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By Kirk Butts

Guns have been a part of my life since I could realize that I was, in fact, alive. From an early age I was taught by my father about firearms; how to handle them, how to shoot them, how to clean them and most importantly, how to respect them. We lived in the Indiana suburbs and never had the luxury of going shooting whenever we wished, but that love for guns stayed with me during those long gaps between the range. It grew throughout my childhood and into manhood. Squirt guns became cap guns. My ancient (and broken) Daisy BB gun gave way to a Crossman air rifle. In college, I purchased my first “real” firearm: a 1966 Yugoslavian M59/66A1 SKS. I am a proud conservative gun owner who comes from a family of proud conservative gun owners . . .

My girlfriend’s story doesn’t quite mirror mine. If she played baseball, her position would be so far out in left field that she’d be on the other side of the foul line. She grew up in New Hampshire where shooting guns wasn’t even a consideration, let alone a hobby. After graduating college, she traveled to China and taught science there for a year. Even today, she speaks about that country’s version of communism with esteem. When we started dating in our mid-20s, she had never fired a gun. She had never even held one in her hands. So imagine my surprise when one day, she told me she wanted to go shooting.

Obviously, my response was that of absolute glee. In our four years of relationship, we have enjoyed countless discussions about politics, healthcare, abortion, capital punishment and the economy. We come to near-universal disagreement on just about every topic. But as a liberal dating a conservative gun owner, she never objected to my constitutional rights and event went as far as supporting them. So when the time came to take her shooting, my excitement could hardly be contained.

After a few lessons at home about procedure and safety – covering everything from eyeglasses and ear protection to which direction to aim the guns – we were off to the range. We spent two hours shooting two rifles: the aforementioned SKS and a ratty old WWII-era Mosin. After a few magazines of 7.62×39, she wanted to step up to the 54R. We worked the stock firmly into her shoulder to prepare for the extra recoil. She chambered a round, lined up the sights with her target and pulled the trigger. After a cacophonous “BOOM!” she laid the rifle down on the table and turned around to look at me. Her open mouth slowly transformed into a satisfied smile, and she said simply, “I like this one better.”

That was three years ago. In those past three years, my gun collection has grown a little more with the addition of another rifle and two shotguns. Earlier this month, we added our very first handgun to the mix: a 9mm I gave to her for her birthday. It is anodized in her favorite color, pink (go figure, the commie). After shooting it, the second thing she wants to do? Enroll us in a concealed carry course. Enter more glee.

We may not agree on many topics of importance, but we do share two things that are essential to a happy relationship: we love each other, and we love to shoot.

Indeed, opposites attract.

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  1. I hate to throw a wrench in the works of this matrimonial love story, but ……..which way does your girlfriend VOTE?

    I don’t care how many anodized 9mms your lady owns, and neither does anyone in DC.Votes talk, and BS walks.If she owns 100 guns, its for naught if she decides for civil disarmament at the ballot box.

    We need to move past how many guns people own.The question we need to ask is will someone VOTE for the 2nd Amendment. For an example of a state populated by millions of gun owners , I give you California.Plenty of guns are bought and legally sold there.Yet look at their laws.

    • Only around 20 percent of Californians own guns, so even though the numbers may be high, keep in mind that the total population of California is also high. So in actuality, the vast majority of voters there do not own guns and vote that way, thus outnumbering those that do.

      • Not how it works. Most elections are typically decided by a fairly small margin. If 20% of all Californians voted for pro RKBA candidates they would be an unstoppable political force. Its this mentality of voting with a party or “I have mine but you shouldn’t” that has killed RKBA in Cali.

    • You should learn to shut up when the situation warrants. He’s TAUGHT A COMMIE TO SHOOT!

      That’s enough; quit being a FLAME DELETED.

    • Gun owners tend to vote pro-gun, despite any other political slant they might hold. Don’t forget, our hippie-liberal governor, Jerry Brown [when he was AG] was responsible for the pro-2A brief from California in the Heller case.

