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Earlier today, I blogged Dan Baum’s upcoming article for Harper’s Magazine: Happiness is a Worn Gun: My Concealed Weapon and Me. I asked the PR flack for an interview with the author. What we got was a comment from an irate gun-toting scribe. And a reply from a TTAG reader. Of which I’ll share with you. First up, Mr. Baum:

Just what is the “obvious conflict of interest between his liberal upbringing and the consequences of his acceptance of gun ownership”? What exactly is the conflict between a belief in collective over individual action that is in “conflict” with either an enthusiasm for guns and the desire to defend oneself from criminals? And why on earth is it in the interests of the gun-enthusiastic community to drive away anyone who doesn’t sign on to the whole small-government/low-taxes/loose-regulation ideology?

Now TTAG commentator rhill’s response:

Mr. Dan Baum, I think I can provide you some partial answers to the questions you asked in the post above.

I am a licensed concealed carry instructor as well as a college instructor in an academic field typically dominated by political liberals.

1) Part of the “conflict of interest” in the first two questions can be found in your own words. Once you begin carrying a gun to defend yourself (and I am very glad you have chosen to do so) then you are engaging in individualistic behavior and self-reliant thinking and action. You are no longer relying totally upon the “approved governmental authorities” to protect and defend your life. One of the characteristics of modern American liberals is that they typically prefer governmental answers to problems over individual answers to problems. They prefer public solutions to private solutions.

You simply cannot get any more private and individual in your actions and decisions than choosing to carry your own gun to protect yourself. And by taking such an intensely private and individualistic action, you are doing things that run very much counter to large swaths of modern American liberal ideology, thought, and legislation.

2) As a new convert to providing for your own self-defense, you are not familiar with the very long history of animosity and outright hate that modern American liberals have had for American gun owners, and that can be seen by merely looking at anti-gun legislation and laws for the last several decades.

For example, you cite the ban on military-style “assault weapons” as a piece of anti-gun legislation to which gun owners really took exception . ( By the way, “assault weapon” is a term created by Josh Sugarman–another anti-gun liberal–specifically for the purpose of confusing non-gun owners into thinking that semi-auto rifles were actually machine guns and should be banned. And Josh says that in his own words, too. Here’s a link, look under “quotes.” ).

The so-called “assault weapons” ban of 1994 was enacted by legislators who all bought into the big-government/high-taxes/tight regulation ideology. You can’t have any more tight regulation than a ban, you know.

The two biggest proponents of this ridiculous, draconian, ban were then-President Bill Clinton and his VP Al Gore, both “centrist” Democrats from southern states.

In 1994, Gore provided the tie-breaking vote in the Senate for the so-called “assault weapons” ban, and made quite the production of walking down to the Senate chambers to cast the tie-breaking vote, and Clinton made quite the production in signing it. Clinton made all sorts of disparaging remarks in public about the “NRA bubbas” who were against the bill’s passage.

Neither Gore nore Clinton, while in Arkansas and Tennessee, had shown any anti-gun tendencies at all….ever.

But once they reached the nation stage, they enacted the most draconian, awful, hideously anti-gun law perpetrated in the US in decades.

Clinton and Gore proved that when it comes to wanting to ban guns, there are no Democrats on the national level who can be trusted to be reliably pro-gun.

The simple, undeniable historical fact is this, Mr. Baum.

For the last 50 years, all of the most restrictive, onerous gun control policies, legislation, laws, codes, and practices have all been passed, signed, enacted and supported by people who strongly buy into the big-government/high taxes/tight regulations ideology.

It is the “blue states” and “blue cities” that have the most anti-gun laws and regulations (Vermont being the lone exception). It was Washington D.C. and Chicago that both lost gun-ban cases in the US Supreme Court recently, not Atlanta and Oklahoma City.

Look at New York City’s Sullivan Law. Look at California’s state gun laws. Now compare them to any so-called “red state” or “red city” of your choosing.

Check out Chuck Schumer’s record, and public statements about gun ownership. Go read about Ted Kennedy’s efforts to ban .30-30 ammuntion because it was “armor piercing.” Be sure to read about when the .30-30 caliber was developed, too.

We gun owners have been burned in the past, many times over, by liberals.

We have been burned by liberals who never once showed any anti-gun tendencies until they got to the national political stage, where they then stabbed us in the back, and then lambasted us for not enjoying the process of being stabbed.

And we have good memories.

So don’t be surprised at all when we come off as rather skeptical of pro-gun liberals.

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  1. Ah, and so it comes to this:

    "One of the characteristics of modern American liberals is that they typically prefer governmental answers to problems over individual answers to problems. They prefer public solutions to private solutions."

    You see, you have no understanding of what it means to be a liberal. Liberals HATE government. We just hate a different part of it than you. We hate it when it intrudes in our bedroom, or attempts to require us to bow to a religion, or gives huge tax breaks to oil companies and the rich, while taxing the middle class to pay for a war in Iraq we didn't believe we needed to start (but are comitted to now, we do believe you have to finish what you started). We are also perplexed at a government that would spend billions to incarcerate the poor, rather than millions to educate them and give them a hand up.

    And, liberals don't hate gun-owners. They FEAR them. They fear them because of crazy rants like this that show just how divided our country has become, and how little the right understands the left. The far right has been demonizing "Liberals" for a decade now so that they could win elections to fatten the pocket books of their corporate sponsors. In doing so, they have created a fictional character – the 'Liberal' that wants to come and steal your gun, your money, your God, and kill your baby while he's there.

