There’s old boy down in Virginia goes by the name Mark Carman. Posted a video on his Facebook page and website waving around some little-ass Ruger pistol – talking one thing or ‘nuther ‘bout the 2nd Amendment. Got hisself a million hits, maybe more. Invited to the Big House up 1600 Pennsylvania way in DC. Says that no ‘responsible’ gun owner should be afraid of universal background checks. I shoot my mouth off all the time about the 2nd Amendment and the closest I’ll ever get to the White House is to stand in front of Blair House across the street.
What I really like about Carman, all kidding aside, is that he’s a bone-fide gun nut, same as me. How do I know he’s a gun nut? Because he’s from the South, which is where most gun nuts happen to be. The truth is that guns are really a Southern thing; below Mason-Dixon gun ownership, gun use and gun violence go hand-in-hand. So when an old boy like Carman starts saying he’s not afraid of universal background checks, like it or not he’s going to get some attention fast and quick.
I saw Mark’s video the day after it went live and today went back and viewed it again. Then I switched over to the NRA video channel to compare his performance to the latest digital missives from Colion Noir and Dana Loesch. The truth is that neither of them look or sound like they have any real connections to guns. Yea, there’s Colion prancing around with an AR-15; Dana or someone whose rear end looks like Dana is pointing a pistol down range. But the NRA videos have become too slick, too perfectly scripted, too predictable in terms of what they say. If I had a nickel for every time an NRA flack tells me that guns are the best way to protect myself from crime, I could quit work.
The video produced by Mark Carman looks like he shot it with a Droid propped up against a bookshelf on the bedroom wall. Out of focus, lighting patchy at best, any second you think the whole gizmo is going to break down and you’ll be staring at a blank screen. But it’s exactly the lack of pretense, the amateurish quality (believe me, Carman’s no amateur) which gives this video its power and its strength. To use an overused word, this thing’s authentic and the message, even when Carman mumbles and drops a syllable here and there, is sharp and clear.
Because the real problem with the NRA which comes through in everything they do and say, is that the gun world is divided into ‘us’ and ‘them,’ the good guys versus the bad guys, the ones who totally agree with us and the ones who don’t. They’ve become shrill, they’ve become strident, take a look at their videos and see if a smile ever crosses anyone’s face. I’m sorry folks, but I lived through wars, recessions, illnesses and premature deaths. Making me go to a licensed dealer every time I want to buy or sell a gun just isn’t that big a deal.
It’s this sense of perspective which gives Mark Carman’s video the upper hand. Wait until near the end when he takes on the whole question of the registration of guns. I really can’t convey how flawlessly he demolishes the ‘slippery-slope’ NRA argument when he says, “You’ve got a concealed-carry license, you’ve got a hunting license. You think the government doesn’t know you own guns?” Perfect. Just perfect.
And during the entire video, all eleven minutes, he’s holding onto that cheap-ass little Ruger and you know he just enjoys fiddlin’ with one of his guns. When a guy like that says that gun folks shouldn’t be afraid to support common-sense rules to keep guns out of the wrong hands, you’re hearing it about as honestly as it can be said. And gun folks tend to be honest folks too. Which is why Mark will clean the NRA’s clock.