for the first time in her life and would have us believe she hit what she aimed at while dumping the full mag in 3 seconds.

      Well, maybe. Me, I’m just all full of doubt.

      • Jon says:

        ““I rented an Uzi, fully automatic.”
        Really? Sprague’s has a rental Uzi? I’ve never been there, don’t know if they do or don’t, but could anyone confirm this?”

        I’ve been there and they do. It’s a nice shop.

        • Joel C says:

          Cool. Thanks for responding. Guess I gotta give her a little more benefit of the doubt then.

  7. Patrick says:

    For those living on the coasts, this reinforces some stereotypes but will be mostly viewed as pro-gun. I know that’s hard to believe, but it does something the liberal media normally does not do: present the argument on the other side of the gun rights issue with some details.

    Yes, she dishes out scorn at some ideas (“who are we worried are going to invade us, again?”) and reinforces some redneck stereotypes (the guy with the Sig is not someone I want to even know)…but she also (mostly) correctly described the attitude of self-reliance that causes gun people to be gun people. She also correctly identified the absolute biggest difference between us and “them” – the fact that the elites expect government to take care of them, where we expect we will take care of ourselves. It wasn’t delivered with spasms of horror, but a matter-of-fact description of the mindset of people who expect to take care of ourselves. That is huge – when is the last time MSNBC did the same?

    There is some elitist hate in here. She cannot help it. She’s from an urban elitist society and she looks down on the people of Yuma, whether they be gun owners, farmers, or country line dancers. It’s basic tribalism.

    But the story begins with the elitist liberal showing up in gun country – spending days a a time in a gun store – to do a story on “those people”, but eventually she ends up getting to a point where she openly admits to using the gun range as a place to blow off some steam. That wasn’t an experiment. She did it of her own volition.

    She bought a Glock, and will apparently get a CCW and carry in PA with it (sometimes, maybe). That part might be described as an experiment, but if she realistically takes that home and starts carrying in Philly…well, we know where that ends.

    I don’t think we can win over media overnight. Nor can we “convert” people in one sitting. Or even three. It takes one step at a time, and letting them slide into a new form of “normal”. Once they learn they can remain liberals and still favor gun-rights, they will be more comfortable with the things they have learned. It may take a while, but I believe many of these folks will slowly come closer to our side than the other.

    I don’t think we’re going to see her kind pushing for Constitutional Carry, but we now got a liberal author who now has a carry permit and realistically knows more about guns than most rural farmboys (full auto, AKs, etc.). I cannot help but think that will end up a good thing.

    • Maria says:

      Yeah. That’s a bit the impression I got. Despite her sarcasm, prejudgment, exaggeration, overheard sound bite quotes and the whole looking down upon others who are different undercurrent, she actually ends up having a few positive things to say about her experience and I suspect she left a bit rattled from her 100% certainty in how the world works.

      To me it reads like she had a minor shift in perception, one that she wanted to have but never had an excuse to try. Now she has an excuse if her friends back home question her sanity “It’s for my job” Because that’s also on other undercurrent in her article. Insanity. And a fear of it more then the guns themselves.

      The default assumption is that the other side is insane. It seems that after her short experience this pat answer is nagging at her nowt. There’s the hint of a thought, that if all we have left is “you’re crazy” then we’re all going to have a tough time. Maybe she’ll follow up on that idea … Maybe not.

      I kept thinking about neighbors. You have this crazy family living next door. One day you go over with a pie, figuring if you just confronted the crazy, you’d understand it and find acceptance. Then you discover that all this time they think you’re the crazy family. The more you try to explain yourself, the crazier you sound, and if you stay long enough, you probably will be.

      Most people really are decent and if they spend some time around the “others” they grow to see common traits. If she is a good writer and not just out to push her own opinion and get promoted she’ll be back and she’ll explore what obviously intrigues her.

      It’s why I think tentative, careful, protected, media loving can be a good thing. Especially of culture writers, bloggers, photographers, etc who want to get inside and understand people around them and not just push their opinions of said people. Many of us were outsiders at one point and you can’t really hide your crazy uncles – but you can mitigate their damage.

      • Sebastian says:

        Very good points. Thanks for the comment.

      • Patrick says:

        I did some digging on the author. She did another in-depth culture piece on Lou Dobbs. She readily admits showing up viewing him as a hateful, racist, neocon gorilla (my words, paraphrasing hers), but then slowly coming to think he was just a misunderstood nice guy. She likens herself to the nagging wife trying to “fix” Lou’s public relations issues – several times she came to think she should be fixing his reputation, not lambasting him.

        I give credit to anyone who willingly challenge their own assumptions and beliefs. I worry about those who can change 180 degrees overnight. The gradual change means you are thinking. The rapid one means you are reacting.

        Anyway, I wouldn’t have found either article without this blog. So yay to the boss.

  8. Ash says:

    I didn’t think it was that bad for GQ. Not as good as the Harpers article from a few years ago, but not terrible either.

    Also, if you were paying attention, the writer is a woman, unless you think a man named Jeanne Marie is carrying a purse.

  9. Stacy says:

    I’ve read quite a few of Laskas’ columns over the years. She’s far from a total loss, and I think Spragues did just fine by hosting her. Maybe someone there was also familiar with her work.

    Now if it had been, say, Jon Chait… but it’d be worth reading his version just to confirm that he actually ventured somewhere inboard of Palm Springs or DC.

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