On Becoming a Gun-Loving Liberal

*****NOTE: To everyone – please see that this is not written by Rourke. I appreciate JS for his honesty.

by JS

Firstly, I should say a bit about myself. I am a 28-year-old man, and I’ve voted democratic in every election since I came of age. Growing up, I was aware that my father owned a handgun, but, to this day, I’ve never actually seen it. Needless to say, he and I never went hunting or spent weekends together at the range.

What follows is a brief account of my recent love affair with guns and how it has changed my perspective on what it means to be an American, a liberal, and someone who has decided to cultivate a survival mindset.

Since my graduation in 2008, I’ve seen the economy take a nosedive. I fall into that unfortunate category of people with a great deal of education, but little practical experience.

Unable to find steady work, I turned to temp services to make ends meet. I found myself with a great deal of free time (and no television), so I started reading survival blogs and educating myself on related topics. I read about fur trappers in Alaska, and guys who advocate saving dryer lint for tinder.

I’m an avid camper, so learning about deadfall traps and alternative fire starting methods is very entertaining. I began buying ferro rods in bulk, attaching antler handles to them, and selling them on a website I’d created.

Also, I started putting together a few preps at home; some basic first aid supplies, dry food storage, and even maintaining a “bug-out-bag.” All this seemed very logical to me. I live in Florida, and have always been aware that hurricanes and floods could pose a problem. However, the concept of self-defense and urban survival rarely entered my mind.

Living in a comfortable suburb, as many Americans do, it’s easy to push news about violent crimes to the back of your mind. I was raised to believe that police exist to keep the peace, and prisons exist to punish those who transgress against that peace.

I recall having heated debates with my good friend, John, about gun massacres on college campuses. He, as a gun owner, argued that concealed carry laws should be changed to allow students to defend themselves in such an terrible situation. I, the gun-shy liberal, simply pictured bullets flying in all directions and greater loss of life.

So, without specific knowledge of gun laws, I hopped up on my soap box and argued for tighter restrictions. I don’t wish to over simplify the issue because I still have the same discussions, as many of us do, following a tragedy.

It is unfortunate that the blinders only come off in extreme situations, and it took the recent events in Arizona last January to fundamentally alter my perspective.

The January 2011 shooting, carried out by Jared Lee Loughner, claimed several lives and caused many more injuries. The country reeled, as it always does in the wake of such an event. The competing news organizations offered their perspectives, situated within their red and blue mindsets. Some called for tighter restrictions, others for open carry laws.

Perhaps it was due to the fact that I’d been reading heavily on survival, or the fact that the shooting had taken place at a political rally, but I realized that, in the same situation, I could easily have been a victim. I have attended numerous political rallies in large crowds, and never considered the potential danger from a single, unbalanced individual.

That realization lead inevitably to thoughts about my own safety while traveling to other events, even shopping for groceries. I started becoming more mindful of my surroundings and reading about my local laws concerning concealed weapons.

Eventually, I came to a simple conclusion: no realistic plan for surviving unforeseen events can exclude guns. Whether someone loves or hates them, guns are a reality in our society, and willful ignorance about guns can be dangerous.

So, my gun education began in the blogosphere. There is no shortage of information about which guns are best, how to carry concealed, what ammunition to use, etc. I spent the better part of a week reading anything and everything I could find. My head literally spun.

Eventually, I had the bright idea to seek out a local gun range. I took a class for first-time shooters, and I was hooked. I quickly returned for my concealed weapons class, then started jumping through all the hoops associated with obtaining my permit. While I waited for all the paperwork to go through, I rented every gun at my local range, from the .22 pistol to the Ar-15.

The day my permit arrived, I was awaiting delivery of an old police service revolver and purchased a Ruger LC9 on the spot. I practice regularly with both guns, and I’ve taken three of my friends (all first-timers) to the range with me. I went from being afraid of guns to carrying concealed in about 4 months!

I’m still assimilating all the information, and wondering what effect it will have on my opinions of gun laws, crime and politics in the long run.

I recently attended my second gun show, with a wish list in hand. Presently, I’m learning all I can about different types of ammunition. In my browsing, I saw several anti-Obama bumper stickers and overheard people bashing the liberal politicians currently seeking to limit high capacity magazines. I was, and am, an avid Obama supporter, and remain politically liberal.

The gun show is not a welcoming space for people on the far left; that came as no surprise to me. But I’m not there to talk politics, I’m there to shop. So I smile and bite my tongue. I think the clash between conservatives and progressives in gun culture mirrors the greater polarization of America at large. Since the 2000 presidential election, when I was 17, the country seems more divided than ever.

