In my ‘tribe’ post about guns yesterday I reprinted an email exchange with TPM Reader AA. He’s now responded to the post. So I’m giving him the floor …
I had a reply written up, decided not to send it because it sounded too circular and admittedly didn’t progress the discussion. I do believe our exchange was productive and I value learning other perspectives. I read your Speaking for My Tribe post and thought you did a good job. We are products of our experience and surroundings.
For what it’s worth I only lean red on this subject and it’s a pretty dim red. Frankly it’s weird being on the opposite side of a subject than you. I was not raised with guns either. My father was a hippie, full fledged flower power he would say. Spent most of my college years railing against G.W., attending anti-war rallies and reading Howard Zinn. I never had a desire to hunt, still don’t, and never really understood what appeared to me as an obsession with firearms. I had an image of gun owners: always hunters, always Republican and always listened to country music; all of which I had zero interest in.
It actually wasn’t until last year when co-workers invited me up north for a weekend cabin trip, fishing, drinking and bonfires. Little did I know that these very well educated, public radio listening, Obama supporting, kind-of nerdy engineers had several guns as well as their carry licenses. They were very responsible, knowledgeable, prepared and were nothing like the image I had created. Now I’ve shot a couple times before. When I was little I went trap shooting once and a few years back I went to the range with some friends. But I was uncomfortable at first; not because they had guns but because of my inept ability, I was clueless on how to even handle one of these things. That scared me more than anything. It was a terrible feeling. I assumed that I feared what I didn’t understand, so they taught me and my fear started to go away, not completely of course. I imagine that most gun owners would say you should always retain some fear.
After that weekend I started thinking maybe I wanted one just to use as a range gun. Something else to do during the cold winter months, I hate the cold. It was a new skill for me to learn. I was on the fence for a while but ultimately bought one. It was weird. I had to think through how to be a gun owner, how to secure, how to be responsible. I didn’t even buy any ammunition for a while to make sure I was fully confident at each step. This was and still is all new to me. My opinions are evolving as I learn more. Having been gun-apathetic most of my life perhaps it has not completely sunk in.
I guess if I were going to try and make a point from all this it would be that there probably isn’t such a strict divide between all people being pro-gun or anti-gun. There is likely a very large grey area where most reside, with different viewpoints, different experiences related to each nuance of gun ownership. Ask me two years ago if I thought I’d own a gun now? Probably not I’d say. Ask six years ago? Now way! Why would I! There is no switch that you can flip to turn you into a gun person. We are products of our experience and surroundings.
I am not a member of TPM Prime so I don’t know how everyone is responding to my posts, I imagine it’s not good. I just don’t want to be cast as a closet Republican because I have a different viewpoint on 1% of the progressive platform. Would a hard core conservative be wearing a Wellstone shirt right now? I suppose you can’t make everyone happy.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.