Thoughts on My Appearance on CNN’s Reality Check with John Avlon

In the wake of the mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, I have had the opportunity to share my views of American gun culture with a number of media outlets. But my biggest opportunity so far came when my friend, the gun historian Ashley Hlebinsky, recommended to a CNN producer that he speak with me about being a guest on John Avlon’s show “Reality Check.”

The episode went live while I was touring San Francisco with my wife, so I only had a chance to watch it recently. It’s available on the CNN website or the CNN YouTube page. Check it out and let me know what you think. My thoughts on the episode are below.

Many gun rights activists (among others) have little trust in the “mainstream media.” I have generally been treated well by journalists, though they certainly have an established narrative that structures their writing about guns. I am usually working against that narrative. But I would rather have my perspective represented than not.

I spoke with John Avlon for over 30 minutes about a whole range of issues relating to guns. Knowing the episode would be about 12 minutes long, and half of it would be Avlon introducing the issue, I was unsure what 3-5 minutes out of 30 they would use.

I have to say I was impressed at how much time they gave me, and I thought the editing was very fair.

Avlon is a political commentator so had a perspective on the issue he was pushing. I doubt I changed his mind about anything we discussed, but they gave me an opportunity to express my perspective and that’s all I can ask. Perhaps some gun curious viewers out there have a slightly better understanding of the broader reality of guns in America that they didn’t have before.

At one point, Avlon asked me about instances of mass gun confiscation in the United States. I said I didn’t know and asked him if he did. Although this doesn’t make me look great, I liked that they included this interaction because one frustrating aspect of the gun debate in America is everyone is an expert and no one acknowledges their uncertainty. I *AM* an expert and still have a great deal of uncertainty about the reality of guns in America.

I am reminded of Jon Meacham’s commencement address at Wake Forest University a few years ago when he said reason requires that you accept you may be wrong.

Since the episode People have weighed in on my social media offering instances of gun confiscation in American history. As I have been discussing in my “Light Over Heat” videos this past couple of weeks, I am constantly learning.

I am a scholar of gun culture not gun violence so I don’t have ready-made “solutions” to the problem of mass public shootings like claim to. I do wholeheartedly embrace my conclusion: less shouting, more talking. I tried to model that on “Reality Check.”

I was surprised when the show ran some clips of me at the range from my YouTube channel, including showing me in my “Guns Are Normal, Normal People Use Guns” shirt.

Available on my Gun Culture 2.0 Spring store.

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  1. When John said that the “myth” that a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun was debunked in Uvalde, he conveniently omitted that two good guys with a gun eventually did stop the killer while 19 cops stood around with their thumbs up their butts. Also, the day after Uvalde, a woman in Charleston,WV stopped and kill an active shooter using his AR15 with her pistol. I have yet to see that story reported on CNN as it doesn’t jibe with their narrative.


    • You are correct, though I don’t particularly like the “good guy with a gun” slogan for other reasons. I’ve been trying to get a newspaper to take my opinion essay on this, so maybe you will see it someday!


  2. Prior to Dunblane, the UK had never experienced a mass school shooting. It’s a stretch to claim that the handgun ban was responsible for the subsequent absence of school shootings.


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