      Further, even though he kowtowed to Sacramento on some of the recent gun restrictions passed by our crazy legislature, he vetoed a full half of the anti-gun bills, including the worst ones. A non-gun owning liberal like Phil Angelides or crazy LA mayor Villarigosa would have rubber-stamped every one.

      Not to say that Jerry Brown is some kind of 2A hero, but being a gun owner certainly leaned him more in our direction than otherwise, despite his other politics.

      • I disagree with Brown plenty, but I admire the guy. It can’t be any fun being an honest politician in a state brimming with flat out criminals like Feinstein getting rich from influence peddling and general chicanery.

        • Brown? Honest? While he’s slightly less dishonest about guns, his track record on, for instance, high speed rail is just as pandering and reality-challenged as any other politician. Better than Willy Brown or Gavin Newsome, but that’s like saying baby poop smells better than diarrhea.

      • Jerry Brown [when he was AG] was responsible for the pro-2A brief from California in the Heller case.

        I have copies of every brief in the Heller case and I can’t find the one you referenced. Do you have a cite?

    • ST – This is the danger of having the RBKA associated primarily with one political party. If it were loved and respected by large numbers across the whole political spectrum, no candidate would dare touch it.

      So I submit to you that gun-loving liberals may be some of the best friends the RKBA could have. Because as conservatives, you’re going to lose some elections (such as the last two presidential elections) and when you do, don’t you want some people on the other side who still cherish and defend that right?

      IMO, one of our biggest failures has been being too stuck on only one political party (and truth be told, that party ain’t exactly a beacon of hope to begin with). We’ve got to expand, or we’re going to get beaten and eventually lose.

      • I agree.We need to expand our reach as a community, or well sink into irrelevancy .

        That being said, shoving guns into people’s hands won’t do it.

        I used to be among the unwashed Liberal masses.So I know of what I speak when I say that just because someone enjoys a trip to the range doesn’t make them ready to change their entire political outlook.They’ll just be gun owning leftists voting against their own interests.

        Changing a person’s political outlook ,inevitably, takes time.We cannot assume getting guns in everyone’s hands will be enough, any more then assuming a pregnant woman is automatically pro-life after conceiving.We need to alter the very cultural mores of this country-and that’s not done at the cash register or range counter.

  2. I wish you all the best, Kirk. While opposites sometimes attract, in the end attraction will be maintained only by shared values (even if the other stuff too delicate to mention is off the charts). Having a leftist GF may contribute to the excitement now, but we’ll see what changes occur after more time has elapsed.

    In the meantime, have fun.

  3. I agree with ST. If she votes liberal, she’s voting for disarmament. Name a liberal candidate is isn’t for gun control. That’s a challenge. The two are linked and unfortunately there may be liberal shooters out there, but their good intentions, rooted in communist doctrine eventually call for civilian disarmament. Ask the girlfriend how gun ownership works in China, or Vietnam, or Cuba, or Venezuela. Now ask her how great the human rights record is in those countries. Ask her how equal rights for women works in those workers’ paradises.

    I am glad she enjoys shooting but if she doesn’t understand the basic flaws in communism and liberalism, she is working for your, and our eventual disarmament. It is my greatest hope that shooting will open new doors for her, new points of view and allow her to see the danger inherent in communism and liberalism.

    • Lefty doesn’t always equal gun grabber, and communism and liberalism are not the same thing. See e.g., Don Kates and the vast majority of rural democrats in the Midwest. Also consider a lot of union members’ reactions to the gun control push this year. What it comes down to is this:

      “Political tags — such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth — are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. “

  4. This is an interesting post.

    My wife’s cousin is a pretty hardcore modern granola Subaru hippie in her early 30s. When she visited us once about 7 years ago, she saw an SKS in our closet when my wife was showing her some clothes. She immediately ran out of the room and refused to be in that area of the house until I came home and locked it away. I even talked to my wife on the phone and assured her that it wasn’t loaded, didn’t matter. She was convinced it could “go off.”

