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by Peter Moskos

August 6, 2010

Happiness is a Worn Gun

In Harpers, Dan Baum has the best piece you'll ever read about carrying a concealed gun. Why is it the best? Because it doesn't fall into any of the usual left-wing-hate-guns right-wing-love-guns cliches.

Along with guns, Baum likes rational drug policy, bicycles, hats, food, and my book (we have much in common). He's, you know, your typical gun-loving liberal Jewish boy from New Jersey (errr).

Baum is also the author of the sleeper hit Smoke and Mirrors and the much acclaimed more recent Nine Lives.

Alas, this article is only available by subscription so you'll have to run out to your local newsstand a buy the current issue of Harpers. It's worth it. [Update: here's a pdf of the article] Here's an excerpt, not from the article, but from his gun blog:
I like guns for a lot of reasons: I hunt, I enjoy the sensual pleasure of manipulating their exquisitely exact mechanisms, I’m drawn to the history they evoke, I enjoy the elegant geometry of marksmanship. But I can’t pretend that guns aren’t at their heart instruments of lethal violence.

There may be some dark “real” reason that I like guns lurking under there -- something about my penis, perhaps, or a latent desire to dominate others by force. It may also be that I like guns for all the reasons I think I like guns. What is clear is that most of my friends, who tend to be liberal Democrats like me, don’t get it. Neither, quite frankly, do the liberal Democrats in office who keep trying to impose restrictions on a device -- and a culture built around the device -- that they don’t understand.


Derek said...

Thanks so, so much for introducing this guy. I've rekindled my interest in handguns over the past couple of years but the worsening extremism of the politics in those circles, and the complete lack of understanding or interest from my liberal friends, was making me wonder if it was possible to be a reasonable leftie who liked guns.

His blog is articulating a lot of things I've been thinking and feeling recently, and it's always reassuring to find other members of our apparently microscopic slice of the socio-political Venn diagram. I'm going to start tracking down some more of his writing.

Thanks again, and please don't be shy about pointing out others like him.

Marc said...

Jacob and Peter.

Check out "American Gun Culture Report"

-typical gun-loving socially liberal Jewish boy from Philly

Jay Livingston said...

Dan Baum carries, and everybody's happy. But we pay for his being able to buy and carry very lethal weaponry -- the right of Omar Thornton to do the same. For the past many decades, those who have the power to decide these things have concluded that it's a price worth paying. Mr. Baum surely continues to believe so. Me, I'm not so sure.

Anonymous said...

Did Omar Thornton have a concealed-carry permit? The accounts I've read haven't said. That aside, in response to Mr. Livingstone, I admit to being something of a pessimist on guns. The genie is out of the bottle. Guns are a fact of American life. Unless we're going to send the police house to house to round them all up, which is unlikely, the country will remain full of them. If there is a way to prevent lunatics and criminals from getting them, we haven't found it. So the question, for me, isn't, "Should we allow people to buy and carry very lethal weaponry." That's already been decided. The better question is, given the state of the country as it is, what is the best way to live in such a country? Were I a law-abiding person living in a dangerous place -- Otis McDonald, say -- owning and carrying a gun might make a lot of sense to me, and allowing such people to defend themselves, given the inherent inability of the police to be present when every crime is taking place, seems to have merit.

Jay Livingston said...

Dan, I agree with you. We may have had a chance back in the days of the Saturday night special to make meaningful restrictions on the manufacture and distribution of guns. But "we" decided against it. No law that anyone is proposing now could have prevented Omar Thornton. And as I said in my earlier comment, "we" decided that this was a fair price to pay.

The problem now and then is more with manufacture and sale than with ownership. Most owners are legit -- like Dan Baum. But the gun lobby also wants to continue the policies that allow bad guys and nuts to get guns. It seems incredible to me that a semi-automatic pistol can be an impulse purchase -- like a candy bar in the checkout line at ShopRite. So we get Maj. Hassan. One gun a month per buyer doesn't seem to me like an unreasonable restriction of freedom. The only people it would discomfit are the guys who drive up from Virginia to Brooklyn with a trunkful of lethality to sell on the street.

Anonymous said...

Jay Livingston belched: "But the gun lobby also wants to continue the policies that allow bad guys and nuts to get guns. "

That's a lie Jay. Where is your proof to back it up>

PCM said...

I doubt Jay is reading comments on last year's post... but I don't think that is a lie at all.

What gun-control law in the NRA for? If you're not for some form of gun control, that you're making it easier for bad guys and nuts to get guns.

Anonymous said...

PDF of the essay: