Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Gun Guys

I usually don't review books that I blurb-- but if you have any strong views on guns, on either side, take a look at Dan Baum's Gun Guys . There are several reasons to (on top of its being a fine piece of reporting and a good read): first, genuinely pro- gun books by unabashed liberals are unusual; second, who is more likely to persuade fence- sitters we gunners are human--an NRA life member or an unlikely Jewish liberal from (Yikes!) BOULDER-- a person who obviously had to think out of his "box"?? And before you jump, I have been in the NRA for thirty years. I know that I often avoid the subject unless pushed, and Baum's work makes it easier to be pro- gun and have non- gunners listen.

OK, my blurb: "“You don't have to agree with Dan Baum on everything; perhaps a gun-loving self-described liberal Democrat from Boulder is so unique nobody will. But he has written the most original book on the gun culture yet, fair, funny, and as informed as it is iconoclastic. I urge all my friends, both those in the NRA and those who think guns are evil, to read, learn, laugh, and recognize themselves. Gun Guys is an unlikely bridge for our too-polarized time.”

I am known for being odd. I might add that his other "blurbers" are Masssad Ayoob, today's most- read defense and handgun guru, as well as an ex - cop and a respected teacher, gun writer, and expert witness; and Ian Frazier, New Yorker writer and author of among other good things Great Plains and In Siberia, who I believe now lives in Brooklyn though he has lived in Montana. Pretty strong three- legged stool-- I am pleased to be in the company of two very different writers I enjoy.

And one more thing: Baum got a rather grumpy review in the Wall Street Journal this AM, and I think it was unfair. While its author admitted the good aspects of the book, he seemed riled that Baum admitted to any internal conflicts, and that he portrayed some rather odd folks as well as admirable ones. Get off your pedestal! Baum did not interview or describe a single lunatic or jerk, just some eccentrics and a lot of good people; Libby, who has been among mad gunnies now for at least 20 years, and is as pro Second amendment as one can be, says it is the truest and funniest portrait of the gun culture she has ever read. Does the reviewer seriously think the ranks of the pro- gun contain no nuts or freaks? I know more of them than Baum portrays; I even like some! But pretending we are all perfect won't fool anybody, and every character in Gun Guys is a portrait, not a caricature. I'd give it to a literate anti in a second, and expect them to come away knowing that in the political definition of the term that there is NO SUCH THING as an "assault rifle". Next question?

The reviewer also thinks that Baum is lukewarm, but I defy him to find a single suggestion in favor of anti- gun legislation in this book. What Baum does ask for is our internal pressure on fools and unsafe practices- the force of culture, manners, the value of shaming-- another matter entirely, and one I support, as do such sites as The Truth About Guns. Might I tease the author by saying such suggestions and beliefs are thoroughly "conservative"?


Anonymous said...

Sounds interesting. As a gun guy and one who is frustrated by the BS binary political culture, I'm all for breaching barriers and building bridges.

Since Newtown, I've been wrestling with the nature of the responsibilities of the gun culture. We've got to take the lead in separating the drunks from the car keys. I believe in the people in arms,but firearms ownership and use has to be taken more seriously. I've argued for a licensing regimen, including mandatory training, particularly for handguns — a "concealable weapons permit" perhaps. But that may be logistically unrealistic.

No easy answers. Don't believe in bans of certain types of weapons — ineffective; cosmetic and wrongheaded. But real background checks and some level of qualification seems to me to be the long term benefit of the gun culture.

Jim Cornelius

Jonathan Hanson said...

The head-in-the-sand, line-in-the-sand approach to gun rights is not going to work any longer. Sandy Hook was our Dunblane, and if we're to keep the rights we need to continue owning guns, we need to identify and support legislation that will actually work to reduce gun violence. We all know that reducing magazine capacity won't do it, and banning "assault weapons" won't do it. But other measures on the table that are still damned by the NRA might.

Regarding the "gun nuts" issue: I have a friend who is a manager in a gun store, and some of the tales he tells about perfectly legal buyers are terrifying. Such as the customer who was absolutely convinced that Obama had government agents commit the Sandy Hook killings to provide an excuse to push gun control. Do YOU want him owning guns? Yet he walked out with one . . .

Dave said...

I always find the American association of being a gun-control advocate and liberal or Democrat to be one and the same. I know many Republicans and conservatives who are anti-guns; and many Democrats and liberals who pro-guns. It has always peeved me off people associate gun-control with being a leftist or socialist when some of most gun-friendly countries in the world are socialist. So, it would be nice to read a leftist gun advocate for a change rather than reading the rheotrics of someone who dress himself as an under-educated hick to peeve people off.

Thank you for recommending the book, I will probably would enjoy reading it.