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You may know me. I’m one of those liberal academics you read about as you roll your eyes. You know the type — working in a private university, safe behind the ivy-covered walls of academia. I support Obama. I eat healthy foods. I listen to NPR. And I carry a gun, every day. You may see that as a contradiction. I know many who see my choices as contradictory. And I say to them, and perhaps you, life is filled with contradictions . . .

This is my first year of concealed carry. I received my permit on June 1. I’m not a stranger to guns: in my teens I had a .22 and my dad and I would drive down to the river and shoot clay pigeons from a spare-tire mounted thrower. Dad gave me a Winchester Model 12 shotgun he got from a relative and when we wrote Winchester a letter, we received a postcard in the mail saying it was probably made in the 1920s. I remember being in a gun store and finding a Remington 870 “Ducks Unlimited” 12 gauge that I convinced Dad to buy for himself.

He also had a Smith and Wesson .38 wheel gun. When Dad died, the guns came to me and when I had my first of three children, I sold the guns and kept the house gun free as my kids grew up. It made sense at the time. But this is 2012 and contemporary thinking about gun ownership has changed. And so has my own.

Gun ownership means different things to different people. Taking an unloaded gun to a range in a locked case, opening it on the firing line, and putting holes in paper under the supervision of a safety officer is one thing.

Loading a semi automatic pistol magazine, placing the magazine in the well, racking the slide and holstering the weapon in my bedroom every morning is a paradigm shift. It’s a life changer. It now says that every encounter I have with another human being, I will have a loaded firearm in easy reach. It’s a decision that says in a life-threatening situation, lethal intervention is seconds away. That option was not part of my reality before. It is now.

Many of my acquaintances carry — either concealed or in their truck — and have for many years. A few boast about it, but most keep it quietly to themselves. My intent was to keep it quietly to myself as well. But what I read on line and see on line is a very extroverted “look-how-cool-my-gun-stuff is” perspective. I’m not against that at all, a lot of the videos and gear are cool. It seems to me that TTAG is a space with room for a quieter voice that includes reflection and appreciation of an introverted approach to concealed carry. After all, what else would you expect from a liberal professor?

When I left the city for a rural life, I soon joked that if you were pulled over by law enforcement in our county and you did NOT have a weapon in the truck, the officer would issue a citation on the spot. I think it’s safe to say rural culture embraces weapons more than an urban one does. Four-legged nefarious predators are a constant threat to a farm herd. Once you’ve seen what coyotes can do to a young colt and raccoons can do to a chicken house, you understand the need for a gun.

What’s changed is my awareness of the two-legged nefarious predators around us, too.

I’m a strong supporter of the dedicated law enforcement officers who protect and serve, but they will tell you their help can be 20 minutes or more away from my home. In the last year, within a few miles of me, there have been two armed home invasions. My son was robbed near his college and the teenage thug told him he had a gun. The man who lived next door to my young children growing up is a registered sex offender.

Author Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman and YouTube personality NutNFancy use the phrase “Sheepdog” to describe civilian concealed weapon permit holders who are willing to step up and intervene in their own defense or in the defense of others. They share the idea that the world is made up of “wolves”, “sheep” and “sheep dogs.” They also warn that the sheep don’t like sheepdogs because, to them, they look a lot like wolves.

Nowhere is this idea truer than on a college campus. Many states, including my own, forbid the carry of concealed weapons on a public school campus or institution of higher learning. Most private schools, including my own, adopt a policy that reads remarkably like state code.

So to be honest, I stretched the truth with you in my opening. While I carry every day, during my workday my weapon is stored in a locked safe and chained to the seat post in my locked truck. I’m not happy about that, but as a concealed permit holder I play by the rules and I’m accountable to a higher standard. In and of itself, the gun, locked in a safe in my locked truck, may get me fired.

And I’m not alone. Many TTAG readers also work where they are forbidden to carry, or need to go places frequently where they may not carry legally. It’s a contradiction we live with, we adapt to and we work with as best we can. I’m quietly working to amend our policy to allow legally permitted carriers to carry on campus. It’s a slow process at best and no one’s likely to get whiplash watching change on campus.

My path to this blog requires a balance of risk and courage. My risk includes a disclosure of enough information to make the theft of my firearm a possibility. Disclosing where I work and where I live would also expose me to the risk of losing my job. And presenting a firearm to defend others or myself in a crisis makes me the likely first target of the wolves.

My courage, if I may call it that, is creating a voice for similar-minded, quiet, introverted sheepdogs. I’m convinced that other first-time concealed carriers weigh similar or even more difficult choices than mine. Gun ownership and concealed carry, while a Second Amendment right, is also an informed choice. It’s not for everyone. I’m choosing the role of anonymous sheepdog and I invite you to follow my path this first year.

To be true to my academic background, I should probably quote some famous dead author. So I’ve chosen G.K. Chesterton who wrote: “Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die.”

Welcome to my contradiction.

