I spent five years as a videotape editor at CNN, watching reporters put plate spinners to shame. I emerged from the experience with a profound understanding of how easy it is to appear objective while pushing an agenda, sometimes unconsciously, sometimes intentionally and deviously. So when I read the salon.com article A gun lover sees the evils of gun culture: White supremacists, Obama haters, and me, my first instinct was to call bullsh*t. It simple doesn’t ring true. For one thing, there’s this . . .
I signed up for some time on the pistol range, increasingly certain with each step that this would be the last time I ever held a gun. I felt uneasy, but I wanted to do this one final time. I began filling the clip to its capacity, ten rounds of .22 caliber long rifle. A mild sense of deja vu crept over me as I slipped the clip into the base of the pistol’s grip, locked it in place and pulled back the slide to place the first bullet into the chamber. I pushed the button on the left side of the stall to send the target swiftly 50 yards down range into the backdrop of tons of mounded sand, no more hand-pulled clothes lines to place the target. Everything progresses. I raised the pistol, took perfunctory aim and fired at the two foot square paper target.
Clip. You and I know it’s a “magazine” not a “clip.” I’ve heard gun people call a magazine a clip. So it’s not inconceivable that a “gun lover” would use improper terminology for that part of the gun. But then there’s this, too.
The report was an authoritative ka-pow, much as I remember, the gun reaching skyward in a credible kick for a .22, three inches of ignited escape gas illuminating the tip of the muzzle in a brilliant blue-white flash. I remember loving the sound, look and feel of that experience. Now, I felt empty and out of place. There was no thrill left in firing a gun. The whole experience felt somehow unwholesome.
A .22 does not kick. It does not emit a brilliant blue-white flash. If you’re wearing ear protection it sounds not unlike an ant farting. So either the reporter’s lying or he’s exaggerating. Even if we give Matt Lallo the benefit of the doubt, his description betrays an anti-gun agenda.
Lallo’s account of his back room encounter with a gun dealer – as he sells his firearms – is more problematic. I’ve met gun dealers/range operators who hold similar opinions. But the writing raises an important question: did Lallo tape the exchange? Otherwise, how would he provide word-for-word dialogue? A conversation that [allegedly] goes like this:
“Look, this country is falling apart.” So much for foreplay, I thought. “We have a president who is an admitted militant Muslim whose objective is to destroy America. Just read his books. China owns us, lawlessness is rampant, the cops are useless and just look at unemployment.”
When I suggested the latest unemployment number was six percent, the retort was instant.
“Lies,” he spat. “Look, they talk about slavery and the historic condition of blacks in this country. What they don’t say is that the middle men for the slave trade were the black brokers in Africa and elsewhere who sold their countrymen to the white traders. Can’t blame the whites for wanting to make money, too, now can you?”
He continued. “My family was indentured for the first three generations that we were in this country, but by initiative and hard work we got out and prospered.”
He delivered his “enlightened” history to me with the confidence of a tenured sociology professor. I was appalled, but captivated. Such erudition on so suspect a topic.
This guy was not speaking in mindless bumper sticker aphorisms. He wanted to tie it together, to build an elegant theory, to move out of brainless wing-nut territory and offer some robust alternate history. And he was articulate, too. This, I thought, was a dangerous man.
I have the sneaking suspicion that the sentence “Can’t blame the whites for wanting to make money, too, now can you?” is fiction. Creative license. Anti-gun agitprop. I’ve never heard any such comment from anyone in the gun world. Or anyone, period. Perhaps there are people who hold such views. But it’s too … convenient.
“You know, Justice Byron White spoke about the concept of the slippery slope and said (paraphrasing) that there really is no such thing, that it is a convenient device for the intellectually timid to try to win weak arguments. He said, all you need do is assess each issue on its merits or shortcomings and make the ethical decision. It is not axiomatic, he said, that if one event transpires that another will follow simply because of similarity to the previous.”
“Total bullshit. What the fuck does he know?”
“Well, he was a highly regarded legal scholar and Justice of the Supreme Court.”
“And I repeat, what the fuck does he know?” He paused for a moment. “See, you got me started.”
Axiomatic? Who uses the word axiomatic in polite conversation? The entire quote is far too literary. Lallo could be paraphrasing himself, but then … quote marks. And Lallo’s failure to ID the gun range or the speaker. Did he – and Slate – decide not to identify the source because Lallo’s gun buyer “was a dangerous man”? Maybe. Maybe not. Especially as he writes this:
I walked out of his store with an important education and a check for $1,000. I would have taken much less, as I was anxious to rid myself of any association I had come to think of as insidious in the extreme.
So now, I am gunless.
But I don’t feel threatened, or at risk. I feel more like Marlon Brando’s character Terry Malloy in “On the Waterfront.” When he’s confronted with the mobster against whom he has testified, he says, “I’m glad at what I done.”
It’s been my experience that anti-gunners are always glad at what they’ve done. So glad that they feel perfectly justified in lying about the facts surrounding their position. In any case, if Lallo was a “gun lover” his “defection” from the cause is no great loss. The natural, civil and Constitution right to keep and bear arms does not depend on anyone’s approval. Even when it does.