On gun laws, I believe that both sides are capable of making reasonable arguments in support of their opinions. But, my purpose in writing this article is not to stir up that debate. On the contrary, I would remind both sides, liberal and conservative, that our similarities far outweigh our differences.

As Obama said in February 2009, “The strongest democracies flourish from frequent and lively debate, but they endure when people of every background and belief find a way to set aside smaller differences in service of a greater purpose.”

The Constitution of this great nation entitles all Americans to pursue our happiness and defend our lives. My newfound love of guns allows me to do both.

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26 thoughts on “On Becoming a Gun-Loving Liberal”

  1. I have two liberal friends and they both want gun control for all and that if you own a gun, you are up to no good, unless you are a lawman.

    You are right that the Constitution entitles all Americans the right to DEFEND OUR LIVES, and all I have seen from the democratic is that want to take that right away from us.

    I hope you realize that when it’s time to vote.


  2. I’m still trying to figure out how someone can love guns yet knowingly vote for a politician that openly and proudly supports bans. You are fortunate that the right to own and carry was preserved by your predecessors long enough for you to experience it…. keep voting the way that you are and your kids won’t have that chance.

  3. I see many comments in your future….

    Lit me go first. Why would you support those that would take away your “right” to defend yourself and your family?

  4. JS, Welcome to the dark side. 😉
    However let me say a few things to you. First, we do not live in a democracy. We live in a republic, big difference. Second you cannot remain a “gun-loving liberal”. Liberals, if they had their way would take every gun from every person and melt them or drop them to the bottom of the ocean. You may remain a Democrat but if you truly want to own firearms, and continue to own them, you will find that liberalism is not for you. Your “great deal of education” is why you are a “liberal”. Our bastions of higher education are a breeding ground for liberalism, it’s not your fault.

    I don’t know where you live, but I’m from Maryland, one of the great centers of liberalism in our country. Our gun laws are atrocious, as is our crime rate. We have some of the strickest gun laws in the country and some of the highest violent crime rates to go with them.

    Winston Churchill is claimed to have said “If you’re not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you’re not a conservative at forty you have no brain.” Feed and develop that brain. Read about the progressive movement.
    Read about the founding fathers. Hopefully, you’ll made the change before 40.

    One small bit of politics, the president you voted for is destroying the Constitution you spoke of. Research “Fast & Furious” and the new detention laws that are being enacted.

  5. Great guest post. As an active firearms safety instructor I have certainly seen an increase in the number of people interested in getting some formal training. I am an advocate of Concealed Carry after proper training. Responsible firearms ownership and the “be prepared” mindset go hand in hand, I can’t agree more. You must be able to protect you and yours or someone will want what you have and you’ll have to let them take it.

  6. Thanks for sharing, JS. I too have been very liberal in my adult years, always voting Democrat, however my recent delve into survivalism has began to chip away at that mindset. I’ve now got my grampa’s guns that have spent decades in my mom’s safe and constantly ask myself if citizens should seek the type of “help” provided by the government. Sometimes “yes”, but mostly “no”, I think. Becoming a parent has helped me realize that helping my children too much actually disables their learning ability and prevents life lessons of individual responsibility from taking place. I guess I’m sliding over into more of a Libertarian view. The fact that the two major parties are actually one big group of crooks with only a facade of difference has helped me distance my affiliation. I sincerely think that backstage they’re all friends and just want to stay part of the cast. Thanks again and happy shooting!

  7. Welcome fellow gun owner!

    I enjoyed your article until the very end. I need to correct your last couple sentences. The Constitution does NOT entitle you to do anything. It does NOT grant you any rights or privileges. The 2nd Amendment does NOT give you the right to bear arms just like the 1st Amendment does NOT give you the right to free speech.

    Your new found love of guns does give you the ability to defend your in-alienable rights endowed by your creator though…;)

  8. JS, excellent post. Those who know me and/or read my blog know how anti far left liberal (their ardent marxist – leninist ideologies infuriate me) I am, but not anti Democrat. In fact I started out as a Democrat, then I had what some would call a conversion or personal evolution to Republicanism and finally now an independent (neither party fits neatly into my beliefs. The fact is that neither party owns the rights to patriotism. I suspect we would be better served by the first 100 names in the phone book then by the lot we have now. There is room for all of our varied ideologies and that is true especially in the prepper nation…. welcome, we are richer having you as a part. of

  9. You are now what we call a “Blue Dog” democrat. Politically liberal but passionate about firearm ownership and carry rights. I used to be one until I found out what Obama was slowly doing to our beloved Republic, after I supported him. I no longer support him and have gone to the Right

    Enjoy your collection and continued education.