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  1. Be careful. You keep thinking freely like that, and you’re going to end up being a “conservative” in no time :). I bet the greatest danger to you now is when your “liberal” friends find out you’re a sheepdog.

    Safety note: When you rack your slide each morning, take care that you’re not creating a dangerous overpressure situation with bullet seat-back, if it’s the same round getting re-chambered each day.

    • +1

      Better yet, keep the handgun loaded and store it safely (in a holster if necessary to cover the trigger) at night. Safely could be high up and out of reach (and out of sight!) of children or in a gun safe.

      • mp: What is bullet seat back?

        I’m not sure if you’re being snarky, but I’m going to act as if you’re not. Sean meant “setback,” which is when the bullet gets pushed deeper into the case than it was designed to be. This can happen when the same round gets chambered over and over, as in unloading and reloading a carry gun regularly without rotating the ammunition. The deeper the bullet is pushed into the case, the harder it is to push it back out again, and that can lead to dangerous overpressure and possibly an explosion. In effect, it becomes easier for the powder to blow the back of the case apart than to drive the bullet out the front.

        There are three easy ways to prevent bullet setback. First, don’t unload your gun every time you set it down. Second, use ammunition that has the top of the case crimped into a cannelure (I’ll let you Google “crimped cannelure” yourself, because if I put a third link in this comment, it’ll go to the spam filter and it’ll be hours before you see it). Third, if and when you do unload your carry weapon, rotate the ammuntion so that you’re not always rechambering that same first round.

        • Holy crap, I have been around firearms for 30 years discrete carry for seven and this is the first time I have ever heard of this. I work on a military installation and unloading is a daily occurrence to be compliant with the heavy regs. Will be reading more on this topic, you never stop learning eh?

      • Repeated impact of the case being loaded each morning can push the bullet deeper into the case a very small amout, but it is accumulative. A hundred days of “very small amount” can add up to a big amount which can cause reduced internal volume for the powder. That increases pressure when the round is eventually fired, possibly to the point of rupturing the case, or worse.

      • Bullet seat back is when the bullet is pushed back further into the brass cartridge case, so it is “seated” deeper in the case than the loading specifications for that round. It tends to happen more frequently in lever action rifles, where the bullets are loaded into a tube with the base of one cartridge resting on the nose of the preceding bullet. The cartridges are under spring tension so they will feed when the lever is operated. (This is why tube-fed firearms recommend using flat or round tipped bullets, to avoid the sharp point of a bullet setting off the primer in the next round). The spring tension can force a bullet deeper into the case, so the bullets are normally “roll-crimped” into the case. That is, the top circumference edge of the brass case is squeezed or rolled into the “crimping groove” or cannelure of the bullet, thus locking the bullet into the case.

        Bullets can also be pushed back into the case by higher levels of recoil in the more powerful cartridges.

        Bullet roll-crimping can only be done on rimmed cases, where the cartridge “headspaces” on the rim. So-called “rimless” straight-walled cases (.380, .40, 9mm, .45 ACP, and most other rounds for semi-autos) headspace on the front circumference rim of the case, so they cannot be roll crimped into the bullet. (Because that would change the effective length of the casing as far as the headspacing is concerned, leading to another dangerous situation.) Most tapered rifle cartridges headspace on the shoulder of the case – see below.

        Therefore, rimless straight-walled cases are usually “taper-crimped”, where the bullet is held in the case by the inward pressure of the case – sort of like a hose-clamp on a rubber hose – to keep the bullet from being forced back into the case by recoil.

        You do not want the bullet forced back into the case because (depending on the bullet and powder load involved) this can actually result in the bullet compressing the powder, or lessening the space above the powder, thus increasing the pressures generated by firing that load.

        Pretty lengthy answer, but I can’t think of a simple way yo explain why the bullets are crimped.

        “Headspacing” is the critical length of that portion of the cartridge that determines how deeply into the firearm’s chamber the cartridge will go at the moment of ignition. Cartridges are headspaced on the rim (like a .22LR or a .38 Special), the mouth of the case (like a .45ACP), or the shoulder of the case (like a .308 rifle). Headspacing is important in a cartridge because improper (too long or too short) headspacing will result in (1 – too long) the cartridge not being fully chambered when the firing pin hits the primer, and the firearm may then fire when the slide/bolt is not fully locked up (BOOM), OR (2-too long) the cartridge will go too deep into the chamber and the fireing pin may not be long enough to ignite the primer, or if the primer ignites, the bullet/case may enter into the rifling and be squeezed too tightly together by the smaller dimensions – therefore increasing pressures to dangerous levels (also BOOM).

        This lengthy and complicated explanation illustrates why reloading is a VERY exacting process, requiring a high level of attention to detail. (As in “trim-to” lengths on fired brass cases.)

        Hope all that helped. Probably more than you really wanted. The short version is “if the cartirdge dimensions are not within specs, the gun explodes.”

