I found this book on accident. I picked it off the New Books shelf in a small local library branch. I just opened it to see what it was about. I read the first couple pages, and decided to check it out. Like all good books, I could not put it down and finished it in a day or two.
Dan Baum is nothing like me. At all. Baum is a Democrat, and clearly a person on the Left side of many issues, despite the fact that he enjoys shooting guns, collecting guns, and hunting. (Okay, he's a little like me.) Which is what makes it a good book. Baum takes 'a road trip' to interview 'gun guys' to explore America's fascination with handguns, as well as his own. He also attends gun shows, competitive shooting events, and every gun store he can find along the way.
What I disliked about the book, was his caricature-ism of the 'gun guys' he met. While I don't deny these types exist, he made it seem like that was all there was out there. (He noted, and I found this to be accurate, that many people who work in gun stores are less-than-helpful, condescending, and discourage people from coming back. But that isn't everybody. You just have to find the right store. He also noted that MANY of the gun stores he found on the internet - were gone. These two facts are related. Having a little experience in this area, I can say that many gun guys open stores because they love guns and know alot about them...but that does not make them good salesmen. If you check, you will find several gun stores in your area that are 'by appointment only.')
As I read Gun Guys, I couldn't help but think that as Baum dug deeper into the issue of guns in America, as he broke down the arguments into their most simple forms, he discovered some basic facts, including "...the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." Facts that could not be denied. But, like most on the Left, he would counter with what he felt. Luckily, we are a nation of laws, not of feelings.
At what was a turning point in the story, Baum attended yet another training class to obtain a concealed carry permit in one of the states he visited. However, this time the instructors exposed, through some drills on the shooting range, that Baum was not really prepared to use his concealed weapon of choice in a real life or death situation. Baum re-thought his idea of carrying concealed. Then he bought another gun. One that he felt more confident in, with regard to his ability to draw the weapon from concealment, possibly during a life or death moment of terror, and to accurately put, if needed, multiple bullets on target.
In the end, Baum acknowledged not just the right, but the need to bear arms. At the same time, while remaining a gun owner, Baum acknowledged he is not a sheepdog, he is a sheep. But he is thankful for sheepdogs, because he believes in wolves.
Sometimes I am asked if I carry all the time. I would say I carry 90% of the time (I won't tell you when or where I don't - just to keep you on your toes!) On days when I don't carry, I do feel as if something is missing. Why do I carry all the time? It is not the 20 years of carrying a handgun when it is not needed. It is the possibility of the one moment when it is needed.
I have carried a handgun (usually concealed) since I was young. I have a difficult time envisioning not having a firearm handy -- as you state, not because of any particular need beyond being prepared. And prepared is important.
Thanks for the book review.
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