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By Amfivena

I like guns. I have always liked guns. I appreciate them for their history, aesthetics and engineering. I enjoy shooting guns, smelling the burnt powder and cleaning them afterwards. I even enjoy just holding and looking at guns. No doubt most readers share my sentiments. The problem is I grew up in an anti-gun family in an anti-gun state. So, for most of my life this interest in guns was a guilty pleasure. The guns I owned were hidden from friends and family, treated like a porno collection under the mattress. I never really questioned why I felt guilty . . .

Living in a safe, wealthy suburb meant I never saw any practical and positive application for guns. The people around me didn’t hunt and weren’t victims of violent crime. Mainstream media told me guns were bad and the source of all sorts of problems. I believed them. I even wished we could be more like Britain or Australia. Without giving it any thought I had accepted the mantra of gun control.

The Virginia Tech massacre was the first time I was forced to critically think about the fact I could be a victim. My time in Blacksburg was during the Clinton years. I was long gone by 2007, but the attack was still personal. It disturbed me in ways that reports of violence never had before. I dated a woman in the dorm where the violence started and took classes in the building where most of the carnage took place. I distinctly remember feeling uncomfortable with the calls for more gun laws. At that point in time, I was still firmly in the ‘guns are bad’ camp. But, for the first time, I finally began to think about the issue.

I taught American politics in Canada for a couple years after the VT attack. When I teach I make a point of helping students form their own opinions about important issues. I do my best not to tell students what to think and my grading rewards forming and supporting strong opinions. I like controversial subjects because they always engage the most students. A three-way discussion between me and two students who are destined for an A grade, while 17 others snooze, does not strike me as effective teaching. You need topics like drugs, guns or sex to get the back row to wake up and participate. Despite my views to the contrary, I spent many a class helping Catholic or Muslim students feel confident enough to speak out against gay marriage.

I found most Canadian students view the Second Amendment in the same light as fugitive slave laws – outdated and barbaric. The overwhelming view of my students was that the USA is a violent place because of the Second Amendment. At first, I can’t say I completely disagreed.

In every class there were a few Canadians that held a minority view. I generally dismissed them as ‘gun-nuts’. Yes, that was hypocritical given my own secret interests. My self-imposed duty to always present both sides forced me to take them seriously though.

Over a few semesters I dug into the history of the Second Amendment looking for material to present both sides. I soon found myself making a case for the Second Amendment and actually believing the words coming out of my mouth. I also found myself somewhat proud to call it my own as an American. It is indicative of the bias inside the academic bubble that my new-found knowledge still stirred guilty feelings.

I returned to the US a modest supporter of the Second Amendment. I was generally in favor of civilian ownership of firearms, but still all too willing to randomly outlaw something in the interest of the greater good. An improvement for sure – but I was still more enemy than friend to the cause.

I continued to teach and always looked forward to discussing guns. I developed stronger opinions on the importance of the Second Amendment with each passing semester. Despite this, my views on gun control remained mushy. At this point I fully understood the geographic distribution of violence and crime. But I cared about human life. The daily body count in our cities bothered me. I wanted to ‘do something’, even if the problem mostly occurred somewhere other than my home in Northern New England. I remained willing to sacrifice my liberty if it might help others.

It took the Sandy Hook massacre for me to fully reconcile my conflicting views on guns. My daughter was the same age as most of the victims. So, like the Virginia Tech incident, news of the attack was profoundly disconcerting despite the fact it had no direct impact on my life.

The inevitable calls for more laws and more gun free zones suddenly made no sense to me. Mainstream media shouted ‘we’ve got to do something!’ For the first time in my life I asked the question; how will punishing law-abiding Americans make any difference to people willing to kill? Thankfully, the internet enabled me to see that others were asking the same question (shout out to TTAG).

With each passing year I became more passionate about the futility of gun control. The repetitive calls to restrict the law-abiding became insulting. I own a number of guns. I have never so much as willfully pointed one at another human being, let alone actually shot anyone.