    • That was my thought as well.

      Prof: Just rack it and leave it. It’s just fine that way in a modern firearm; the springs will be just fine, too. Who knows, you may just need that gun one night, too.

    • Another way to prevent set-back is to use two magazines. The first magazine has one round and the second magazine has 6 (assume a 1911). Use the one-round magazine to chamber the round. Remove the now empty magazine and insert the full one. This works well with my 1911 (with a full magazine, I can almost hear the round strike the feed ramp in the frame and then strike the barrel as it loads. With only one round in the mag, chambering is much smoother.

  2. Chesterton’s a good one to quote.

    You reminded me of a man I met briefly at a barber shop. He told me he was a member of both the ACLU and the NRA, and he believed in being “a heavily armed liberal.” While I didn’t agree with his politics, I respected that he chose to think for himself rather than blindly follow the party line.

    • Entirely appropriate. Both advocate for fundamental, constitutional rights guaranteed to everyone under the law. ACLU Nevada even supports the 2nd Amendment openly: Now we just need the national organization to wake up and do the right thing too.

  3. A fellow who quotes Chesterton is always welcome here. My particular favorite: “Mr. Chesterton, what is wrong with modern society?” “Me.”

    • My favorite Chesterton quote is from the short story, “The Blue Cross”:

      “The most incredible thing about miracles is that they happen”.

  4. Well written. I sincerely hope you don’t lose your job or suffer other adverse effects of writing this, or living the lifestyle. I cringed at both the potential criminal and employment-related fallout when you described storing your weapon in your truck in an open forum with your name attached. Assuming that’s your real name. I wouldn’t blame you if it isn’t.

  5. Your first paragraph comes off as a little condescending. I (and I assume many others) here are not uneducated mouth-breathing conservative reactionaries so there’s no need to stereotype. I’ve had the pleasure of studying under plenty of professors who weren’t anti-freedom and anti-choice.

    That being said, leftists who carry guns are nothing new. I welcome it if they’re consistent about defending the right of others to do so as well, and that includes defending it from their ideological bedfellows who are vehemently opposed to the second amendment. Are you consistent about that?

    I would also encourage you to think about the implications of policies put into place like-minded people. A larger, more intrusive state means less personal freedom.

    • I don’t know when you went to college, so I’m wondering: how many of those professors who were not anti-freedom came from the pre-Vietnam era or from the military. Since Vietnam, academia has been subverted by the draft-dodgers who went on to form the core of today’s academic intelligentsia.

      • I graduated in 2010 with a degree in Poli Sci and minor in Criminal Justice.

        I only had one professor who was openly anti-freedom. He was a self-admitted Marxist-Leninist, which is something that the reviewers on failed to note. I’m sure I could’ve had more but I made it my mission to choose classes and professors that would welcome discussion.

        Aside from that I didn’t have many professors that were ideologues. I’m sure plenty of them were “liberals” but they did not use their position of power as a soap box to propagandize. When politics came up they gave their opinions. Most were very open-minded, tolerant, and welcomed discussion. Only the aforementioned Marxist-Leninist tried to shut down discussion by screaming at people that disagreed with him.

        I’d say that the majority of my professors were probably welfare liberals. A good minority, though, were conservative and a few were libertarian (left-libertarian and right-libertarian).

        I only had a few professors from the Vietnam-era. Most were younger than that. The two that stick out in my mind include a conservative veteran (although not a Vietnam vet) and a left-libertarian former police detective and criminologist. The latter was a Vietnam vet and a real character who actively discouraged people from joining the military. When he’d go on a rant about the drug war, the military, police corruption, etc. the conservative students (many of whom who wanted to join up or be cops for the wrong reasons) would get really uncomfortable. That always made my day.

      • Blah blah blah, this the same non-sensical talking point that is always being thrown. When was the last time you were in college? I like Mike B. am a recent grad, although not as recent, and I have never experienced this anti-freedom subversive nonsense that you claim has infected colleges. I have experienced a wide range of ideas and concepts that differ from mine, but are no less evil than macarthyism, or Jedgar Hoover ‘s anti radical nonsense or G.W. Bush’s complete ineptitude towards everything in academia. It’s possible that colleges I have attended are less anti-freedom because they have all been in the South, I doubt it since professors travel from all to teach, or it’s likely that your view of higher education is outmoded. I am inclined to believe the former rather than the latter.

        • For what it’s worth, I went to a college that’s in the South too. Well, nominally in the South. FL is weird.

        • Try normalizing the campus rules to comply with state law and the anti-freedom bigots come out in force.

      • Nowadays, most classes are taught by grad students and adjunct professors who are mostly in their early 30s or younger.

        Also, for every Marxist I’ve encountered, there has been an Ayn Rand, Austrian economics loving right winger.

        • “most classes are taught by grad students and adjunct professors who are mostly in their early 30s or younger.”

          one right here!