  10. Having been a former liberal by being raised in such a fashion, I can relate. However, I reject Liberalism or Conservatism. I find it odd that people alternate between classifying me as an extreme leftist for my anti imperialist leanings and right wing radical for my support of militias within the same day. Perhaps we are all failing to realize that politics exists on a secondary plane to the left right paradigm, the question of liberty against tyranny. Perhaps if we overcome the brainwashing against humoring conspiracies, we might consider, that just maybe, powerful people have a plan to keep us divided with their media, and that politics is nothing more than a dog and pony show, in which your desires have little or no impact. Perhaps it’s time to look at protesters we dislike (I’m a Hispanic man) for example, some racists, and recognize their right to protest, because it’s what’s constitutional.

  11. Nice post. The only problem is that you’re a Liberal with a gun. The Libs in charge will never have that. You (Liberal with a gun) will pose the greatest threat to the puppet masters on the Left…..And how do I come to that reasoning? Once you figure out that you have been lied to and are mad as h-e-double hockey stick, you are going to want your Liberties back. There will be nothing worse that a newly awakened ex-Liberal with a gun. Hopefully you will wake up before it is too late and they come for your guns and you!…. That aside, Welcome to the wonderful world of the Second Ammendment! Please help us keep the Second Ammendment from being just ink on a paper.

  12. While I am encouraged to see another pro weapon/ self defense adult out there, it worries me that you still believe that you can have Obama and anti-gun politicians calling for draconian restrictions on guns via more laws that will be selectively enforced and other means that we citizens must endure that will not be shared by the elitists. You have a right to bear arms by the Constitution as it was written not as it is interpreted centuries later by left leaning courts and politicians. Enjoy the right to protect yourself and your loved ones with that weapon you fell in love with (or any other gun) while you can; anti-gunners will be looking to take that right away from you at every chance they have. You and I don’t have the secret service or police watching our backs at work and at home, we must be able to protect our families from harm until the police get around to our call in the queue. Let’s hope we are still able to defend our loved ones if the time comes. Stay safe.

  13. After reading the many fine comments… “a mix of government power and Liberty” I’m reminded of this;

    “Democracy is two Wolves and a Lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well armed Lamb contesting the vote.”
    Ben Franklin

  14. It’s great that you are learning about survival preps and guns and I don’t care about your political orientation. In the end, being a gun person will move you to the conservative side.
    As a progun person you are now a second class citizen in the eyes of the liberal political and media establishment. As a concealed carry permit holder you are a blood thirsty monster just waiting to break free. If you are a person who believes in personal responsibility and taking care of yourself, you will eventually see the welfare state in a different light. Owning and carrying guns will change you, I have seen it many times.

  15. It would be interesting to see just how many liberals there are out there like JS. It seems to me that he’s not really a prepper and experimenting rather than committing.

  16. JS Welcome to the light. A house divided against itself can not stand. Now that the scales have been removed form your eyes I would like to hear back from you in 6 months, a year, when your first child is born.

    While its amusing to hear a liberal with a Weapons permit I don’t think you will be calling yourself a liberal much longer. Good luck to you. By the way what part of Florida?

  17. I was born and raised in a pro gun family as well as a household of Democrats. I’ll stick to my rights as a gun owner and anyone who would take away my rights is just looking to control the public in my opinion.

  18. Perhaps I have a very unpopular opinion. Who knows, or really cares?

    Maybe we need to expand on Mr. Churchill’s definition: ““If you’re not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you’re not a conservative at forty you have no brain.” with “if you don’t distrust BOTH by 50, you are probably mad, or gullible, or making a bundle as a politician”.

    As the ‘citizen-in-the-street’, the problem/enemy is neither Liberals nor Conservatives, or even the idea of government, itself, but politicians, and the corporations that pay them. “We, the People” are all in this together, even though we may not agree on everything. You probably don’t even agree on everything with your spouse. It happens.

    Liberal politicians want to strip you of your rights and privileges, and make you into their version of a happy, mindless slave of the state, because they think that’s what’s best for you.

    Conservative politicians want to strip you of your rights and privileges, and make you into their version of a happy, mindless slave of the state, because they think that’s what’s best for them.

    I do wish the Founding Fathers had thought to include “None of the Above” on every ballot.