My guns are not the problem. The 300 million guns owned by law abiding Americans are not the problem. I care about human life and still want to do something about it. But, nothing will change as long as we allow the leaders of American cities to deflect blame. African Americans and the urban poor continue to suffer because it is considered racist to point out the real problems. It is easier and safer for politicians to blame someone else. This makes me angry. My guns no longer make me feel guilty.

The good news is that I have noticed a trend in my classes. Each semester I find more students arriving with an understanding of the Second Amendment, why it is important and a willingness to reject more laws restricting guns. In fact, it is increasingly difficult to find anyone willing to support gun control in my classes. Those students who do speak up for gun control generally spout the same old talking-points with little conviction.

Class discussions usually start with a focus on self-defense and hunting. Which are certainly important aspects of our right to ‘keep and bare’. However, I am pleased by the fact I no longer need to bring up the topic of armed insurrection. A student, usually a veteran, unfailingly performs this task for me. I am comforted by the fact I know a dozen or so former students (with infantry, Ranger and Marine service) who recognize that civilian arms are the peoples’ fail-safe against out-of-control government. The future of the Second Amendment looks sound, at least in my little corner of the country.

The recent legislation in New Hampshire and Maine to end the permit requirement for carrying concealed handguns helped me understand the degree to which my views had evolved. Initially I was uncomfortable with the prospect of eliminating the permit requirement. As I thought about, I couldn’t muster any concrete reason why mandating permits made sense.

It is unfortunate the legislation was vetoed in New Hampshire. However, I look forward to the fresh breeze of liberty when LD 652 becomes law in Maine this October.

In conclusion, I can say that my support of the Second Amendment is now entirely free of ‘buts’. Unfortunately, my views are still verboten in academia. I like teaching and want to keep my non-tenured job. So, I regrettably submit this contest entry under my comments moniker.


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      • This article was inspiring and it highlights an important point: it takes facts and time for people to change.


    • Yep. Speaking as a former very committed leftist, It’s always good to see another academic finally get his mind right. Despite the profound sadness and subsequent pro-gun realizations caused by events like Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook, the real iconic event that separates us from the rest of the world is Concord Bridge. America is a revolutionary society and its strength comes directly from the reality and political implications of an armed citizenry. As statist progressives are learning, those roots run deep. Bundy Ranch is a modern example of the depth of those roots.

  1. It’s always pleasant to hear those whose job is to think critically, think critically. Good on the author. I like reading stories like this.

  2. Awesome write up. I think more people than we realize are moving into the “angry, no longer guilty” phase, and realizing the PC movement is intellectually bankrupt and fundamentally unAmerican. I’m glad the OP refuses to weaken the students minds with their contemptable language and culture of failure, wish there were more like him.

  3. Congratulations and welcome to the club! I, too, was very familiar with the crime scenes in Blacksburg, although I was long gone before the Carter years (class of ’69).

    OTOH, prof, generally speaking you do not have a right to “bare” arms, you need to keep that gat holstered unless needed!

    • My mistake! I looked at version tracking in Word and the mistake was consistent throughout. So, I can’t blame auto-correct, spell checker or a TTAG editor. I therefore must bear full responsibility for the error.

      • I feel for you, bro. I’m a writer by profession. When wet behind the ears and eager to see my name in print, I grabbed the latest edition. I was regularly crushed when I saw errors in my articles. The mistake was the first thing I saw. It was as if my eyes were drawn to them.

        So I adopted this procedure: I stopped looking at the magazine until it had been in readers’ hands and on the newsstand for at least two weeks. If no one had complained in that time, I figured the mistake wasn’t all that important. And I don’t read the comments on my ‘net stories. (Maybe a quick scan to see if I’d misspelled someone’s name.)
        P.S. Be careful with your nome de guerre. Teens are great at deciphering those things. My 21-year-old daughter decoded mine in no time.