  6. Welcome, brother. Thank you for this article and it’s thoughtful insight. I would echo SeanC’s comment as well:

    “You keep thinking freely like that, and you’re going to end up being a “conservative” in no time :). I bet the greatest danger to you now is when your “liberal” friends find out you’re a sheepdog.”

  7. welcome to the fold. question. are you loading your weapon every morning? does this mean you’re spending your time at home unarmed? my self defense weapon is loaded 24-7. when it’s not on my person it’s in a safe in my bedroom.

    also, will you vote your guns?

  8. “I’m not a stranger to guns: in my teens I had a .22 and my dad and I would drive down to the river and shoot clay pigeons from a spare-tire mounted thrower.”
    I saw a Beverly Hillbillies episode where they were shooting skeet with a rifle.

    “Loading a semi automatic pistol magazine, placing the magazine in the well, racking the slide and holstering the weapon in my bedroom every morning is a paradigm shift.”
    I keep the guns that I may need loaded even at home. Home carry does no good if what you carry is not loaded. My Granny always said that unloaded guns kill more people than loaded guns, so I play it safe and keep my guns loaded so I never have to think about if loaded or not.
    Mr. Professor is on the right track of thinking. If more Libs would realise that their right to safety is not guaranteed by the constitution, but their right to self defence is a natural God given right, then there would be less sheep, less wolves, and more sheepdogs.
    Just my 2 pence.

  9. Congratulations on your mature and reasoned decision to carry. I encourage you to continue examining the contradictions that you have highlighted in your well written post. Hopefully your academic career has exposed you to some examination of philosophy, as a discipline. Over time, if you remain rigorous and honest, you WILL come to the conclusion that there are actions and beliefs that truly are mutually exclusive. You’ve taken only the first steps toward opening your mind. I pray that you might find unity and congruity. May your journey be safe and rewarding.

    • DrDave is right. You don’t have to apologize or feel weird about being a liberal. Many of us started out that way. You have taken the first steps to freedom and mental clarity by moving to a rural area and embracing the Constitution (or at least part of it). The rest will come in good time as you examine the other beliefs you hold. It’s just a shame your work immerses you in an environment where the kool-aid flows so readily. Good luck on your journey.

    • “And I say to them, and perhaps you, life is filled with contradictions . . .”

      I don’t really see contradictions regularly in my life. Maybe I’m not looking hard enough. Actually, maybe not looking is a blessing.

  10. Great column, and your thoughts resonate with me on many levels – grew up with guns & dad, I listen to NPR everyday, eat healthy foods (sometimes), and I support Obama over Romney. Haha.

    I too work at a place where guns are forbidden (public elementary school) and I choose to obey the spirit of the law by never bringing my firearm (or any weapon) inside the school building… though there are plenty of occasions where it is locked securely in a container that is attached to the inside of my car. Our school practices “intruder” drills only about several times a year, and honestly, given the neighborhood my school is in, “lockdowns” happen frequently when the local police are engaged in a foot pursuit or there is an armed felon loose in the area. But maintaining a sheepdog attitude means a willingness to protect others with whatever tools are at hand – when in my case probably means the pens, the stapler, yardstick, etc. to safeguard the lives of the kids I work with.

    Good luck during your year of CCW!

  11. In August 1778 Thomas Jefferson wrote a long letter of advice to young Peter Carr, who was about to begin his freshman year at Yale. In addition to recommending reading (in the original, of course) the works of Herodotus, Xenophontis Hellencia, Diodorus Siculus, and a dozen or so others as a foundation for an undergraduate education, Jefferson wrote:

    “A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercise, I advise the gun. While this gives a moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind. Games plated with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body, and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks.”

    Wonder how the administration at Yale would feel about a freshman who took that advice today?

  12. One of the pleasures of growing up in Arizona was the naturalness of everyone, from pre-teens to the quite elderly, carrying weapons. Sort of takes away the “look-how-cool-my-gun-stuff-is perspective” that bothers you. Concealed carry lends to your perspective, which is one of the advantages of open carry. Among several other advantages. The “strong” becoming more of a target than the “weak” argument, I find unpersuasive.

    I gave a lecture some time back on my responsibilities under “natural law,” in which I mentioned I have a personal individual responsibility to protect my spouse, my children, my loved ones, myself, etc. Afterwards, one of the students told me, “Just because nobody says anything, doesn’t mean they agree with you.”

    Still, in matters of public concern, it’s important to state your position publically and strongly, but, to quote John Adams, “em ipsam die, mitte male loqui, which may be justly translated, speak out the whole truth boldly, but use no bad language.”

  13. I, too, am in a similar boat with the majority of my political beliefs. I often say I am a gun-toting tree-hugger. Though I like to think of myself more as a moderate as both sides go too far to their extremes. I believe in the Constitution and our right to keep and bear arms as one of its fundamentals.

