Liberals And Gays Getting Into Guns? That’s What The BBC Says.

Earlier this week I gave an award to a writer for GQ for the dumbest article about guns written this year. But today I happened to read another article which might be not quite as dumb, but certainly just as uninformed. And this is an article which appeared on BBC (you really can’t blame Brits for not knowing anything about small arms) and purports to explain a sudden, mad rush for gun ownership on the part of liberals and gays, two groups who traditionally have never felt any affinity for guns.

liberals              Of course the reason for this new-found interest in arming themselves is not because liberals or gays are worried about their 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’  To the contrary, they claim to be scared of physical attacks from the fervent followers of our soon-to-be President who, after all, is a 2nd-Amendment freak.  And there are even some folks out there, according to the intrepid BBC reporter, Brian Wheeler, who are stocking their survival shelters because the unthinkable has now become thinkable under Donald Trump.

As far as I can tell, Wheeler’s never written about guns, but then again, it’s not like his audience would know whether he’s faking the whole thing or not. When he quotes, for example, a lady from Pink Pistols, the gay and lesbian gun group, who says that the group’s members feel harassed at the range, this is exactly the reverse of what the same lady said about LGBT shooters being accepted in a story that ran after the massacre at The Pulse. As for the survivalists who believe that the Apocalypse is just around the corner, those nuts don’t need an election or anything else to explain the virtues of freeze-dried food.

The silliest part of the article is an embedded video with America’s official liberal gun guy, the author Dan Baum, who published a book back in 2013 that was intended to explain to liberal readers (Dan has written about guns for Harpers, among other liberal mags) that people who like guns just aren’t all that bad.  And to prove this he went across the country interviewing various gun nuts who, as it turned out, happened to be more or less normal people just like you and me.  The book actually reads like a screenplay for a Michael Moore movie, but the best part is when Dan describes how he anguished for months over deciding what kind of handgun to carry after he got a CCW permit in Colorado only to discover that the gun he bought was too heavy to carry around.  So much for Dan the Gun Guy.

The penultimate proof that liberals are flocking to gun ownership is a long spiel about the activities of the Liberal Gun Club, a California-based organization to which I once briefly belonged.  They claim to have members in all 50 states, and according to their website, their goal is to “to provide a voice for gun-owning liberals and moderates in the national conversation on gun rights, gun legislation, firearms safety, and shooting sports.” And while they claim to be non-partisan, in fact they oppose virtually every piece of state-level gun legislation, including California’s Prop. 63.  Whether it’s Half-and-Half or Ronald Reagan, everything that’s stupid starts in California and moves East.  The Liberal Gun Club is no exception to that rule and if Wheeler really believes that this bunch represents a shift of liberals toward liking guns, good for him, he found a few liberals who like guns.

Wheeler’s shabby attempt to give us a ‘new’ perspective on gun ownership will become, I suspect, a not-unusual approach that journalists who are paid by how many words they write will employ in the Age of Trump.  Because in a country as large and diverse as ours, it’s not very difficult to find a few people here and there who have been ignored by liberal-leaning culture and now, thanks to Trump, can have their moment in the sun.  And a moment is exactly what it is.

 

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A New Gun Book That Is Different And Should Be Read.

Firmin DeBrabander teaches philosophy at Maryland Institute College of Art.  Which makes him about the most unlikely person to write a book about guns.  But he has written a book about guns, Do Guns Make Us Free? Democracy and the Armed Society, and the title neatly sums up what the book is all about.  Actually, the book isn’t really about guns so much as it’s a discourse on political theorists and philosophers whose writings contain discussions about the role of arms in defining the relationship of the citizenry to the ruling or governing class.

tea                The text abounds with references to the classic writings of Locke, Machiavelli, Hobbes and more recently, Michel Foucault, John Dewey and Hannah Arendt. DeBrabander describes, in detail, how ‘freedom’ on the one hand and gun ownership on the other often appear to be conjoint concepts but, in fact, are often contradictory and work at cross purposes to each other. Basically the author argues that promoting the idea that guns keep us ‘free’ by protecting us from government tyranny, the gun lobby is, in reality, increasing the possibility that freedoms will be lost as the government finds itself facing an increasingly armed and potentially violent citizenry. He also paints a disturbing picture about how increased government War on Terror surveillance has largely passed unnoticed by the pro-gun community, notwithstanding their alleged concerns about loss of ‘freedoms’ when anyone talks about controlling guns.

This book is the latest attempt to examine the motives and thoughts of gun owners from a cultural point of view.  DeBrabander is aware of Dan Baum’s book, Gun Guys, A Road Trip, which he references at length, but he published too late to include Jennifer’s Carlson’s book, Citizen Protectors, The Everyday Politics in an Age of Decline, which takes up where Baum left off.  These two books share a common theme, namely, the idea that people who identify themselves through their ownership and use of guns are not just ‘nuts’ or ‘weirdos,’ but are making an objective and conscious choice to define their lives through immersion in the gun culture, which invariably means walking around armed.

All three books make the argument that members of the gun culture agree that carrying a gun is an expression of their ‘freedom,’ but DeBrabander’s book is the only contribution to this genre that attempts to view the concept of ‘freedom’ through a two-dimensional lens. One dimension is created by taking these gun owners at their word which basically means listening to a jumbled argument about the no-good government which is a mélange of Tea Party, Limbaugh and Fox News.  The other lens is the anti-government philosophical tradition that comes out of Locke, winds its way through populist political eruptions like Shays’ Rebellion and now is manifested in the rhetorical anger of the Occupy movement.

But what sets the pro-gun movement apart from other expressions of anti-government dissent, according to DeBrabander, is the fact that it is armed, and in that respect becomes a threat to the peaceful and orderly demonstration of free speech and free expression on which a true democracy depends. It is the potential for violence and the frequent calls for violence that lead DeBrabander to insist that guns make us less, not more free.  It’s an interesting and provocative thesis, and makes this book a different and much more interesting text than other books that try to explain gun culture to the literate (read: non-gun) crowd.

I’m going to give this book five stars but there’s one point that needs to be raised.  The NRA does a masterful job using the member’s love of guns to wrap their support around other socio-political issues, but there are many people who hate taxes, hate Obama, hate liberals, but don’t necessarily own guns.  To solve the problem of gun violence, we need to figure out why some folks do and some folks don’t.  Because people who believe that guns are the answer to their greatest fears need to see that those fears are shared by others who don’t need to pick up a gun.