So, here’s something that the liberal media will never aggressively pursue: a liberal Democrat, who is pro-gun. Why? It ruins their narrative that all gun-owners are right-wing zealots.
But the Atlantic has an excellent interview with Dan Baum, former staff writer for the New Yorker, in which he detailed his road trip across America to give a first-hand account of these rational and responsible Americans, who are vilified by the progressive left and Beltway liberals.
Granted, I don’t agree with everything he says, but the interview, which was conducted by freelance writer Hope Reese, had four great points.
First, counter to the hysterical bloodbath claims of many leftists, we don’t have the highest homicide rate in the world. Our rate is about a quarter of the size of Russia’s. Second, Baum’s open to a discussion about teachers being permitted to have concealed-carry weapons in schools. Third, he recognizes the Democrats aren’t the party of working men anymore, and the people are beginning to notice. Lastly, he wants Democrats to not be fearful of “capable, empowered independent-thinking individuals,” who aren’t charlatans like Sandra Fluke.
Below is a chunk of the interview that captures many of these points. You can read the full thing here.
We do have one of the highest homicide rates of all developed countries.
That's not really true. Our homicide rate is a quarter of Russia's. We're high compared to Western Europe. We're high compared to Japan. But as I'm always trying to tell people -- we're not all Japanese in this country. We're not all British. We're an incredibly complicated, polyglot country with an incredible amount of personal freedom. It's a miracle we get along as well as we do. There were 11,000 gun murders last year. In a country of 330 million people, as complicated as we are and as free as we are, that may not be an alarming number.
Nick Kristoff wrote a column in the New York Times about a gun standoff that was the result of a disagreement over a goose. He argued that instead of preventing conflict, guns actually escalate it. What's your response to this?
I think we are all too cavalier with our guns. I fault both sides, really. The NRA and its handmaidens want us to believe that the whole problem is criminals, and they will not take responsibility. We need to lock guns up. Training should be better. And I think the anti-gun side needs to show gun guys more respect and needs to summon gun guys to respect themselves more. I think we all need to take this more seriously. We have 300 million privately owned guns in this country. Let's really talk about how we can be safer.
Joe Nocera at the Times runs a daily tally of gun killings. He's not running a daily tally of how many people defend themselves with guns. For one thing we don't know about it most of the time. David Hemenway at Harvard is very pro gun-control and he thinks it happens about 80,000 times a year. If that's true, that means that guns are saving 10 times as many people as they're killing.
I call for my fellow liberals to approach gun owners with respect. These are the people who understand guns, these are the people who can help us figure out how to be safer around guns. Instead, you drive them into a defensive crouch by calling gun culture the problem.
What do you think Democrats should know about the average gun guy?
I think they should know how much self-esteem gun guys derive from their guns, how patriotic they feel. And lawmakers need to stop thinking that the NRA represents gun owners, because only 4 percent of gun owners belong to the NRA. They need to think of gun owners as rational responsible people who genuinely care about gun violence and would like to be helpful.
These are precisely the kind of people the Democratic Party says it exists to serve. Over and over, people I met on my trip would say, "I don't get it. Democrats are the party of the working man. How can the Democrats do this?" They feel so alienated that they won't listen to the Democrats on climate change or health care or immigration or anything else. As a Democrat, it broke my heart to hear this over and over and over again. These are our guys. These are our people, and they hate us. We take this anti-gun position and we're giving these people away, and we're getting nothing in exchange. We are not making the country safer.
When President Obama said he thought we aren't doing enough, as a country, to protect our children, do you agree?
No, not really. I think we're doing what we can without turning ourselves into a very different country. Do we really want metal detectors in every school? Armed guards? I don't think so. Now, does it make sense if a teacher has a concealed carry permit to allow the teacher have a gun? I don't know. That's worth discussing. Given the kind of country we are and the freedoms we enjoy, there's a certain amount of bad shit we have to put up with. But that's really antithetical to the American character.
I was writing a piece in West Berlin in 1979 and a guy said to me, "You're an American. You think every problem has to have a solution." We have this impulse in the U.S. to do something. We have no national church, so the only way we can express our public morality is to say there ought to be a law. It's antithetical to the American can-do character to say there are certain things we just can't do much about.
At the end of this trip, did you feel any less conflicted about your place in the gun world?
No. I still don't really belong in either camp. If you watch the reaction to the book when it comes out, you will see that. I'm no less a Democrat than I was, but I am more attuned to the gun guy complaint -- "I am over-managed and I am under-respected as a citizen and a human being." I think the right has a point there. We need to stop fearing capable, empowered, independent-thinking individuals.
Don't hold your breath for MSNBC or CNN's Piers Morgan to give Baum the time of day, much less time on a segment to discuss his views.