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So tomorrow I’ll submit my review of Dan Baum’s Gun Guys, A Road Trip. Just so you know it won’t be a whitewash, here’s an email from TTAG reader totenglocke: “In his interview with the WSJ, Baum blames all gun owners for violent crime and insists that law abiding gun owners must be held responsible for the crimes of a handful of people.  This interview (and others that exist) show that Dan is most certainly NOT a gun rights advocate and is in fact a gun control advocate. He is merely playing the “I’m a gun owner and I support gun control” card and I’m assuming that TTAG is not aware of his anti-gun statements due to your promotion of his book  It might be beneficial to take a deeper look into Mr. Baum and give readers a more thorough view of his agenda.” I am aware and I will. Meanwhile, this is funny . . .

We found a place at a long table in the deep shade with two sweaty brothers named Tom and John, who wore T-shirts that read “living with a german builds character!” and “i got schützenfaced at schützen-fest.” They were eager to explain to out-of-towners that just because Cincinnati looked dull and unsophisticated didn’t mean locals didn’t know how to rock out—within reason. “It’s like that book, The Millionaire Next Door. People here live below their means. But they party! The beer consumption, the sausage consumption—it’s off the charts. People here know how to party, but they don’t get out of hand!”

“Look! You got kids here! Families! But we don’t get out of hand!”

“Hitler, you know, didn’t want to fight in the west,” Tom said suddenly. “All he wanted was lebensraum for the German people.”

Margaret and I stared at him for a long moment. Where did that come from?

Maybe it was the heat, or the beer, or the racket of the guns. Margaret suddenly stood, cocked her head toward me, and casually said to them,

“Dan here? Jewish.” Then, to me: “Gotta pee.” And off she walked.

The brothers flew into a panic. “I’ve got a Jewish friend! Great guy!”

“They say the DA of Cincinnati is Jewish! Great guy!”

A shout went up; someone had shot off the last piece of the scepter. A hearty man in full deutsche garb plunked himself down next to me and thrust out his hand. “Mike Rademacher,” he said, with Babbitt-like vigor. He had a Vandyke beard that was starting to whiten and brown eyes that sparkled behind heavy glasses. His hat was so coated with cloisonné pins, and sported a gamsbart so enormous, that it was a miracle he could hold his head upright.

“That’s one hell of a hat,” I said.

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      • Dan –

        I’m going to read your book myself, even though I’ve been quite critical of what I believe to be your views. It won’t be the first book on guns that I’ve read by a non-conservative. For instance, I thoroughly enjoyed Gunfight by the liberal law professor, Adam Winkler, despite his strikingly poor reasoning (especially for a law professor) in many sections. I also read your piece in Harper’s a couple years back (I was subscribing then, since I like to read arguments from other points of view, however frustrating it can be), and really liked it.

        I hope that your book prompts leftists to learn more about the subject of guns and even get to know more gun owners – and perhaps even write books themselves, books that try – as yours apparently does – to understand who gun owners really are and how guns really work.

      • I can let him choose the weapons ’tiss traditional, no? Any weapon any range. I personally like sabers ’till one yields or is rendered unable to fight.

  1. ‘Round here there was a case recently about a gay guy who purposefully gave AIDS to others.

    I support gay rights, but…let’s register them. They must take responsibility for their actions. Think of the children.

  2. I think totenglocke is off the mark just a bit. I’ve read the book myself, and I’ve read the WSJ article, too. What Baum is getting at is that gun owners should be doing more to encourage each other to keep our own firearms from falling into the wrong hands. He’s not saying that ALL gun owners are responsible for violent crimes committed by a handful of people. Rather, his point is that, as gun-owners, we could be doing more to promote safe storage within our community so that criminals, crazies, and even kids, don’t have easy access to our firearms.

    • Haven’t read the book yet but I agree with the sentiment that people of the gun should do more to encourage proper gun use, storage etc. Gun ownership is the great right, but it is also a great responsibility and should be embraced as such.

      This isn’t to say that things like letting the government dictate how you store your gun and paying visits to make certain are good…they aren’t for a host of reasons. Within the community however I do think we should be modeling best practices for new owners and people who don’t know what to think of guns and gun owners. If we are seen as people who take these powerful tools seriously we are more likely to win the hearts and minds of the great middle, the very people we need on our side.