  4. “The guns I owned were hidden from friends and family, treated like a porno collection under the mattress. I never really questioned why I felt guilty . . .”
    And now we know where the term ammosexual comes from!?!

  5. Nothing says “We are intelligent” like squelching dissent. Why is it the more I see of academia the more I grow jaded of it? I guess there’s no one thing.

    I do love college, though. I’ll miss it again when I graduate with my master’s. Luckily for me that still means two more years to enjoy the high points before I’ll probably not darken the doors of higher ed until my kids get there. 🙂

    Thanks for all you do, Sir! Great article.

  6. That a law abiding person would need to use a pseudonym to celebrate freedom. The irony of America. Damn……

  7. OP’s cataloged the move away from gun culture in the urban areas of America, not a change in the need for guns, or their possession.

  8. That was a bush-league someecard, it has a target-rich environment and wide latitude in target acquisition and execution authority.

    • I did not select the graphic, though I’m fine with the editorial choice. I almost sent along a picture of one of my handguns on a stack of journals. I chickened out at the last minute as I didn’t want it to be construed that I might have had a gun on campus. Trust me when I say you would all prefer me teaching to whomever they would get to replace me if I was fired.

  9. This is a phenomenal example of the trend I think all of us are seeing. 10 years ago liberals could could bashed gun rights and gun owners with the same confidence with which pastors disparaged homosexuality from the pulpit. A decade later, the orthodoxy is shifting on both issues. People are less likely to make sweeping generalizations and ignorant moral declarations precisely because they fear saying these things in the presence of a more informed individual who actually has the experience and knowledge to challenge their poorly supported beliefs. The trends are really heading the direction of gun rights right now, and even though the culture is changing in other ways, gun rights seem to be very much in the ascendency.

  10. The REAL Truth About Guns is that the truth shall set you free.
    One only needs to open their eyes to actually see the truth.
    My journey also began with Sandy Hook. Though it was my daughter’s questions, for which I had no answers, which opened my eyes.
    Thank you TTAG

    • Sandy Hook put firearms back into the forefront of my interests as well. I remember watching the TV and feeling pretty helpless, and knowing at that point this meant more cries and rallies for gun control that would do nothing to solve the real problems. I left the room where we were watching live coverage on the news and I picked up my .22 and got reacquainted with an old hobby.

  11. It is a common evolution of a thinking person with the smallest of cognitive abilities of reason , to drift slowly from liberal to conservative as they mature . All it takes is the above skill accompanied by a willingness to ponder and question reality without stubborn predisposition . When we grow older we usually see things in a more literal and logical light , we dispose of allegory and approach issues face on . This inherently leads to self examination and responsibilities , which opens the door to conservatism .
    I hope the trend you spoke of where more young people are exposed and learning their constitutional rights is truly a trend and grows quickly , we really need this to be an explosion

  12. The author hints at the real problem of gun control advocates, but does not come right out and say it. The facts are in our national demographics. When you exclude the two largest minority groups (black and Latino) from the equation, the crime problem in the USA is no worse than in other developed countries which have stricter gun laws. This is an ugly truth the left does not want to discuss because they fear it implies there might be fundamental problems within these minorities that other ethnic groups do not exhibit. For a progressive, such thoughts are tantamount to bigotry and racism. And as we all know, the left is not judgmental, therefore they cannot see beyond surface color and appearance to delve into the core problems. If they had the moral courage and resolve to dig deeper, they’d realize that skin tone and ethnicity are not causal factors of behavior; they are at best casual factors. People who behave badly do so because they have been raised in a culture and environment that promotes the wrong values. It is is not innate in their DNA, just as being liberal is not innate. Bad thinking, and by extension, bad behavior, can be corrected, given the proper time, resources, and will power. But anyone who believes a helpful, benevolent government is the best way to fix broken cultures should heed the warning of Henry Ford, “Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting the government take care of him better take a closer look at the American Indian.”

    • Definitely a culture problem. Throwing more free money at it, and allowing the mass media to actively deflect responsibility away from it are not helping.

