On Saturday night, The New Yorker Festival invited its speakers to the Old Town Bar (above). It was not a pleasant experience. At one point, New Yorker writer Ariel Levy asked me how many guns I owned. “About forty,” I replied. “So you’re preparing for the apocalypse,” she snarked. “I’m not preparing for it, but I’m ready if it happens,” I replied. I offered her my Texas Firearms Festival business card and invited her to next weekend’s event.
“That would be hell on earth for me,” she pronounced, her voice laden with disgust.
“You don’t know that,” I said. “That was a nasty, aggressive remark,” I added.
“America has too many guns,” she said, backpedaling slightly.
“That was nasty and aggressive,” I repeated.
“I was just being flip,” Ms. Levy said unapologetically.
“No you weren’t,” I insisted. “You were being nasty and aggressive.”
A crowd of her fellow intellectuals swept into the bar, ending our conversation — although the word “conversation” is a bit generous for what had just transpired. Or any of my other firearms-related interchanges in that alcohol-fueled Union Square enclave. One encounter ended with me being unceremoniously disinvited from a table of self-described lipstick lesbians.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The lesbian thing, I mean. The bum’s rush, though, was infuriating. The quorum of celebrants had asked me “what’s the truth about guns?” The alpha didn’t like my answer — they’re protected by the Second Amendment, they’re fun, and the firearms business is going great guns. And that was that.
The actual panel discussion — Armed Citizens: The Fight Over Guns In America — began with moderator and New Yorker scribe Evan Osnos asking the audience to raise their hands if they supported stricter gun control. A forest of hands confirmed that I wasn’t in Texas anymore. Later, I asked the audience to raise their hands if they had a carry or gun permit. One hand went up: fellow speaker Jonathan Mossberg’s wife.
I don’t remember much of the [unrecorded] “debate.” Suffice it to say, I deconstructed the same old gun control tropes: the militia clause obviates individual gun rights, nobody needs an AK-47, defensive gun uses are “as rare as Elvis sightings,” New York City is gun-free and safe, average folks are unqualified to carry, firearms should be regulated like cars, etc.
In the last case, the audience literally groaned when I informed a questioner that driving isn’t a constitutionally protected right. At which point Mr. Osnos remarked that I wasn’t going to win over the room with that remark. That elicited a round of smug, self-righteous laughter from the crowd. As is the way of New York intellectuals generally, and the souls gathered to have their civilian disarmament preconceptions validated, specifically.
My appearance on The New Yorker Festival panel was never destined to be a successful hearts and minds gun rights campaign. And it wasn’t. The audience’s hearts were closed — except to the pathos aimed at a bereaved panelist whose son was shot and killed by gang bangers. As for the audience’s beliefs, as they say, you can’t reason someone out of something they weren’t reasoned into.
I agreed to travel to NYC to defend gun rights for three reasons. First, it was a free trip to The Big Apple. Second, someone’s got to do it. Third, I wanted to journey into the heart of disarmament darkness. I’m always interested to see and hear those who would remove our natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms.
What I learned is this: gun rights remain the wedge issue between those who cherish and defend individual liberty and those who believe the government must protect its citizens from themselves.
There is little to nothing you can do once a statist has drunk deeply from the cup of tyranny. Save, perhaps, taking them to the gun range. Which is where I’m headed now, to reconnect with the tool that protects me from people like those who paid me to entertain them.