      Long story alert:
      When I was a little kid my dad taught me about guns. He was a great guy and gun owner, the guns were in a safe and while he would let me see them whenever I asked I was never left alone with them. One time I went to a friends house (his parents weren’t home) and we went to the basement. There were a bunch of guns just out. I knew how to handle them responsibly and didn’t touch or play with them, but I just felt that this wasn’t right, and I still don’t. This isn’t to say the cops should have swept in and made arrests, but the guns should have been handled with more respect than that.

      • But leaving the guns out was fine since apparently your friend and you both had been properly trained. Training is the key. Locking up guns is only necessary when there’s no training.

        • My friend wasn’t properly trained. He fiddled with them, which I should have included above before the edit feature expired. And of course if someone had broken into the house he wouldn’t have had to do anything to get access to the guns.

        • Yes, there is the risk. So the parents didn’t train him. That was the problem, in my view.

        • And I don’t think we need to deprive ourselves of quick access to our guns out of fear that someone will break in and take them. We don’t lock up anything else. The money a guy can get from fencing some unlocked diamond necklaces and some unlocked televisions and unlocked iPods can get him all the firepower he wants – much more than he could steal from me.

        • Except that if someone steals your tv it is unlikely they will use it in a crime resulting in political pressure to take away my tv.

        • That’s a good point. It’s silly we have to worry about such political consequences, but you’re right that we do. All the more reason to fight those who push that cartoonish view of things on the public. Because we certainly can’t win if we accept the rules of the game they’ve chosen (where we are losers at the outset).

        • We do need to change the political game a bit, but I think being as responsible a culture as possible is a big first step. If the middle of the road folks think of gun owners as safety conscious and self policing it takes a lot of the oomph out of anti-gunner efforts to portray us a moronic knuckle-draggers in need of correction from our betters.

        • But that’s the point, Brian. Gun owners are already safety-conscious, but that doesn’t stop the gungrabbers from relentlessly portraying us as wild-eyed idiots.

          The facts just don’t matter to them.

          Now, we can try to be even safer as a group, and I fully support that effort, but we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that if there’s never another gun accident of any kind ever, that’s going to change how the gungrabbers portray us.

        • Its not how the gun grabbers portray us but how the middle of the road view us. Sadly there are enough gun owners (not necessarily “gun guys”) who aren’t smart or safe. The more we improve that the less the grabber’s allegations will stick in the minds of the MOTR. Also, to the extent the average level of safety goes up the number of incidents that make us vulnerable should go down. I agree it isn’t likely to have a huge impact because most people are already pretty safe, but every little bit helps.

      • Not that many years ago people did not lock up their guns in safes. In fact I don’t remember ever seeing a gun safe when I was a kid and nearly everyone had guns mostly hunting guns, war soveniers antiques.

        Guns were hung on racks, sometimes antler or hoof racks, or placed in cabinets that were open or at most had glass doors. I still have such a shelf made out of solid walnut that now holds only books.

        Did kids have access to the guns? You bet! Did they get in trouble with them? Well, it depends on what you call trouble. No one I knew ever was shot or anything close to that. However, they did use the guns without permission at times. I have to say I was one of those kids. In this day and age I suppose a 12 year old riding his bike with a 6.5 Arisaka slung on his back would elicit a SWAT response. Then no one ever said boo to me. BTW, that was an excellent rifle for a kid. Its proportions were about perfect for my 12 year old stature which probably about the size of a WWII era Japanese soldier.

        Times have changed. Now I wouldn’t dream of leaving guns around unlocked kids or not.

          • Glad you liked it but it is hardly a good example to children but more of a cautionary tale. We were much worse with bayonets and sabers than we were with guns. By worse I mean careless. We would get bayonets (the 1910 Springfield makes and excellent make believe Roman sword for a little kid) and sabers and play various games such as gladiator, crusader, and of course cowboy and Indians. Someone looked at the Civil War saber I have from that time and said how much use it had! Yeah, but not in the Civil War but through generations of kids playing with it. Paint a cross on a trash can lid and beat the hell out of each other! I did hurt myself with that damn saber. Cut the hell out of my thumb putting it back in the scabbard and had to make up a story how the incident happened.

