“Last summer I was targeted with online harassment after an essay of mine was published,” dogsledder and author Blair Braverman (above) writes at theguardian.com “For weeks afterward, I was afraid to be home alone. My liberal friends reassured me that I’d be safe. That I was brave, tough. That I was loved. My neighbors? They taught me how to shoot guns.”
And there you have it. A card-carrying liberal — a Jewess in rural Wisconsin with a transgender wife — butts heads with reality, sees the gun rights light, and writes a pro-gun mea culpa (published in a resolutely pro-disarmament mainstream media news org, no less). Well, not exactly . . .
I am extremely liberal, and very much in favor of strict gun control. And yet, when I was scared and my neighbors helped me in the best way they knew how – by showing up, distracting me, encouraging me to explore a limit of my own power – I was moved beyond speech.
Hang on. TTAG gives its Gun Hero of the Day Award to someone who is “very much in favor of strict gun control”?
Yes. It takes an enormous amount of courage and self-awareness to move away from a publicly professed anti-gun position — especially if you’re a writer for the liberal press.
Ms. Braverman’s evolution is the result of rational thinking inspired by a cultural shift — which is where the battle for Americans’ natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms is really fought.
Lately I’ve been hearing a lot of words about gun owners, generally, which is to say the kind of people in the place where I live. Ignorant. Backwards. Selfish. So many arguments for gun control seem to take at their core classist assumptions about who is capable of being responsible, whose needs and fears are worth hearing out; whose home town or weight or education level or dialect (’Murica, anyone?) makes them worthy of ridicule.
Instead of mocking rural Americans for owning twice as many guns as their urban counterparts, ask why they’re afraid.
Instead of mocking rural Americans for owning twice as many guns as their urban counterparts, for thinking guns make them safer, ask why they’re really afraid. Because people like my neighbors sense the derision from those who have learned how to debate with a different vocabulary.
Because they don’t have a school, or even a grocery store, and the best things around are the things they’ve made for themselves, the things they’ve built and protected. Because without the opportunity to hunt for food – and yes, assault rifles are used for hunting – they would be hard-pressed to access affordable organic meat for their families. And yes, they care about feeding their families organic meat.
Because in three years of living here, I’ve never seen a police car within 20 miles of my home, and when I called the sheriff last fall over a threatening trespasser, it took him three hours to show up. Because wanting the ability to physically defend yourself feels pretty darn visceral when you live out of screaming range from your nearest neighbor.
Ms. Braverman’s editorial fails in the final furlong, as you will see.
No number of mass shootings will convince my neighbors that guns should be banned, because the greater the tragedy, the greater their desire for the means to protect themselves. Theirs is an argument of values, not statistics. But listening to them, taking their concerns seriously, understanding the needs that guns meet for them and prioritizing those needs in policy? Now we’re talking.
Deep empathy with gun owners isn’t a distraction from gun control. It’s a prerequisite for implementing it successfully.
Ms. Braverman hasn’t quite connected the dots between firearms freedom and individual liberty. But she’s getting there and, perhaps, taking some like-minded liberals with her. For that we salute her.