Firearms / My Experience

William Alexander’s Indoctrination into America’s Gun Culture

There has been alot of buzz on my social media lately about an opinion essay published by the Los Angeles Times by William Alexander. Alexander wrote about his experience as a 60-something liberal who has just gotten into guns and attended his first NRA annual meeting this spring.

Suffice to say he didn’t have a good time at the meeting. He concludes his essay with a question, “I returned home with a new question: Can one be a responsible, guiltless gun owner who keeps up his skills at the range, or does the mere act of joining the gun culture and economy, of bringing another weapon or two off the assembly line, make me complicit?” His answer: “Perhaps golf’s a better hobby, after all.”

Alexander is the latest old liberal white guy to try to understand American gun culture. He joins the likes of Dan Baum who wrote Gun Guys and Craig Whitney who wrote Living with Guns. His unique take is perhaps best captured in the biographical note that followed his essay: “William Alexander is working on a book about his indoctrination into America’s gun culture.”

Indoctrination. Interesting and telling choice of words.

Alexander’s essay about attending the NRA annual meeting for the first time made me think about my first NRA meeting, back in 2013. I have created a separate post in which I list and link every post I have written about the NRA annual meetings. Suffice to say my take on getting into gun culture as an old liberal differs quite a bit from Alexander’s.

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8 thoughts on “William Alexander’s Indoctrination into America’s Gun Culture

  1. I think we need to read stuff like Alexander’s. I’ve told the gun violence prevention community the same thing: they need to get outside their own echo chamber.

    In reality, both sides of the gun debate often accept uncritically their own rhetoric and don’t bother to fact check. I recently caught my legislator making a statement to the effect that people who use a gun for domestic violence buy it on average a week before the event. That seemed to come out of thin air and when I challenged her, she did not answer. I asked around and did some web research and couldn’t find anything on that so I suspect it is one of those myths that become factoids. Real world data on DGU is all over the map too, depending on who you ask. The NRA says more guns, less crime. But really, the fact that there is less crime has never been proved to result from more guns. Suffice to say that there are more guns because people buy guns, and this has little to do with crime rates.

    Bringing another gun off the assembly line doesn’t create more gun violence any more than bringing one more car off the assembly line creates more DWI. Ownership does not mean malfeasance. I would tell Mr. Alexander to lighten up, but that if he lives in a place where home burglary is a possibility, buy a good, sturdy gun safe. Here in N. New Mexico, theft is a major conduit for guns getting to bad guys. Putting a roadblock between the family arsenal and a potential thief who will fence it on the black market is a good idea.

    But face it. With guns being as common as they are, some will be misused. That’s a price to pay for their commonness, just as unlawful use of cars (texting, speeding, DWI) is a guarantee that we will kill people with them too, regardless of how “law abiding” most of us are.

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