    With that said, most liberals I know are not that opinionated on guns. Most are not really that against them. Most are just uninformed and somewhat scared of them. When you are scared of something, you don’t want it around you. There are gut reactions to bad things happening and a need to place blame on something. Most liberals I know can be persuaded to understand my sentiments on guns and gun control. They too believe in the Constitution, just a slightly different interpretation sometimes. It is usually the extreme left wing politicians who are trying to make a name for themselves that talk about gun control seriously.

    Sadly, I think it is the sometimes overbearing “pry it from my cold dead hand” types that create those gut reactions among liberals. The same feeling you have to the “commie liberals” is the way they feel about the “redneck gun toter” because you don’t understand each other very well. A more reasoned discourse is a better way to handle things. People can be made to understand without blustering bravado. I hear what people say on the internet and at my local gun club and it usually makes me cringe. Because instead of converting someone to your cause, they are often pushed away towards the opposition.

    Thanks for this article. I know there are plenty of liberals/lefties/democrats/independents that believe in gun ownership and that’s a good thing to highlight.

  14. “similar-minded, quiet, introverted sheepdogs”

    I’m none of the above and neither are most academics, but you’re still welcome here.

  15. Welcome to CCW. I’m as liberal as Paul Ryan, but I live and work in SoCal. Life is indeed full of contradictions. However, I sincerely doubt a vote for Obama / Holder / Pelosi / Bloomberg / Feinstein (insert left politician) will improve your ability to exercise your 2nd Amendment rights.

    I enjoyed your article, and appreciate your support of the 2A, responsible gun ownership, and concealed carry.

  16. A liberal, is a liberal, is a liberal! While you are all calling him brother, slapping him and yourselves on the back, him for having a pistol, and you for being so accepting. I am wondering what his ulterior motives are in placing this here.

    The quickest way to disarm someone is to proclaim yourself an allie. Now that all of you have been disarmed, what nasty little trick does he have up his sleeve? I trust no one that claims to support the Imposter in Charge. How many of you have come in here bad mouthed the HNIC, and stated very vociferasly, that you don’t trust this administration?

    Now because this guy says he is pro-gun, he is your “…brother…”? Hypocrates, all of you are hypocrates. It cannot be both ways. I dare say if you scratch just a little deeper, you are going to find a plan to do away with your guns, but not his, if in fact he even has a firearm.

    You can spray a pile of garbage with all of the rose water you want to. The reality is, you still have a pile of garbage. He SUPPORTS the imposter! That alone should make you hold him at arms length. You folks are looking for allies in all the wrong places. If the proverbial shtf, he his going to turn on you in a heart beat. His idiology is not supportive of the Constitution, nor of the Bill of Rights.

    Trust him if you want, but don’t be surprised when his true tempermant imerges
    and bites all of you in the a_ _. Just remember that when an animal gets rabies, it must first incubate. The animal seems normal enough at first. But even then one bite can kill you. Liberalism is the same way, it is a disease. Remember this guy stated he supports, the Imposter in Charge. What is there to trust?

    • Trust is earned, and this administration has not earned mine. Ultimately, TTAG is about firearms, the 2A, and responsible gun ownership. TTAG is a brotherhood of firearms, and not a specific political or religious affiliation. RF, correct me if I’m wrong.

      I don’t believe it would be appropriate to speak harshly of someone who supports TTAG and the 1st A and 2A. I’ve said nasty things to liberals, some of which I have apologized for later.
      My father is liberal, and he was the first person to teach me how to shoot, and flushed an 8 PT buck out of the woods – my first deer. There have been times when I have vehemently disagreed with my father’s beliefs, but I still love and respect him. Does that make me a hypocrite?

    • Is this a joke post? It’s like a typical right-wing caricature. So much so, in fact, that I’m inclined to believe it’s fake.



    • I long for days when we can be thoughtful and principled in our political stances while still respecting each other enough to be civil.

    • The half of the people who voted in the 2008 election for Obama are not all raving progressives. Cut the guy a break. He probably was duped like many people. He’ll come around. Many people who think they are liberals just haven’t caught on to the radical progressives that have taken over the national Democratic party.

  17. Professor,

    Welcome to the fold from an academic in MA (with the same CCW problem on campus.) I hope to hear more from you.

  18. Thank you for this article. I’m a damned Yankee transplant to Virginia, hold a CHP and am finally preparing to get my doctorate. I agree with many of your points here. In particular I liked your description of the mind-shift inherent in putting a loaded firearm on your person every day. People who did not come to the habit of wearing a gun daily later in life – who grew up with it, so to speak – may not realize how strange and powerful that mind-shift can seem.

    I also squirm but cannot evade the truth that others have mentioned in their responses to this article; i.e., that I need to talk about my 2A stance more often with my liberal and moderate acquaintances. It is NOT easy. As you said, the sheepdogs will often be catalogued with the wolves, and that’s a frustrating phenomenon. But, it’s not just that – it’s the condescension from these friends and acquaintances that gets on my nerves the most, the conclusion that by strapping on a pistol my IQ has dropped 40 points, and that a backyard still is no doubt around the corner for me. But, that’s my cross, and I’ll carry it.