    A pretty stark change occured when she decided to move up to Alaska and spent several years there. By the time she moved back down, she said she had started carrying a .38 revolver during her hikes. Being around big animals, lots of questionable people, and a culture where pretty much everyone owned guns, completely changed her. Sort of like being thrown into a place where everyone else speaks a different language, she was forced to adjust herself to her surroundings, and ultimately embraced them.

    We could never really figure out how she got so scared of guns, since her dad was an AF vet and her brother a retired Marine who went on to be a patrol cop and SWAT member. So it’s not like she grew up in a home where everyone was against guns.

    And my dad was about as hippie as they came, being in college in the late 60s to get out of going to Vietnam. Yet he still came from a family of hunters and gun owners, and some of his hippie friends even tried out hunting with him in college. It’s pretty funny ooking at some of my dad’s early hunting photos with a huge beard, long hair, aviator glasses, flannel & jeans and a rifle.

  5. “She grew up in New Hampshire where shooting guns wasn’t even a consideration, let alone a hobby.” Maybe in her house.

    • I resent that crack at New Hampshire, I just applied to the Sig factory 25 minutes ago. We love our guns here.

  6. The original Hippies were not liberals, they were sort of goofy, pragmatic, libertarians. “Do your own thing, man”.
    I was in the Haight-Ashbury for ’66 and ’67 (the “summer of love”), and at the Monterey Pop Festival (not Woodstock, though – the real thing was over by then), took a couple of guitar lessons from Jerry Garcia, and once rode a Ferris Wheel with Janis Joplin (she barfed in my lap). When I talk about Hippies, I know whereof I speak. A lot of the “back to nature” communards were happy to talk about their rifles and shotguns – live off the land, don’cha know. The biker contingent favored 1911s. A lot of the young folks were out there because they couldn’t find a place in the modern world, and many were remarkably self sufficient – grow your own!

    The look and the name were co-opted by a lot of unrelated groups, as time went by. There were the long-haired redneck dope smokers, the political radicals (these were the ones who aged into liberals), the rockers who adopted the look because that was what was selling, and I could go on and on. The real Hippies were not interested in telling other people how to live – they just wanted to be free to follow their own star. For some, it led through drugs to perdition, but a lot of the friends I made in those days are still live-and-let-live folks, and a lot are shooters.

    The word “Hippie” may not be the most misused word in the world, but it’s right up there.

    • many were remarkably self sufficient – grow your own

      Yup, a lot of “hippies” grew their own — and it wasn’t potatoes and corn they were growing.

    • Leadbelly – Thank you for the insight. I’m way younger than that generation and your point of view is better education than any history book.

        • The sixties were an adventure. The definition of “adventure” is something that’s fun to remember and tell stories about, but not that great while it’s happening.

          Those of us who went looking for something authentic and meaningful in life fifty years ago found a lot of fun – at times – but also encountered danger and heartbreak in proportion. Anyone who didn’t grow up in the tedious, lockstep world of the fifties can’t appreciate the risks some of us were willing to take, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, to break out. It wasn’t all sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll. It included sleeping rough behind burned-out gas stations when the hitch hiking wasn’t good, BAD drugs, dangerous people(remember Charley Manson? I never met him, but learned later that he lived right down the block for a while), predators of all stripes, and, in my experience, an over abundance of confusing experiences. Try to imagine the Summer of Love and the Sexual Freedom League from the perspective of a sheltered Catholic school boy.

          No, it wasn’t all fun. Some was absolutely glorious, some was terrifying, but a lot of us DO remember – all of it.

          As Hagar the Horrible once said “ignorance is the mother of adventure”.

  7. Good story! And I wouldn’t worry about the politics either. I know plenty of hard core libs (abortion, socialism, gay marriage, etc) who have not voted Democrat in decades due to their position on guns. One old Jewish lady I know voted McCain/Palin, despite hating everything they stood for, simply on the basis of Obama wanting to reinstate old failed gun control policies.