  13. The Left’s campaign of persecution has been a success. Can’t even speak his mind with his real name… “Rights for me but no for thee.” Nothing describes democrats better… We don’t have a 1st Amendment, only they do.

  14. I hate to be a wet blanket after such a good post, but I still have to ask Amfivena: Now that you are a 2A supporter, do you still vote for the same “liberal” pols who would destroy it?

    • I have always been more concerned about character than platforms when voting. Our political process works best when elected representatives are willing and able to build a consensus. I vote for people I think are willing to do this. I have regularly voted for both major parties, minor parties and independents (I voted for Obama, then Romney). I tend to vote against the incumbent. Disclaimer: I did spend a year-or-so hanging out with a Green Party candidate for the sole purpose of meeting women. After some success, I let the upstairs brain return to making my choices in the ballot box.

      As for the 2A and voting: It has changed who I vote for, although not dramatically. I have never been one to push the ‘D’ button. Gun politics used to be background noise when I evaluated candidates. Now I see calls for gun control as a common predictor of other problems.

  15. How you believe is tied to what you believe: the process is part of the belief.

    “My self-imposed duty to always present both sides forced me to take them seriously though. Over a few semesters I dug into the history of the Second Amendment looking for material to present both sides.”

    Progressives tend to not do this hence why they are progressives. When they start their beliefs often change. How you get “there” matters as often the path or vehicle determines the destination.

  16. You took my query Ralph-and to those of you who insist the 2 big parties are exactly the same I would ask the same question…most “liberals” never “get it”…

    • I don’t know many people who assert that the R’s and D’s are exactly the same, but there’s a pretty good argument to be made that, no matter who gets elected, in the long run the results are pretty much the same. That’s because both parties have the same end-goal: consolidating and increasing their power above all else. Individual candidates may truly believe in things like individual responsibility and liberty, but neither party as a whole can tolerate such things, because they are a threat to their control of the citizenry.

      In the long run, there may be a few differences around hot-button topics like guns or abortion, but more often than not, those issues are used as a sideshow distraction while backroom deals are cut that further erode the principles the country was founded on. Look at our history at least since WWII – there has been an almost constant increase in government scope and power, no matter which party was in power. It’s almost as though the choice of R or D is a mostly-false dichotomy, and the real people pulling the strings behind the scenes don’t care who we root for, since they own both teams…

      I’m not saying that voting pro-gun doesn’t help. It surely does. But I believe that the only reason the Republican party is pro-gun is because voters tend to hold their feet to the fire over it. If we didn’t yell so loudly about it, the GOP would be almost as eager as the Democrats to eliminate private gun ownership, since it would make the job of slowly turning this country to fascism (and I mean that in the proper historical sense, not in the knee-jerk way the word “fascist” is thrown around) that much easier.

      • Stinkeye, they’re pretty spot on when they say the end result is the same. Dems seem to be after big government and republicans are more for big business.
        I don’t remember who it was, but once they made it so corporations were people, too, our country went WAY down hill. Watching an interview with Jesse Ventura on Piers Morgan, Ventura said that all a country would have to do to take over our country would be to set up a false business here in the US and funnel money through it to our politicians and we’d gladly hand it over to them without realizing it.

        • Big business is equal to big government anyway. Big business loves big government: it means that when it bribes lobbies it, it can get a lot for its money.

          Being sponsored by big business was one of the main reasons why fascists and Nazis have outcompeted socialists and communists in Italy and Germany back in the day, despite popular support being roughly equal for both at the starting point.

  17. Very inspiring article. I’m most interested in the part where you point out that more and more of your students understand the 2A. This is profound because we live in a time where more mass media time, effort, and money is spent to “brainwash” people against guns. It’s flat out not working. That simply must be an effect of social media.

    • Mass media is consumed less and less each day. The MSM is losing followers precipitously.

      While the lack of a big three network situation results in a net loss for societal homogeneity it benefits net liberty in that whatever information a person wants a person can get free of barriers. For now.