            Knives and such are dangerous! But of course boys will be boys. There is no changing that. Did you know that even in unhunted deer populations there are more does than bucks even though they are born at approximately a 50/50 ratio? Yeah, because the males are more reckless and get killed. Well there are other reasons too having to do with cougars but that is a large one.

            It all makes me wonder how I survived childhood! I would bet most of the males here have similar stories of recklessness.

    • That would be a reasonable point if the stats were there to back it up, but, speaking generally, criminals, crazies, and kids don’t have easy access to our firearms. How much criminal violence occurs with guns that are taken from their owners without permission (I’m guessing a teeny amount) – AND of those criminals how many could not have obtained a gun by some other means (I’m guessing a teenier amount)?

      So many of the statements made by the opposition are based on their fearful imagination.

      • We don’t have to think that far back to come up with an example of someone having too easy access to his mother’s guns and using them to kill 26 people. But you’re right that it’s probably a statistically insignificant number overall, and certainly some would find other means of obtaining a gun.

        And I agree with Brian; we don’t want the government mandating how we store our firearms (I was raised in Canada, I know all about that). But this is why, personally, I’d think Baum’s point would be embraced by gun owners. By encouraging our community to commit to safety and calling out people who act irresponsibly—Baum even refers to IGOTD in his book—we can do something that will “save just one life” without giving up our rights, and we can project an image of ourselves that isn’t the raving gun-nut archetype the antis have in mind.

        • Mike – If you have to KILL your mother to gain access to her guns, then the access is not “easy.” But I don’t want to quibble too much since we’re in broad agreement.

          Gun owners should be extremely conscientious about training themselves and training others – and introducing more people to the safe use of firearms. I object only to blaming gun owners for being part of the crime problem, which is what Baum is doing. He wants us to admit we’re part of the problem. It’s just not true.

          But again, we’re in broad agreement.

  3. Enjoyed this book a lot. The best gun book I’ve read in years. It helps that Baum can really write.

  4. I don’t think our ability to bash the guy for trying erodes the press he is getting. As I’m no fan of gun control or fancy double speak I can’t say I’m interested directly in his book. Pieces of it intrigue me much like adding mushrooms to a bad pizza. It won’t bring back something with no cheese, extra sauce and peanut butter but you can pick small bits that are remotely tasty.

  5. I’m actually listening to this book via, and enjoying it.

    Trying to enforce strict ideological purity among gun owners = gun ownership decreases in relevance.

    • Whit – I don’t see anyone trying to “enforce” any kind of thinking, and I’m not sure how any blog – or any group without governmental power – could “enforce” any kind of thinking. On the contrary, this blog is promoting the book, albeit with a critical eye. Even among the commenters, no one has said that the book shouldn’t be available or that it shouldn’t be read. Rather, the comments have been about the worth of the book’s arguments.

      Purity is for the NYT and the public schools and Hollywood all the other pro-government idiots who want to control the information we get. Those guys actually don’t even discuss most of the opposing views except occasionally and only to heap contempt upon them.

    • I agree it should get more coverage, but a treaty cannot override the Constitution. That’s implicit in the Supremacy Clause, not to mention implicit in the very existence of the Constitution itself. Otherwise, the president could enter into a treaty that, with 51 approving votes in the Senate, abolish the Constitution entirely.

      This is not to say the Left won’t still try to do exactly that. They’ve tried every other way to do it with regard to particular clauses (and often succeeded).

    • In part because there isn’t sufficient Senate support to ratify the treaty, which is required for it to go into effect.

      • Thanks for the great responses Brian and MothaLova. Forgive me but I am not familiar with the way things work with our government and the UN. Based on what the media has to say one would think this certainly can over ride our constitution. Also, the senate would have to vote on this just like any other legislation? I always thought it was something POTUS strictly handles. Thanks again, this is exactly the type of information I was looking for.

        • Yes – look at Article II of the Constitution on treaty-making. A treaty requires the “Advice and Consent of the Senate.”

          But I agree with you that we do need to fight the battle to keep the gungrabbers from TRYING to use the treaty power to override our rights. They will keep trying for our guns any way they can get them, just as they’re trying to force all the environmental nonsense on us through treaties.

