My Letter to Roberta de Boer.
Mentioned a couple of posts down, the Toledo Blade posted an op-ed on the local Pink Pistols group founder. It was a pretty good piece from a self-admited “gun bigot.” I sent her an email:
Ms. de Boer:
Thank you for the interesting op-ed. I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes:
“Basically, I figure guns are like gays: They seem a lot more sinister and threatening until you get to know a few; and once you have one in the house, you can get downright defensive about them.” – Teresa Neilson Hayden
I’d especially like to thank you for admitting that you are a “gun bigot.” While I think a lot of people are precisely as the Pink Pistols described them, I also think very few see themselves that way. Especially very few people in the journalism industry or academia. Your piece also reminded me of PBS and Slate correspondent Emily Yoffe. In 2004 for her “Human Guinea Pig” series Ms. Yoffe learned to shoot. If you’re curious, her Slate article on her experience, subtitled “How I learned to love guns” is still available here:
There’s also an NPR audio interview with Ms. Yoffe linked at that story.
Your piece also reminded me of cultural anthropologist Abigail Kohn. Ms. Kohn recently published her book Shooters: Myths and Realities of America’s Gun Cultures. Ms. Kohn has also been published in Reason magazine. In her May, 2001 piece “Their Aim is True” she wrote this:
We began by studying the right-wing militia movement of the early 1990s. Our first foray into the subject would have been comical if it hadn’t been so naive. Our initial attempt to meet local militia members took us to a shooting range in the Bay Area, where we assumed local militia meetings would be held. We went on a Tuesday night, fully expecting the range to be seething with radical political activity. Why else would people congregate at a shooting range, if not to meet other like-minded, potentially dangerous right-wing gun nuts? It never occurred to us that they might be there for the simple enjoyment of target shooting.
I could not help but wonder if you were thinking similar thoughts when you went with Mr. Spradlin to the range.
I’m sorry the other party at the range was not more interested in Mr. Spradlin’s efforts, but different strokes, as they say. In the part of the blogosphere oriented towards gun rights there is quite a bit of support for the Pink Pistols organization from us straights as well as gays. Just as an example, the blog “TFS Magnum” (http://wheelgun.blogspot.com) is run by a gay woman who lives on a sailboat in Florida. It was through a post at her site that I found your op-ed. The blog “Hell in a Handbasket” (http://www.hellinahandbasket.net/) is run by an Ohio gentleman who teaches self-protection classes to violent crime victims and who works with the Pink Pistol organization in, I believe, Columbus. His name is James Rummel. Unfortunately he recently changed Internet Service Providers so his large archive of early posts is gone down the memory hole.
In closing, I’d like to thank you for illustrating, even if in a small way, that there are more and better “gun cultures” out there than the one normally portrayed in the media. The vast majority of gun owners will never shoot anyone – in cold blood, in anger, or by accident. But as you were kind enough to mention, we do not take kindly to those who would “subject innocent people to defenselessness.”
And perhaps, with some more exposure, you might join Ms. Kohn and Ms. Yoffe as a fellow enthusiast with a little different perspective on the topic of gun control.
Thank you for your attention.
It will be interesting if she responds.