  8. Not sure how she could have missed NH being a gun friendly state. Being from NH and having traveled throughout China, I can say the motto “Live free or die” has particular significance. Ask your girlfriend how wonderful it was for the glorious communist party to roll tanks over students in Tianemen Square? Same douche bags, only now they want it all. Maybe your girlfriend should go “volunteer” at one of their concentration camps… Reeducation camps, per their terminology.

  9. Great story! I enjoyed it. It’s always refreshing, introducing someone new to guns, and they turn out loving them. Good job.

  10. Many women are attracted to the strongest most powerful men; it’s a genetic thing where as a pregnant female, she would want to be protected when she was so vulnerable.

    This translates to single women and big government, this is why so many single women vote for Big Brother/Nanny state; it’s also why so many women vote conservative after getting married; they don’t need government to protect them anymore.

    Broad generalizations, but overall I believe to be true.

  11. Ah, gotta wonder about that NH comment…

    NH has some of the most liberal gun laws in the country – and by that I mean that I can buy anything that’s federally legal without a license ar any more hassle than what the federal government imposes. Municipalities are prohibited from enacting any gun related statutes.

  12. Nobody should have to buy the whole package. Right now I’m working with an aspiring ar15 builder from California. He keeps asking me, “Am I gonna get crap from other gun people?” And my answer is “yes but it doesn’t matter.” The growth of gun owners numbers can only be helped if more anti- disarmament left leaners come into play. Flame on, but it makes people think in the voting booth.

    Agreeing to disagree without huge fallout is a sign of a mature relationship. And having a nuanced view on issues causes people to investigate candidates versus voting for the letter after their name though.

    The china thing and “esteem” I have to raise an eyebrow at though. The biggest protestors of how things are in China that I know are people I know who are Chinese. You’d have to be really intentionally blind to it to not see the ways things aren’t working over there.

    • Yes, but you’d have fewer problems opening a new business in China than you would have opening the same business in the US. American regulations are worse.

      And frankly, I’d rather deal with the Red Army than with the EPA.

      • Except it wouldn’t be your business. China has adopted the strange model of allowing what seems to be free enterprise as a way of encouraging the people to be ambitious enough to be productive but they will always step in and take possession of any reasonably successful venture.

  13. Well, of course Commies like guns, they’ll need them to kill off all the Capitalist pigs, and other political dissidents.

    And, don’t confuses hippies with Commies, they’re not the same thing. It’s like calling cars, trucks, simply because they both use gasoline and have four wheels.

    I know true, 60’s era hippies (dad’s friends) and modern day, socialist, wannabe hippies (GF’s friends), it’s apples and oranges.

  14. You’re a better man than I. I don’t think I could be with a hippie for more than and hour or so. Maybe 3 if she’s really hot.

    Keep at it and she might see the light on a lot of other things as well. Most gun guys lean right because to keep and bear arms is an exercise in personal liberty over state power. Once she gets a taste of this liberty she’ll like it. And eventually she may realize how many other personal liberties are subject to the whims of the state.

  15. I was also involved with a very liberal woman for awhile last year. She is an educated, well-read, intelligent person and though we disagreed on a lot of things, we’re still friends. She’d never shot a gun before she met me but thoroughly enjoyed it after I let her shoot my 10/22. She insisted on carrying it back from the range (I insisted on it being unloaded, but since we’d hiked to a “range in a rural area, I figured why the hell not…). I offered to let her keep it when I moved but she wasn’t quite comfortable with that – and I respected her choice.
    I don’t imagine that she’ll change how she votes immediately, but she is open-minded and may change how she thinks a little. She was very concerned with government corruption, abuse of power, and justice… and so are many of us. There is common ground to be found once you get past the labels we all put on each other.
    Truth be told, she challenged my thinking too… like why it was that we gun owners, who value liberty so much, were all so willing to write representatives and send money and raise general hell over proposed gun control, but we often don’t show up to support the rest of the Bill of Rights with anything more than a little whining among ourselves. Think about that – it’s kind of true.

    I don’t for one second regret the time I spent getting to know her.

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