    I also hope that we’ll be hearing more from you; perhaps your comments will encourage more of us atypical 2A supporters to write and submit analogous pieces.

  19. Nice essay. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t be a liberal gun owner. If we had more liberals who actually believed in individual freedom, not only would the second amendment be more secure, but we wouldn’t have laws like the Patriot Act and the NDAA.

  20. “His idiology is not supportive of the Constitution, nor of the Bill of Rights.”

    Would you honestly say that conservative ideology supports all of our Constitutional freedoms? There’s a reason the mainstream of the GOP his trying to marginalize the Ron Paul people.

    • “Would you honestly say that conservative ideology supports all of our Constitutional freedoms?”

      Yes. You’re confusing “conservative” with “Republican.” Classically liberal ideology supports Constitutional freedoms also, but these days “liberal” is confused with “Progressive.” Both modern Republicans and Progressives both slaughter the Constitution.

      • Silver — Ron Paul is treated almost like a pariah by most of the conservative thought leaders out there (National Review, Weekly Standard, Fox News, almost any conservative web site or talk radio host you want to mention). There’s a reason for this… “Freedom” is a conservative mantra with only limited real world application. Sad, but true. I hope we can change this.

  21. Nice article. I’m liberal as well, though not an academic. There are more liberal gun owners than the right wing wants to believe. We own guns, and don’t stop with the 2nd when it comes to Amendments that we fully support.

    • I wonder if this is why the DMC is steering clear at the national level regarding any talk about guns? I don’t mean it as a put down or anything, but from a political stance is makes a lot of sense. Sure local mayors, even some governors have stood up and screamed, but on the national level unless it is someone from a solid blue state they prefer to leave the room at the first mention of gun control.

  22. I dunno, at first I want to claim how just because one owns a gun and carries it, that doesn’t make one a true ally to the 2A, or the Constitution and liberty on a large scale. Support for Obama pretty much negates any validity in that claim (no, I don’t think Romney is a good choice either, for those contentious types eager to flip it). Heck, you’ll find plenty of examples of why even hunters can’t be counted on as allies.

    True support for the 2A or any part of the Constitution has to go deeper. The 2A isn’t just about carrying guns…you have to recognize the reason that Amendment was written, the worries the founding fathers had, etc. If you claim support for the 2A and the Constitution and in the same breath support an administration that actively works against the ideals the 2A was created to protect, whether right or left, you don’t do the Amendment justice. Therein lies the true contradiction.

    But, this blog is about guns not barebones politics, so good on you for at least taking up arms, so to speak. While Paul up there took a bit too great a stride off the deep end, I do remember in my college days some “reporters” pretending to act a certain way so they could conduct a “social experiment” that mocks the people they were studying.

    I’m not saying “burn the libruhl!” or any such, I’m just saying I can understand some people who might act with a healthy degree of skepticism, the same way some of us treat interactions in everyday life. Gun rights advocates are constantly on the defensive, enemies wanting manufactured “common sense” and one-sided “compromises” at every turn. Can’t blame some for being wary.

  23. Professor, welcome to TTAG.
    Thirty or forty years ago, I think if this sight would have existed the questions would be 2A related but not as much partisanship as we see today. Simply put the left and right weren’t so polarized on 2A issues. There are many “liberals” we can call them democrats out there who believe in their right to keep and bare arms. It has only come about in the last ten to twenty years that local states have really tried to get more anti-gun legislation in place. To that end many states as a whole have gone shall issue. It seems the most blue states, DC / CA have the strictest gun laws.

    I was born and raised a liberal, and until about two weeks ago was a registered democrat. I voted for Obama in the last election as well as Pelosi, and Mrs. Feinstein. I was for the most part very left of center. I had lived in Israel for the better part of a decade so Socialism wasn’t new to me and I wasn’t frightened of it.

    Well then I found TTAG. I also started looking at other things as well. There was no ah ha moment when a light went on. In fact I am still at odds with the RNC on a number of issues. Still as being born a liberal I can totally relate.

    As such I have felt the demonetization of guns, and gun owners as a whole has been miss guided. They are trying to fix crime by banning guns, but that doesn’t stop crime. Sure we can bat about numbers on gun crime in America, and spend hours analyzing numbers, and how they stack up, but in reality, we just don’t wan to get robbed on our way to work in the morning or get assaulted on our way home from a movie at night. Am I right here? So it shouldn’t be how do we get guns off our streets, but how do we fix the crime problem. This is not easily answered yet the liberals think that banning a gun which is used in less than three percent of all gun related crimes is the way to go. Make sense to you? Me neither…

  24. First off, that’s awesome that you’ve come to the fold. Don’t take what follows as an insult.

    “You may see that as a contradiction. I know many who see my choices as contradictory. And I say to them, and perhaps you, [sic] life is filled with contradictions . . ”
    Maybe my life is filled with contradictions, maybe not. As a human being I’ll be the first to admit that there is no way I’m perfect. However, the point is you didn’t answer the question and instead just deflected the argument. It is a contradiction (not just that I “see” it as one, it IS one) because those politicians have a very long history of being anti-gun from the local level all the way to the presidency. I have a very serious problem with that. Being pro-2a shouldn’t be anymore a political thing then being pro-1a is. It’s an American thing, period.

