Choose the most adamant anti-gun peacenik you know and give him a tommy gun to shoot at a stick of dynamite. Then strap him to a polygraph and ask him if it was fun.
Dan Baum, Gun Guys
A handful of books have enjoyed such ubiquitous popularity that you could scarcely call yourself an American if you didn’t own them: Poor Richard’s Almanac; Sears Roebuck’s Catalog; Benjamin Spock’s Baby and Child Care.
If you are a liberal who owns guns, Dan Baum’s Gun Guys: A Road Trip MUST be on your bookshelf.
Do you remember the excitement of finding out there were other liberal gun owners? People who were pro-union, pro-choice, pro-marriage equality AND pro-gun?
That’s the kind of excitement I got from reading Gun Guys. Each page elicited a little of that thrill I got when I stumbled upon The Liberal Gun Club.
In short, this is the story of one of our own.
A hard-looking man with a table full of AR-15s was also selling envelopes containing two plastic yellow pellets. ‘BAMA BALLS, said the card stapled to the envelope. “They’ll raise your taxes, take your guns, leave your border unprotected and surrender two wars.” Beside them lay baseball caps emblazoned with JOHN 3:16.“What’s that passage say,” I asked.“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”I opened my mouth to point out the irony of quoting the gospel of Jesus while deriding the policies that might assist the poor or turn swords into plowshares, but then I remembered I was in a room full of armed Nebraskans and let it go.
Dan Baum, Gun Guys
Donning an NRA cap and a .38 Special, Baum leaves his home in the liberal enclave of Boulder, Colorado, and undertakes a two-year walkabout to discover what it means to be a Gun Guy – one who is often frustrated with his fellow Gun Guys.
Baum visits gunshot victims, CCW instructors, 3-gun competitors, Hollywood gunsmiths, the NRA, and the Brady Campaign. He also visits with a lot of rank-and-file Gun Guys (and Gun Gals) who aren’t at all liberal. But Baum finds a sympathetic and enlightening thread that connects them all together.
Baum’s journalism chops come through as he counters, from a liberal perspective, the most common gun control arguments. He also counters some of the NRA’s own talking points as well. The book has more than 36 pages of notes, sources and bibliography. This alone is worth the purchase price for anyone who finds herself in arguments over gun control with fellow liberals.
In an epilogue written after the Newtown, Connecticut, shooting, Baum writes about three safety proposals in the wake of that terrible tragedy.
Baum is a very safety-conscious Gun Guy – Jeff Cooper’s Rules are listed in full no less than three separate times and Baum often laments that the NRA has deviated from the strong safety focus it once had.
That said, Baum is no casual supporter of the Second Amendment. He spent two years concealed carrying wherever legal to do so. He also participated in a full-auto machine gun shoot and characterizes machine gun enthusiasts as harmless gear-heads and history-nerds.
But one of his suggestions for improving gun safety was mandating that gun owners secure their guns when not in use. This is something opposed by many LGC members, largely because enforcing such laws would require the government to search private property.
Fortunately, he has come to realize that this suggestion is folly and no longer supports mandating the securing of firearms.
Rather than enforcing laws requiring the locking-up of guns, he wants to foster a culture among Gun Guys that is more strongly focused on firearms safety. This is something I think LGC members can wholeheartedly support.
While I don’t agree with everything Baum says, we liberal gun owners are pretty big tent. I am probably a bit more militant about Second Amendment rights than Baum, but there are bigger differences between myself and others on this board, and that’s just fine.
Reading Gun Guys helped solidify my own identity as a liberal gun owner. For every time that I said “that’s me!” while reading Baum’s book, I probably also said “I hadn’t thought of that.”
I highly recommend Gun Guys mostly because it’s a really good read. Baum is an accomplished and engaging author, and until one of us writes one, this is probably the only book by an actual liberal gun owner you’ll ever read.
It’s time for you to stop reading my blathering and go order this book (now available in paperback).
Discuss on the LGC forums here!