    It's bullshit. I've never met him or her and I know alot of them. Not one of them wants to take away your guns, FYI. They just want to take away the guns from the crazy scary guys that rants about how "Liberals" hate them and are out to get them. You see, they think they might go postal on them… oh, wait….

    My point being, if you don't scare the liberals, they will chill out on guns. But the "Tea Party" and the NRA use crazy hateful rhetoric to stir up their base for the elections. That rhetoric gets reported, and the liberals think "these people are scary and nuts" and the HANDFUL of truly anti-gun people within the Democratic party point to it and get a louder voice. I presume that every Republican isn't some Evangelical nut case that wants me imprisoned if I am not in church on Sunday. True? Then why can't you imagine that every Democrat isn't out to go all China on civilian gun ownership?

    I am a liberal and I happen to like to shoot. I like guns. I love FREEDOM. I like freedom from someone else's God, I like freedom from Patriot Act style police-state restrictions, and I also like the freedom to buy some damn ammunition without being strip searched.

    I happen to believe that government spending is at the base of a successful US economy for the past 50 years. I understand that I need to pay my taxes to fund the military (yes, THANK YOU ALL for keeping me free), the schools, the prisons, the roads, etc. I understand that doing those things well costs alot, and so I can either have a crappy Government or I can pay more taxes. I choose to pay more taxes. And, as someone who is relatively well off, I think it is fair that I pay nearly 50% of my income in taxes, while those who are not so well off pay less.

    I can believe all of these things at the same time, without any inherent contradiction. So, yeah, I am a liberal and I am a shooter. The two are not in conflict at all. I am not some caricature that has to take away your Guns because I happen to believe a little compassion never hurt anyone. I am just another free American, like you.

    • David:

      Your discourse reminds me of a favorite line from a favorite movie of mine. In Eating Raoul, when asked about her sexual preferences, Edie McClurg's character says, "We're into B&D but not S&M. We met at the A&P. But we hate labels."

      I hat labels, too. If we've got to resort to them, though, I suppose I'm what you'd call a "Conservative." If you actually talked to me for a bit, you might discover I'm a liberal of sorts – a "classical liberal," someone who believes in a government that governs best that governs least, promoting freedoms like free speech, religion, press, assembly, and free markets. You might call me a "Constitutionalist," because I believe we'd all be better off if we returned to following the U.S. Constitution as the law of the land, and stopped trying to reinterpret it for the momentary convenience of whoever's in charge. But don't call me a "Republican." The term is meaningless, because there's no appreciable difference between most of the GOP and the Democrats – both parties are ruled by Progressives – as two sides of the same coin. The Democrats favor Big Government, Big Unions, and Big Solutions paid for by tax dollars. Recent incarnations of Republicans favor Big Government, Big Business, and Big Grants paid to corporations from tax dollars. If you look at the track records of Obama and McCain, there wasn't a dime's worth of difference between them, other than how fast they wanted to get where they planned to take us.

      So do labels really do us any good? Not as far as I can see. But if we can get past the labels, I think we'd see that those on both sides have a lot in common. Unfortunately, we'd also see that labels serve to obfuscate, confuse, and overly-simplify.

      There are a lot of us "conservatives" out there that, like you, want the government out of our bedrooms. Unlike you, we also want the government out of our wallets, our boardrooms, and our sick rooms. That's where we fundamentally disagree. You see, you've bought into the idea that we can have a government that allows personal freedoms (like owning a gun) while at the same time controlling our lives (taking over the banking, health care, and automotive industries). Freedom and control go together like oil and water. You may think that the liberals in Congress think like you do, that they'd buy off on an armed citizenry, while simultaneously backing Big Government. And you'd be wrong.

      The same government that wants to levy confiscatory taxes to provide for government programs that fall light years outside of what they are authorized to do by our Constitution is not one that can allow Americans to own guns. Why? Because those in the ruling class realize that a society that has a right to arm itself, ultimately need not fear the government, while a disarmed society is essentially subject to the whims of the government.

      I'm thrilled that you've decided to arm yourself. I'll make you a bet, though. Talk to me in a year. Seriously. Come back here and write again about how you feel about your politics. I'm betting you will experience a decided shift to the right between now and then. You won't become a "conservative" so much as go from "liberal" to "libertarian." Ask John Stossel. He began his career as a liberal. Today, his politics are decidedly NOT Progressive (or liberal). I've seen kind of political evolution happen more than once. And I promise – when you come back a year from now and report that you are much less enamored of Liberalism and moving decidedly to the right politically – I won't say "I told you so."

  2. > They just want to take away the guns from the crazy scary guys that rants about how “Liberals” hate them and are out to get them.

    Yet, they never manage to restrict their controls to such people. In fact, they don't even try.

    And, they lie about the laws that they advocate. They say "you need a driver's license for cars", but let's look at how driver's licenses actually work. You only need a license if you're driving on public roads. There's no restriction on vehicles that aren't used on public roads. No one tries to restrict the issuance of driver's license "to get cars off the road". In fact, they pass out driver's licenses like chicklets. Does any of that sound like the various forms of gun licensing that they push? Instead, they vehemently oppose "shall issue", which pretty much mirrors how we handle driver's licenses.

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