  25. Seriously guys? “Don’t worry, you will be conservative soon! LAWL!” Is very disrespectful. It’s like if an atheist became a Buddhist and you were all like “Oh, well you have discovered spirituality, you will be christian soon buddy! :D”

    I’m a liberal gun nut, and the fact that I love guns and think about them ALMOST as much as I think of ladies does not mean I’ll magically think that gays cannot marry, or want to outlaw abortion, or for some reason start hating socialized medicine.

    • I do get your point. There should be room at the table for 2A conversation for everyone. I can now say I have been on both sides of the political fence.
      As such we all have our own opinions on social wedge issues. 2A really is a wedge issue, even though it shouldn’t be. Just like freedom of religion or freedom of speech. It shouldn’t be taken for granted but surely not infringed upon either. You don’t hear politicians running on a 1A wedge issue much now do you.

      Please don’t take this the wrong way, but the far left has made 2A a social wedge issue. By allowing local state governments to act willy nilly with how they choose to except 2A, it has made it a wedge issue. For those who live in gun friendly states it isn’t as big of an issue, but ask any 2A loving person in NYC, CA, or Chicago what they think and you will probably hear a lot of huffing and puffing as they try and calm themselves down!

      I think there is even room for rational debate on gun control. Yes I know that is a hot button item here on TTAG. I think the main reason behind that is that the gun control advocates have let it slip more than once that they want to ban and confiscate all guns period. So we in turn say, well we won’t give an inch then.

    • I agree with you 100%. I consider myself independent but definitely more left-leaning than right-leaning simply because I view the left as the lesser of the two evils. If the right can stop with the “Jaysus says…” and actually not intrude on people’s lives then I could see myself leaning more right. Of course, I don’t actually see that happening until they lose to Obama… again.

  26. You are not alone … unfortunately I live in the land of no carry. Hopefully that will change some day in my lifetime.

  27. A reply to the sheepdog worship I read every time this comes up:

    I’m slightly amused, but more troubled than anything, by the several “sheep/sheepdog/wolf” comments posted here.

    No doubt, these commenters take their inspiration and their terminology from the pro-State essay, “On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs” written by Dave Grossman (

    In this essay, Mr. Grossman extols the virtues of the State and its benevolence by way of sending out swarms of enforcers – which he lovingly terms “Sheepdogs” – to protect us “sheep” from the “wolves”.

    My amusement comes mainly from those adopting that terminology and their failure to see the irony in that which they apparently hold dear.

    Statements that members of the enforcer caste see people as “sheep” – animals that are herded and controlled from birth until death – should be more than a little disturbing. Politically speaking, “sheep” is generally a derogatory term used to identify those who blindly do or repeat anything someone with a spotlight and a teleprompter tell them.

    The idea that those above identify themselves as the “sheepdogs” is the funny part. They apparently imagine themselves to be some noble beast, doing a thankless duty, protecting the sheep from the evils of the world. Look in your closets. If you don’t see a State-issued costume with some shiny things to pin to the chest of it after you’ve put it on, you are not a “sheepdog”. All you are is a sheep with a gun. A real sheepdog will come along some day and show you how the world really works.

    Now the troubling part. To keep using the same terminology:

    Don’t forget – the “sheepdog” works for the Shepherd. The Shepherd is the one who nurtures and cares for the sheep, from birth to death, ruthlessly extracting every ounce of energy and utility from the animals as recompense for his efforts. When there is no more energy or utility to be had from the animal, the shepherd slaughters the animal and harvests its carcass – the final statement that the Shepherd owns the sheep, body and soul, and will do with it as he pleases.

    It’s troubling because, coming from those who visit a pro-gun site and espouse the virtues of freedom and liberty whilst decrying the efforts of [THE OTHER] to strip us of our freedoms, you actually endorse and personify the same mindset that feeds the beliefs of [THE OTHER].

    The only difference between your State worship and the Anti’s State worship is that, while [THEY] may desire a matriarchal Nanny State to nurture and care for us all from cradle to grave by strictly regulating every facet of our day to day lives, punishing us with heavy fines and lengthy imprisonment for even the most minor of transgressions, all you’re endorsing is a paternalistic Father State that also regulates our day to day lives, but punishes transgressions with bullet holes, beat downs, tazers and all the rest.

    Police are not “sheepdogs”. They’re wolves on leashes.