      • “Mass media is consumed less and less each day. The MSM is losing followers precipitously.”

        And the process increases speed every time social media catches them in an outright lie.

    • As others have already responded, it is primarily the internet – new media, social media, blogs, forums, etc. The big networks and academic journals are not going to concede the truth on guns anytime soon.

      I also think the last decade plus of war has had a big impact. My veteran students have shared that their passion for liberty grew with each deployment. There are hundreds of thousands of veterans with multiple deployments. I think the cycle of deploy/return/deploy/return has a unique influence on people. This pattern of deployment over such a long period of time is new in American military history. I think it will ultimately prove to have a profound and positive effect on our country.

      • People like Jon Stewart have had a big impact, too, with their habit of doing their best to humiliate people caught in lies, making use of actual information rather than just media spin to do so. Even Ellen Degeneres often ran with raw data to assault idiotic positions. And despite their obvious leanings, when people to whom others listen demonstrate how effective getting to the actual truth can be, that practice doesn’t remain within the bounds within which they may keep it; instead it runs wherever those who adopt its use decide to go.

  18. To me, events like Newton and VT boil down to one idea; If you or someone you loved were there when there was shooting going on, would you want there to be someone there who could defend them or deter an attack from even happening. Despite the spin that the media puts on it, how many people would a “good guy” have to kill accidentally in such a scenario before you even had a net loss in lives saved. The issue we have as advocates of personal protection is that if a gun takes a life, it’s absolute. There’s no debate to it. If a gun saves a life, it can be very challenging to measure and something that can be down played or swept under the rug.

  19. Culture / opinion hasn’t changed. We just didn’t ask them and we let them talk about it all they wanted because their opinion (even in a new broadcast where they are attempting to proclaim that by “poll” they speak for “us”) doesn’t mean sh_t.

    When anyone finally gets around to asking us, the opinion on guns is the same, as is our opinion on homosexuality. No one decides for us on either, and if they haven’t gotten around to ‘enforcing’ their bs on either issue, be apprised that we haven’t finished pushing-back.

    Remember, “silence does not constitute consent. Silence is, rather, what the firing squad gives you a few moments of, before they give you an eternity of it.” [TERMS, J.M. Thomas R., 2012, pg. 45]

  20. “Each semester I find more students arriving with an understanding of the Second Amendment, why it is important and a willingness to reject more laws restricting guns. In fact, it is increasingly difficult to find anyone willing to support gun control in my classes.”

    Glory hallelujah!

  21. What a coincidence– I was familiar with guns and had done some shooting, but didn’t get serious about them until the Virginia Tech thing. A week after the event, I scheduled my CCW class, bought a 1911, and hired some training. Carried every day since I got the CCW.

  22. Great article, professor! As a teacher on the opposite end (both in age and geography), I definitely sympathize with your situation. I’m definitely pro-2A, but I try to let students speak that viewpoint themselves rather me imposing it on them. My students are generally a bright lot; they give me hope.

  23. It was great to read your responses. For me as well it really was Sandy Hook that caused me to question why we see continued calls for more gun control rather than focusing on how to actually stop violent criminals. Sandy Hook really was my tipping point into being what some of my very liberal friends would describe as a “gun nut”.

    I hope that more and more young people will see this as a real issue and not cave into the pandering of politicians who claim that restrictions will have any real impact on the actions of criminals or the mentally ill.

    The number of combat veterans who have been returning from their service abroad is definitely going to shape that generation and their thoughts.

  24. Great article. Something the anti’s well never seem to understand is how the liberal response to Sandy hook woke up so many of us gun interested but uninvolved people.

  25. When only the government agents wearing Hugo Boss uniforms are allowed to have guns and my evil fellow citizens have been turned into serfs and are now in an educational camp for their own protection; will I feel safe.
    Freedom from want.
    Freedom from fear.
    Freedom from Freedom.
    Only when we embrace slavery, will we be free.
    Freedom is slavery!


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