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Interview with a Liberal Gun Owner

Over in the Atlantic. I can relate to some of it, but his reasons for carrying a gun are pretty different than mine. But he covers a lot of topics, including open carry:

When you carried your gun into a Whole Foods in Boulder, Colorado, no one reacted. But when you went into a Mexican grocery, everyone was on guard. Why do you think that was?

I honestly think the people in Whole Foods — their eyes saw it and their brain didn’t. They may have thought I was some kind of cop, even though I really don’t look like it. But in the Mexican store, they didn’t know what to expect. In Mexico, no one gets to carry a gun. Which is kind of crazy, given what’s going on down there. That’s a good example — you’ve got innocents being slaughtered down there, but they can’t defend themselves. It’s always the people who live in nice neighborhoods who want gun control.

Read the whole thing. Even people on the other side should be reading it. While there are a few things here I would argue with (I think gun ownership is far more diverse than he postulates) overall I think it’s pretty good, and a genuine attempt to understand the gun culture.

UPDATE: His response to what Democrats should know about gun guys is something I want to talk about a bit:

I think they should know how much self-esteem gun guys derive from their guns, how patriotic they feel. And lawmakers need to stop thinking that the NRA represents gun owners, because only 4 percent of gun owners belong to the NRA. They need to think of gun owners as rational responsible people who genuinely care about gun violence and would like to be helpful.

I don’t really feel like I derive any self-esteem from guns. This is where I think he’s a bit off track. I could sell all my guns tomorrow and lead a perfectly happy life. The reason I get very defensive about this issue is because I don’t like people sticking their noses into my business, and if I’m not doing anything that hurts anyone, it’s my business. My self-esteem is derived from personal autonomy, and freedom to pursue my own happiness. Guns are just a symbol of that. Screw anyone who says they know what’s best for me.

10 Responses to “Interview with a Liberal Gun Owner”

  1. ExurbanKevin says:

    I agree that I am the same person whether I carry a gun or not. That’s why Glock’s “My Glock gives me the confidence to live my life” campaign gets under my skin, as (IMO) it can be misconstrued to fit into the “Guns = self esteem” idear.

  2. DevsAdvocate says:

    “I don’t really feel like I derive any self-esteem from guns. This is where I think he’s a bit off track. I could sell all my guns tomorrow and lead a perfectly happy life.”

    Would you feel just as happy if, instead of selling your guns, they were taken from you? Or denied to you?

    I think, with regard to self-esteem, the Liberal Gun Owner may be referring to what you said: “My self-esteem is derived from personal autonomy, and freedom to pursue my own happiness. Guns are just a symbol of that. Screw anyone who says they know what’s best for me.”

    The attack on guns in an attack on personal autonomy and the freedom to pursue your happiness. The attack on guns is an attack on you because those who push these restrictions insist that you cannot be trusted with them.

    • Sebastian says:

      I think that’s the better way of putting it. He’s onto the right thing, but what he fails to realize is that the gun is a symbol of something greater, and not the actual something.

      The reason I would not be happy if someone took them is because by doing that you’re basically saying the following to me:

      1. We are taking this from you because you might hurt someone, or yourself with it.
      2. We are more capable of making decisions for you than you are yourself.
      3. We’re obviously smarter than you are.

      All three are very insulting, and most people don’t like being insulted.

  3. Sebastian,
    He didn’t say what you think he said. The part you quoted was actually referencing something he said earlier in the article.

    “They’re managing these incredibly dangerous weapons, not hurting anybody, maybe they’re wearing a gun and keeping people around them safe. They get a lot of pride and a lot of self-esteem from having these guns. This is not crazy, and this is not pitiable — this is real.”

    In context he’s saying that having a gun, managing the danger, protecting yourself and increasing the safety of the people around you makes people feel good about themselves.

    That’s true. We say that all the time. We are a pack, not a herd. We look to ourselves to get ourselves out of danger. We don’t depend on others to save us.

    The second quote, without reference to the first, sounds wrong. But when you understand what he’s saying, he’s right.

  4. wizardpc says:

    And lawmakers need to stop thinking that the NRA represents gun owners, because only 4 percent of gun owners belong to the NRA. They need to think of gun owners as rational responsible people who genuinely care about gun violence and would like to be helpful.

    I’m surprised you didn’t comment on this section, even though you quoted it.

    He’s saying that NRA members are NOT “rational responsible people who genuinely care about gun violence and would like to be helpful.”

    • Freiheit says:

      Theres also some math that needs to happen. NRA claims ~4M members, MotherJones picked that apart and claims ~2M. So using the most favorable figures for the ANTIs and this quote, thats 200M gun owners. There are only 300M people in the US.

      Someones stats are wrong wrong wrong.

      • Patrick H says:

        I think the NRA has a better idea of what their membership number is than some left wing site like Mother Jones- whose analysis I didn’t find compelling at all.

        And the current NRA membership is 4.5 million.

    • Sebastian says:

      Yeah, I don’t agree with that part either… unfortunately it’s a common trait among liberal gun owners to badmouth NRA because they view them as being on the right of the political spectrum. Of course, that’s because liberal Democrats oppose gun rights.

    • McThag says:

      And lawmakers need to stop thinking that the NAACP represents black people, because only 0.7 percent of black people belong to the NAACP. They need to think of black people as rational responsible people who genuinely care about race relations and would like to be helpful.

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