    Enough with the State worship.

  28. Yes, a very welcome post. I’m a progressive intellectual who carries, and who thinks that all of the rights in Bill of Rights should be held dearly (and the 2nd is doing better than some, this last decade…). That only looks like a contradiction from a very narrow and distant view.

    The problem of the idea of a political spectrum is that it’s one-dimensional, a line. Not much meaning or room for thought there–just linear distance. I’d say a 3-dimensional political space might be a more comprehensive metaphor, where you could show broad agreement, across parties and beliefs, that everyone has the right to defend oneself. Most Americans don’t own guns; but most of them still believe in our right to bear arms.

  29. “We have to pass stronger gun laws in this state,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel told U.S. News after another bloody week in the City of Big Shoulders (and even bigger body counts). “We’re not talking about repealing conceal/carry, but making sure we have a tougher set of laws dealing with assault weapons and other types of guns.” Well of course you are. Something must be done! Last weekend’s tally: nine dead, 37 wounded removes any doubt! And what better way to tackle the problem of gang-banger-on-gang-banger shootings than banning assault weapons ‘n stuff, leaving untouched Prairie staters’ right to carry a concealed weapon to protect themselves from the ballistic mayhem. Wait, what? Isn’t Chicago . . .

  30. re: the comment about yale university above. i’ve been on the yale campus with a gun, openly worn, as an armoured truck guard. even in a uniform that proclaimed my legitimate status, and reason to be armed i got “the evil eye” from passing students and faculty along with “if i don’t look at him he isn’t really there”. i found it amusing. i’m retired now, but still armed. politically i’m the old guard “right wing extremist” a gun collector who voted for barry goldwater. i don’t “hate” or even seriously dislike liberals as a rule. my issues are with the far left crowd who would tear down our society for some imagined “utopia” where the nomenklatura live above, in the sun and air, while the proles shuffle to labour in the mills under the watch of the apparatchiki, as in fritz lang’s “metropolis”. “liberals with guns” why not, as long as we both respect each others freedom and rights, including the unwritten but real right to disagree.
    (yes, i know, lang intended his film as an indictment of capitalism, but it portrayed a perfect marxist hell.)

    • Barry Goldwater is my favorite Republican.

      Next time you come to Arizona for a vacation please feel free to bring your guns and carry them in any manner you choose.

    • +1 on what you said. The author of the article stated that he voted for Obummer. I wonder if he will vote to re-elect? I know many libs who think he broke every promise made (right AND left of the political spectrum) and will not support him this time. They made such a stink over the waterboarding of THREE individuals (one of whom was the 20th highjacker on 9/11 and looked like porn star Ron Jeremy in a dirty nightshirt), yet, so much silence over the buzzing of the drones that have KILLED so many…including many innocents (dont get me wrong, this is the only aspect of Obamas tenure I admire).

  31. @ “the other derek”,
    thank you for the invitation, i’m in vermont, so i can own and carry as i please. no “permit” or “license” issued or required since a state supreme court ruling in 1903 citing article 16 of our state constitution, striking down a local city ordinance that required a “permit to carry a pistol or revolver”. that ruling is still in effect. i’ve been to arizona, taking one of mr. ryder’s trucks, a 24 footer, out about 8 miles into the desert just outside of a little village west of kingman. (and drove it back out again, no problem.) age and geography preclude my making that trip again, but if you ever visit vermont we’ll be happy to share our freedom with you here.

  32. Thanks for that, Mr. Rowley.

    As a Southern liberal (Southern by birth, liberal by choice, to borrow a phrase), your thoughts and, even more, the tone of your post resonates with me. People who have known me a long time are often surprised when they find out I’m politically liberal. They give me this quizzical look and say, “You? You’re a liberal?” I usually say, lightheartedly, “Yes, I’m the kind of liberal who’ll knock you on your ass if you say I don’t love my country,” and then follow up with more measured thoughts on the subject — if the interest is there.

    The idea of “voting my guns,” as someone upthread suggested, is repellent to me. Just like any other kind of single-issue voting. As a human being trying to live a decent life without kidding myself that the choices we’re presented are black-and-white, I vote my conscience. My whole conscience. There are no clean options. No candidates I can get behind 100%. No candidates I can feel righteous about. There are only candidates who are terribly flawed in one way vs. candidates who are terribly flawed in another. The best we can hope for is that the lesser evil, as best we can discern it, wins out.

    Too many of our fellow liberals are what I call “gated-community liberals.” It’s something like the way most vegetarians are one extended power outage away from loving fried chicken and gravy. In both cases, there’s a loss of connection with underlying realities of human life in the world. Sometimes it’s harmless; sometimes not. That said, I find liberal policies still the lesser of the two available evils in this country; more so now than ever before in my lifetime (sadly not because liberalism is especially good at the moment).

    Anyway, thanks for your thoughts, and for the way you expressed them. I’ll be reading along with interest.


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