  19. JS, I see you have been treated with respect (for the most part) on the ole blog here. Keep watching your liberal leaders (and the republican machine as well) they are Both pulling in the same direction. Our liberties are under attack… I’ll not chide you for being a lib… Staying one is another story!

  20. JS, welcome to the world of reality. YOU are the only one who is responsible for the defense of yourself, your loved ones, and your property. The police simply cannot be everywhere and protect everyone at all times. I am an advocate of law enforcement and do not mean to demean, but the police can only write a report, clean up the mess, and hopefully catch the bad guy after the crime has been commited, (unless you are lucky enough to be mugged with an officer nearby.)
    Welcome to the world of responsible firearm ownership. I applaud your decision to carry. However, please get as much training as time/money allow. I don’t just mean at the range shooting paper targets. Proper presentation of your firearm, safe handling techniques, situational awareness, malfunctions, and knowledge of local laws are all important. And know who is training you. I have dealt with some “experts”. As an un-certified Range Safety Observer, I ejected an NRA Certified Range Safety Officer from our local range for dangerous gun handling and multiple safety violations. I really do not like being muzzled several times with a “hot gun”.
    Also, be aware of the mental aspects of carrying a weapon. Can you really shoot someone? Can you shoot a woman? Can you shoot a family member? There are no right or wrong answers so long as they are honest. Play ‘what if’ with yourself and be honest in answering before a situation occurs. As an armed citizen you must remember every round sent downgange is irretreiveable and has a lawyer attached. Using your weapon in a defensive manner will change your life dramaticaly.
    I don’t mean to frighten you JS. I’m just trying to be realistic. I carry daily and think more people should.

  21. Thank you for insightful comments, DesertRatJak they are needed for informed decisions.

    I shared a house with an ex-gf who was a “Licensed Armed Security Guard” in VA and WV, some years ago. 2 days of training, about 12 shots fired in the whole time (and whole life) . She DID know it was illegal to carry her piece in a gov’t building or bank. Knew that if she got pulled-over for speeding, while in uniform, tell the cop “I’m armed” and show the license paperwork, and that’s it’s just an extension of existing open-carry, not a concealed-carry permit.

    What the ‘course trainers’ NEVER said was that if she ever had to use the gun, or her nightstick ( I got her an acrylic ‘tonfa’-style stick for Xmas and taught her how to use it vs. an issue hickory ‘billyclub’) or a fist or a push or even very strong language, that:

    1) she was gonna spend a day or two talking to cops, at the very least.
    2) she would probably spend a week or 2 in court, and chance are, her employer wouldnt pay for lawyers. or lost time
    3) court is a total crapshoot. Being in the right doesn’t mean much in the real world.

    I, personally, think we should ALL carry, legally, and defend ourselves, when necessary, but be sure you understand ALL the possible repercussions, before you do.

    We’re all in this together.
    Wyzyrd <:)}

  22. I don’t understand why labeling yourself a liberal instantly makes everyone think that you support all liberal agenda. What if I label myself a “Human Rights” supporter- meaning I believe in the right of everyone to protect themselves and their family, and I believe in everyone having the same rights as everyone else. I agree that politics is a dog and pony show. And I think each side wants to limit the rights of different groups. Does that make me a liberal? Why is it ok to limit some rights but not others (if you leave religion out of it, which, btw, is supposed to be left out. Separation of church and state. We don’t have it.)
    I used to call myself a democrat, and then a liberal, and as long as the conservative right wants to limit or eliminate freedoms that everyone should have, I’ll never be a conservative. I guess that makes me an “Independent?”

    • C Girl –

      I really appreciate your comments.

      Quick question – What rights/freedoms do conservatives want to limit or eliminate?

      Thanks – Rourke

  23. I always joked with my friends that I was a moderate, i.e. a liberal who owned guns. I grew up in the country, learning to shoot and drive a tractor instead of shooting basketballs. The sheriff was 30 minutes away, so protecting ourselves was part of life. Guns were farm tools treated with the same respect as the chain saw or the power takeoff on the tractor, they were important, but they could hurt you if you did not respect them. Most gun restrictions are not a problem for me. I do not want drunks carrying loaded guns into bars, and I have no need for an AK47.

  24. You definitely are a liberal, at least when it comes to guns. “I have no need for an AK47”, so some guns are bad and some are OK. What happens when “Big Brother” decides your Daddy’s 1894 Windchester is evil because it holds more than one round and can be fired rapidly.

    So typical “guns are bad” not people.

    Over 10.8 MILLION guns were bought last year and guess what? According to the FBI crime went down. No suprize to me.



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