For my money, the most edifying email we've gotten during the post-Newtown gun debate was the one from TPM Reader SS ('Tactical Reality') back in mid-December. TPM Reader MJ seems to have had a similar experience ...
I was struck by something in ZB's letter. I grew up in the Appalachian somewhat rural South (western North Carolina) and now live in suburban upstate New York. While I agree that there's a distinct rural/urban split in attitudes toward guns, it seems to me that there's been a big change in the rural attitudes over the last 30 years or so. The Bushmaster "man card" ads typify it for me.
Myself I've moved completely from one side of this discussion to the other in the past 10 years or so. I identified very much with the gun rights side of the argument and looked forward to the day when I could expand my collection of firearms. The sport shooting and home defense questions were strongest to me and I think I may at some point own a shotgun or two for those purposes.
Want to know the primary thing that has driven me away from gun advocacy? Gun advocates.
Here's the rest of the email from TPM Reader ZB ...
This is what an assassination looks like.
Only this time the gun -- put to the politician's head at basically point blank range -- misfired. And security (and seemingly a lot of adrenaline addled people) had a moment to wrestle him to the ground as the would-be assassin tried to reload or unjam the gun.
You have to see this video.
Gun Appreciation Day organizers decide to drop white supremacist group as one of the event's sponsors.
From TPM Reader LS ...
I know that you have probably far too many emails about guns and tribes to deal with. However, I feel compelled to provide some additional lines of support for your position:
I am a competent, mentally healthy individual who is very successful in my field. I am also a ditz with respect to anything that requires coordination. I am the kind of person who drives into a drive-in window and has to back-up cause I went too far. Over Christmas, the family was talking to my brother in law --a sheriff in rural Maine, a hunter, an NRA member --about the possibility of limiting guns, and the "defense argument" --that we all need guns to defend ourselves.
From TPM Reader HM ...
What if I belong to two "tribes"?
Back then I described a city youth with lots of rural experience through a Dad who enjoyed camping and also through the Boy Scouts of America (The Hitler Jugend).
I own (luckily) property and homes on the Upper Delaware River in NYS. I am an avid fly fisherman (as I mentioned) and a deer and bird hunter. I do not own a pistol although I could easily obtain a concealed carry permit (excluding the 5 counties of NYC). They are fun to shoot but I responsibly decline the responsibility.Carrying a loaded weapon is enormously taxing on your powers of self awareness for the safety of those around you. I also have never believed that citizens should be armed in tightly packed urban situations. I possess none in this jurisdiction.
Last week there was a big commotion about that NRA ad calling the President an 'elitist hypocrite' for sending his daughters to a school with armed guards while denying that same armed protection to kids around the country.
Most people focused on how disgusting it was to drag the President's daughters into a political attack on the president or how the president actually wasn't opposed to schools having armed guards and a bunch of other stuff. After all, the leadership of the NRA is one of the most rancid players in US politics. But it turns out the critics weren't aiming high enough with the critiques.
I'll be answering your questions in a Live Chat at TPMPrime at 4 PM eastern. Get your questions in now and join us at 4 PM.
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.
In case you missed it, Bill O'Reilly came gunning for us last night, going off on one of our reporters, Benjy Sarlin, for saying O'Reilly said something he said. Video after the jump.
O'Reilly also, bizarrely, accused us of 'stealing' the phrase Talking Points Memo from him. To this I would only say O'Reilly should be more careful about lying about us on TV. I've explained before where I got the phrase. So Bill, stop pretending you didn't say things you said and stop lying about us. Otherwise, great work.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) drops debt ceiling hostage demand two weeks after he went full-hostage taker in a Houston Chronicle op-ed. Why the change? "You sometimes try to inject a little doubt in your negotiating partner about where you're going to go," Cornyn told the paper.
I've gotten a lot of powerful responses to my post on the non-gun tribe -- many agreeing, others angry, empathetic, many with thoughtful critiques. They've run the gamut. There are many pieces I write not to convince or advocate but simply to capture as clearly as I can a certain perception or belief. They also help me learn more about the topic at hand and often more about myself. Much of what I wrote in this post was not to advocate or convince anyone but simply to capture an experience that seems too little unexpressed but is shared by many, many people.
I'm not going to characterize this or say anything about it. But I had to share it with you. From TPM Reader PH ...
I read about your scary childhood experience and I had to leave work due to the sick feeling in my gut. The sick feeling has been building, maybe since Sandy Hook, but your story forced to write about something I had never written about before.
I accidentally killed my best friend when I was 15. Shot my best friend of eight years a week before we started high school. I was sitting in his room holding his rifle across my legs as he talked about how he had looked it up in some collectors guide and it was worth more than when he got it (Christmas or birthday or something). All the sudden there was a gigantic explosion and the rifle flew off my legs and I looked over as my friend fell over holding his gut and the whole world was tinted a hazy red.
Louisiana Rep. John Fleming is the latest House Republican to call for providing President Obama short term debt limit increases -- if only so the GOP can keep hounding Democrats about government spending for the next two years. But as much as he'd like to extract a price from Obama, he subtly explained to reporters how Republicans might ultimately let their hostage go.
I've been thinking of writing some version of this post since the days immediately after the Newtown shootings. It overlaps with but is distinct from the division between people who are pro-gun or anti-gun or pro-gun control or anti-gun control. Before you even get to these political positions, you start with a more basic difference of identity and experience: gun people and non-gun people.
So let me introduce myself. I'm a non-gun person. And I think I'm speaking for a lot of people.