Blog or Not?

A statistically improbable polymath's views on politics and culture.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Guns... Lots of Guns
For the past few weeks I've been going, on occasion, to a shooting range with the Physics Correspondant,. Before this summer, I had never fired a gun; in fact, it was only this past spring break that I even held a gun (unloaded, at a Bass Pro Shop, just so I could say that I had, indeed, held a gun in response to hypothetical rightwingers). But I'm proud to report that I have, as of this writing, fired a couple of .22 pistols, a vintage .22 rifle (with a sweet scope on top), a .358 revolver (rather a bit unbalanced), a .40 Glock (with quite a lot of kick), and even a 20-gauge shotgun (once, hitting nothing and partially subluxating my shoulder). That being said, I have no desire to own a gun, aside from the "oh isn't it cute" factor I sometimes experience when looking at itty-bitty derringers of the style ladies used in the nineteenth century. I really don't have the temperment to carry something around that could kill somebody.

Anyways. This is not what I've termed (somewhat derogatively, I must admit) an "emo-blog"; that is, one of those personal blogs focused almost exclusively on the writer's daily life. (See also: LiveJournal). I'm writing about my own personal experiences with guns to shed light on what I'm beginning to suspect is a greater trend:

Liberals of my generation are more comfortable with guns, or at least the concept thereof, than their predecessors.

The traditional left-wing anti-gun bias is well-established in contemporary political lore; at the abovementioned shooting range the clerk, a young woman of about my age, noticed my "Kerry: The Real Deal" button and joked, "he's going to take all our guns away." I noted that Kerry wouldn't be able to pass anything noticeably more restrictive than the Brady Law through a Republican-dominated Congress or even a mildly Democratic Congress (no Senator from Michigan or Vermont is ever going to pass a far-reaching ban), and further noted that Kerry had some guns, and was a Vietnam veteran. We joked around some more, and I received an NRA pamphlet (she noted that the store and range get tons of literature from them) detailing how Kerry was bad for gun owners.

Later, I glanced through the pamphlet, and gathered that the main points against Kerry were that he had supported the Brady Bill, he wanted background checks at gun shows, and he bashed the NRA. Somehow I don't think Thomas Jefferson is too concerened. I mean, Saint Reagan supported the Brady Bill--and the ban itself, according to Matthew Yglesias, is pretty damn pointless, as you can just mod out a banned weapon and make it legal. As for background checks at gun shows--you mean you want felons and the mentally ill to buy guns at gun shows? I'm sure the police would be happy to do all those checks for free; police departments were quite enthusiastic about handing out trigger locks in the aftermath of Columbine.

As for bashing the NRA, I have this to say to Wayne LaPierre: Grow up. Stop supporting a president who's about to sell nine-tenths of the Bill of Rights down the river just because he pays lip service to the one-tenth his opponent isn't too enthusiastic about. If your organization were really serious about supporting the Second Amendment, it would be fighting the handgun bans in New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.--but then, it doesn't seem like there are many Bush supporters in those cities, so maybe you don't care about their right to bear arms. I mean, I don't want people to be walking around the streets of Chicago packing heat (due to the high probability that someone trying to defend themselves would hit an innocent bystander) but even I feel Dan Drezner should be able to have a trigger-locked 9mm in his locked nightstand drawer in the event Hyde Park is invaded.

Speaking of Chicago...

Last spring the College Republicans of the University of Chicago held a trip to a shooting range in Kentucky. Four students went, only two of them Republicans. One of the non-Republicans was a vegan from the New York metropolitan area. I've seen her pictures from the trip, and it looked like she was having a fine old time.

So I'd like to conclude by reassuring my gun-owning friends: Based on what I've heard from the Left of my generation, we really don't want to take away your guns--hell, some of us own guns. We just don't want criminals and kids to have access to them.

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