Confessions of a Liberal Gun Lover

Gun nuts aren’t always right-wing creatures. Consider the position of your heavily armed author: I say gun ownership is a necessary line of defense against investment bankers, Wall Street lawyers, big corporations, the corporated wing of the Democratic Party, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, ALEC, Nazis, gangbangers, meth -Fans, police officers, and politicians who cut social and educational programs while refusing to downsize the military or raise taxes on the rich. When I lived in New York City, I voted for Bill de Blasio. I briefly believed in Obama’s Hope Change Lines. I want single-paid health care and free public higher education and a carbon tax and the end of the drone state of warfare, surveillance and killers – and I want the Second Amendment to be protected.

America’s gun violence epidemic

I like my guns. I like the Colt Trooper .357 Magnum and the FN .40 and the Lee-Enfield .303 and the Remington 12 gauge and the Ruger Mini-14 with 30-round clip and the Smith & Wesson Model 39 – the latter a gift from my father , a New Yorker and, like me, a liberal several planets to the left of President Obama. My father is a member of the NRA, God help him. He shrugs and says, as an excuse, that he likes the group’s monthly magazine, .

The liberal cannon tribe I’ve come to know over the years includes writers, activists, musicians, teachers, professors, climbers, wilderness guides, environmentalists, and at least one shaman. If I dared to name the unifying ideological inclination of these people, I would say it is anti-statist socialism – communitarian, decentralized, anarchist. Kiley Miller, a buddy who lives in Moab, Utah and runs an environmentally friendly housekeeping service, keeps guns because “the thought that only the government, police, sheriffs, and military have guns gives me goosebumps.” This is a woman who describes herself as “a radical environmentalist as far left as possible” and who will break my eggs if I miss the daily dose of Democracy Now. Another armed liberal living in Moab, Matt Gross, a friend of mine and Kiley, was the man behind Howard Dean’s web campaign – as director of online communications, he raised an unprecedented $ 25 million online US Dollars – and went on: worked as senior online strategist for the Democrats in two major Senate campaigns and as senior web advisor to John Edwards during his 2008 White House candidacy. “The right doesn’t own the flag, either the weapons still the constitution, ”Gross wrote to me in an email. “You can be a progressive champion and still know how to use a Glock. I support the HRC “- this is the human rights campaign that works for equal rights for LGBT people -” but that does not mean that I am unarmed. ”

My buddy Brian Ertz, an environmental activist studying law in Boise, Idaho, tells me that his guns are primarily used for hunting – for meat – and also wears them for protection. “I know the mighty state’s willingness to fight and I have good reason not to trust the government when it comes to protecting my family from others and from the state itself,” says Ertz. “I understand that the exercise of the second amendment is effective. You don’t have to overthrow the government to send a signal that will piss those in power in fear. The country’s political elite didn’t take Martin Luther King Jr. seriously until Malcolm X showed up with a gun and got the idea that members of an oppressed class don’t need to ask permission from the establishment. ”

Your Right to Bear Arms: The Rise of the Gun Culture for Women

Colorado-based cartoonist and writer Travis Kelly explains his position on the liberal gun mania on his website. “I am sure the whole filthy, shocking history of the Bush administration has spurred many more liberals to reassess the Second Amendment and the enduring wisdom of the Founding Fathers,” he writes. “That’s when I started buying weapons. Tyranny can be left-handed or right-handed, and it could be argued that it is now ambidextrous. ”However, Travis was driven by a personal self-defense story told by a friend who kidnapped and kidnapped on a lonely stretch of the Texas highway years ago was almost raped. Fortunately, she had a pistol in her pocket, a .38 revolver, and shot her assailant in the stomach as he was unbuckling his pants. “And the lesson is: The police can’t always be everywhere, they are not all-powerful and we don’t want that either,” writes Travis. “There are times when individuals must be responsible for their own self-defense. . . Guns are the great counterbalance to larger predators or the political tyranny so feared by the fundamentalist gun crowd. ”(Note that some far left and far right meet in their disdain and aversion to centralized power – a sign of hope .)

