Almost 8 years ago, I shot a gun for the first time, not because I was interested in guns, but because I was afraid of them.
I’ve come a long way since then, both personally and professionally.
When I began my research on guns, I wanted to assuage the (legitimate) concerns of people in the gun culture about how they would be understood and portrayed by an outsider. Mas was good enough to write me a letter of introduction, which I sent to other gun trainers when I contacted them about observing their courses. I have never had anyone turn me down.
I know Mas’s endorsement helped me establish a reputation early on as someone who truly tries to live up to Spinoza’s ideal: “I have sedulously endeavored not to laugh at human actions, nor to lament them, nor to detest them, but to understand them.”
Fast forward 6 years and I am on my way to Ohio to participate in a shoot house course at Alliance Police Training being offered gratis to members of the media who cover guns, at the invitation of Paul Carlson of Safety Solutions Academy, who not long ago was to me just a Gun Culture 2.0 thought-leader whose podcast I listened to religiously (still do, actually).
When I told Paul that I had little experience shooting rifles as will be required for the Alliance Police Training course, he arranged for another person whose podcast I listened to religiously — Daniel Shaw of Shaw Strategies and the Gunfighter Cast podcast — to give me an individual lesson. Unbelievable.
This all came on the heels of what is perhaps the biggest evidence of how far I have come over the past 6-8 years: Massad Ayoob endorsing my work once again, but this time publicly on his blog and without my asking.
So I look at all this and say — with bemusement and gratitude, not conceit — I have come a long way, baby. I’m not totally sure how.