    • ….this is a good example of why the Washington Times is not to be considered a reliable news source.

      • +1. Believe it or not, the government typically does follow the rule of law as outlined in the Constitution.

        This seems like a Treaty of Versailles situation. The Senate has indicated it would oppose the treaty in the past, and I’d be very surprised if it didn’t continue to do so in the future.

  6. To respond to MikeM: Any effort to police ourselves as far as who we sell to puts us in the position of a Goalie. When a shot goes in, thats when you are noticed. An extreme amount of effort on law abiders part can be blown to bits when a criminal who doesn’t give a merde will dump a gun at the right price to the wrong person. How many transactions have we turned down when it didn’t “seem” right. Adam Lansa kills his mother, steals the guns, and the reaction and call to action by gun grabbers are as if one of us did something wrong and now our “priviledges” will be revoked because of our irresponsibility. He and we are all part of the gun culture in the eyes of the priviledge givers. That is their trick, include the likes of Adam Lanza in with us and let the condemnation begin.

    • You’re totally right about one bad apple spoiling the bunch. But I still think that if, as a community, we make a concerted effort to encourage people to store their guns safely, then we can “make a difference”. It probably wouldn’t be measurable, but it doesn’t infringe on our rights and it gives us leverage against the antis who lump us all in with the lone nut job.

  7. I read the WSJ article and I find nothing Baum said in that article objectionable. He just believes that gun owners should store their guns properly and report it when they are stolen. He’s hardly a wide eyed gun grabbing hippie. If, you have children of any age it is incredibly irresponsible of you not to keep your guns locked up, especially if you have teenagers. I don’t care how well adjusted you think your kid is it just takes a breakup, a failed exam or any seemingly minor setback for them to consider suicide. Suicides are 60% of gun deaths. If, you can afford $500 for a glock you can afford $500 for a good safe.

    • If one’s kids are so unbalanced that they might shoot someone or themselves because they had a bad break-up or a bad test or “any seemingly minor setback,” then one’s guns should be locked up.

      But if one’s kids are of more or less average ability and decency, they can be trusted to use firearms – with proper, regular training – at a fairly young age.

      Not being willing to train our kids and entrust them with serious obligations is part of the problem today. Kids aren’t asked to do much of anything; they’re not asked to be much more than babies. It’s no good for them or us. They’re much happier when learning to do handle more and more “adult” responsibilities.

      • You’ve clearly not been around teenagers much or read any human development literature. They are reckless and impulsive by nature. Proper training prevents accidents, but would do nothing to prevent suicides. Suicides are the leading cause of death amongst non-black teenagers and generally the first indicator that they are suicidal is a suicide attempt.

        I take my kids to the range all the time, but as a public health professional and having extensively read the literature on suicide I keep all my guns locked up.

        • Get a grip. I don’t know anything about kids? I haven’t trained my own, and I haven’t observed other kids who were trained? Now perhaps you haven’t trained your kids, or you got a couple bad ones, or you teach in those sanitoriums they call the public schools. Don’t tell the rest of us how to take care of our own children just because you don’t know how to take care of yours.

          You think we need people like you to protect us all from ourselves. You’re the problem, Petey.

        • MothaLova:

          Consider, if you will, that your kids are not everyone’s kids. Your experiences are not universal, or perhaps even common.

          I too have taught my children about proper behavior near and around guns.

          What I have not been able to do is inculcate those values *among their friends.*

          Even the best-parented kids sometimes do ignorant, dangerous, or evil things. To paraphrase the line from
          “Cool Hand Luke,” there are some people you just can’t reach.

      • As someone who had a single six strapped to my hip when deer hunting with my father at about the same time I was playing tee ball, amen.

        For me, with responsibility came power, not the other way around. If I demonstrated the safe handling procedures taught to me by my father and showed that I understood the truly great responsibility that comes with firearms ownership, then I could be trusted with a cylinder full of .22 shorts. I instantly felt like I was on the fast track to manhood and that I was being groomed to become man of the house someday. I wanted to stack firewood, I wanted to work in the yard and I wanted to fix things because that’s what a man would do. And I felt like I was an essential part of my family–I wasn’t just another mouth to feed, I helped keep the ship running (in my eyes, at least).