Ah, but I hear objections from the gun control lobby. Criminologists Don Kates and Gary Mauser analyzed in a much discussed article in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy in 2007 the claims of anti-weapon advocates that, for example, a “gun in the closet to protect against burglars” would most likely be used to kill one To shoot spouses in a moment of anger ”; that “most homicides involving guns” [are] the result of impulsive acts by those with little or no criminal background or known to the victims ”; that the majority of gun homicides are not due to criminal activity, “but rather to disputes between people who know each other”; that thousands of gun murders are committed each year “by law-abiding citizens who would have remained law-abiding had they not owned firearms”. These claims, according to Kates and Mauser, “do not appear to be based on evidence and, in fact, contradict facts so consistently established by murder studies from the 1890s that they have become ‘criminological axioms’.”

More guns, it seems, doesn’t mean more murder. During the 25-year period from 1973 to 1997, Kates and Mauser found the following:

The number of American-owned small arms rose 160% while the number of all firearms rose 103%. During this period, however, the homicide rate fell by 27.7%. It continued to decline in 1998, 1999 and 2000, although two to three million handguns and about five million firearms of all kinds were added each year. By the end of 2000, the total American gun inventory was well over 260 million – 951.1 firearms per 1,000 Americans – but the homicide rate had returned to the comparatively low levels before the surge in the mid-1960s through the mid-1970s. In sum, the data for the decades since the end of the Second World War. . . cannot stand it, the more weapons mean more death mantra. . . The evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that gun ownership levels have little impact on violence rates.

But maybe we shouldn’t trust the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, a right-wing corporation that over the years has celebrated the scholarship of evil bastards like Antonin Scalia, William Rehnquist, and John Yoo. Instead, consider the conclusions of epidemiologist Brandon Centerwall, who writes in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Centerwall compared criminal killing rates in neighboring states of the United States and Canada in the 1970s and viewed handgun possession as a factor. Canadians had a handgun possession rate of about one-tenth that of the United States, yet there was no difference in the homicide rate.

Or consider the work of criminologist and psychologist Hans Toch, professor emeritus at the State University of New York’s School of Criminal Justice in Albany, who found that there could indeed be a negative correlation between guns and violent crime in England. Incidentally, Toch was one of the early advocates of gun control when he advised the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence, popularly known as the Eisenhower Commission, in 1969, which advocated the mass confiscation of small arms. In a 1991 letter, Toch claimed that “male firearm possession rates tend to be inversely correlated with violent crime, a curious fact when firearms encourage aggression. It is difficult to explain that where guns are densest, violent crime is lowest, and where guns are least tight, violent crime is highest. ”Toch points out that“ guns when used for protection , Can seriously inhibit aggression and provide a psychological buffer against fear of crime. Furthermore, the fact that national patterns, where guns are densest, show little violent crime means that guns do not induce aggression in any meaningful way. ”

As Kates and Mauser pointed out, a 2004 study by the US National Academy of Sciences found “no credible evidence that ‘right to wear’ laws” – passed in 34 states at the time – “include violent crime, either decrease or increase. “While the NAS study found that current research showed” associations between gun availability and gun suicide, “the research, which has its share of gun control skeptics, had not shown” whether such associations are real patterns of cause and Reveal effect. “The key message of the report:” The data on firearms and violent crime are too weak to draw meaningful conclusions about the effects of various measures to prevent and control gun violence. ”

I have had guns in my household for a dozen years and no one I love has been killed, nor has anyone I do not love has been killed. My wife and I enjoyed a lot of terrible fights and we didn’t shoot each other. I get into the obvious arguments with left-wing friends in New York City, who are appalled that I have guns and think I’m a nutcase. When I hike in the wild, I carry the .40 pistol or the .357 Magnum, a smart answer to grizzly bears. When I travel the American West on assignment, I have a handgun in my car. On happy nights of writing I like to take a break, go to the backyard and shoot a dozen rounds with the Mini-14 – and don’t dare to stop me.

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