” Dan Baum is not your typical gun guy. He has a lifelong love of firearms he can trace back to the age of five. But he’s also a Jewish Democrat and a former staff writer for The New Yorker and feels like a misfit next to most gun owners, who identify overwhelmingly on the conservative side of the spectrum.
In order to bridge this gap, Baum set off on a cross-country journey, chatting with everyone from a gun store owner in Louisville to a wild boar hunter in Texas to a Hollywood armorer. The result is Gun Guys: A Road Trip. I spoke with Baum about his trek through gun country and why this issue is one of our nation’s most complicated and politically divisive.
You write that you didn’t want to be part of a gun culture, even though you were a “gun guy” yourself. Why did you feel this conflict?
This is one of the things I was trying to figure out — why a fondness for firearms, these beautiful mechanical devices that are so fun to shoot, always seems to be found on the same chromosome as political conservatism. I’m not a conservative. At the same time, often I’d be around my “tribe” — the liberals — and they’d say these terrible things about gun people. “Gun nut,” “penis envy,” all this stuff. I’d keep my mouth shut. I didn’t feel particularly comfortable with either group. That’s why I always wanted to do this book.
How did the act of carrying a weapon every day affect you?
There’s a part of every gun guy that wants to carry a gun because you get to be with your gun all the time. I know that sounds weird, but not if you like guns, you like handling them. Most of the time you don’t get to. You take them out of the safe once or twice a year.”
*And ‘Gun Girls’ we would add …
- A Liberal With a Gun (outsideonline.com)
- ‘Gun Guys,’ by Dan Baum (sfgate.com)
- Why Liberals Should Support Armed Self-Defense (bloomberg.com)
- Gun Nuts (tcburnett.wordpress.com)
- ‘Gun Guy’ takes a shot at playing mediator (knoxnews.com)
- What do ‘gun guys’ really think? Author Dan Baum shares what he’s learned (startingpoint.blogs.cnn.com)