        Kids need responsibilities in order to develop into functional, independent adults. As I had shown that I was responsible with firearms and never made the mistake of treating them like toys I was blessed enough to be trusted with the keys to a new car as I progressed through my teenage years. Sure I was “reckless” and wanted to burn a little rubber–what teenage boy doesn’t like the sound of a V8 revving?–but I also knew my ass was grass and I would never see a pair of car keys again if I was ever pulled over for doing anything stupid.

        So yeah, I’d say I made it through my teenage years all right, and yes I knew damn well where the keys to the gun safe were. If I was becoming the next man of the house I needed to be able to defend it if needed. Besides, I had too much respect and appreciation for all my parents had done for me to ever do anything stupid whether it came to firearms, driving, or my grades in school.

        I’m sick of people trying to take away boyhood in America and all that comes with it. Instead of treating teenagers like a bunch of emo wrist cutters, how about we raise them to be men instead?

    • Here’s what I find objectionable — there are “gun guys” and there are guys who own guns. I don’t know any “gun guys” who don’t keep their guns safe, and I don’t think you do either. I’m an instructor and teach safe storage. The NRA screams safe storage. Unfortunately, the NRA has only 5 million members, while all other gun owners number more than ten times that.

      Gun owners who haven’t gotten the message aren’t “gun guys,” at least, not yet. And to blame them for the ills of the world without blaming the criminals who steal their guns is sophistry.

      • This is a very good point, Ralph. You hit the nail on the head, again.

        Its easy to generalize, and get it wrong, and to personalize it (“bitter-clingers”) especially if you are coming at things from the secular, well-meaning but ultimately contemptuous top-down “we-know-whats-best-for-you” thought process thats sadly unconsciously common to academia/governmental/collectivist/communitarian elitist thinking.

        In fact, I think even Dan is trying to make that point, to his fellow travelers in the readership in this last sentence in his recent article in the Atlantic-

        “If you watch the reaction to the book when it comes out, you will see that. I’m no less a Democrat than I was, but I am more attuned to the gun guy complaint — “I am over-managed and I am under-respected as a citizen and a human being.” I think the right has a point there. We need to stop fearing capable, empowered, independent-thinking individuals. “

  8. Pete S, perhaps your kids are reckless and impulsive but don’t lump my four responsible and well adjusted kids in with yours. You say you are a “healthcare professional.” I guess you figure your piece of paper gives you the final say in what works for others or makes your “opinion” on parenting more valid than the next persons? In fact your comments are a part of the problem with society today. We have come to the point where far too many think that some so called “professional” is the only one capable of having a functional and valid opinion.

    I have discovered over the years that when someone has to throw out something like that it immediately tells me to be very wary of that individual’s advice, especially when applied on such a subjective topic like this one. Rather than convince us all of the soundness of your advice through logic and reason you resort to “trust me, I’m a professional” implying that your piece of paper makes it so. I’m sorry but that doesn’t hold water.

    My parents are both in psychiatry (psychiatrist and psychiatric nurse) and to be honest with you, what I have seen of the industry over the past three decades has caused me to discount psychiatry and those types of “healthcare professionals” advice. When I compare friends and family I have observed over the years that have followed traditional American values, raised their children in a loving and responsible household and instilled a functioning moral compass to those who have raised their kids according to the “healthcare professionals” advice…well there really isn’t any comparison. Those who followed “Doctor Phil the healthcare professional” have kids who are reckless and impulsive and those who have followed the traditional American approach have the types of kids that you could confidently leave guns around.

    Nice try though.

  9. “But my fellow gun guys have plenty to answer for, too.”
    Dan- You are not one of my gun guys and I don’t have anything to answer for, from any one, least of of all to you. What arrogance.

  10. I grew up in a house where guns were “just out.” Everybody I knew did. Of course, everyone I grew up with were raised to know how to handle guns and didn’t feel the need to lock them away in a safe to keep them from
    shooting someone. Babys were watched after, everyone else, from toddlers to old men, knew not to touch a trigger unless you wanted the gun to go off. Of course, this was a different time, in the 50’s, when children were taught responsibility and actually minded their elders. God! the men in this country have turned into such neurotic babies.

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