Washington Post reporter Joel Achenbach recently made his way to Providence, R.I. in search of the truth about "gun guys." Admittedly, that doesn't sound like the toughest assignment he might have caught, especially if he happens to like fish or Italian food. He opens his story not in search of dinner, however, but in search of coffee. And there he begins the tale of Rob Farago, a gun guy, on his way to Starbuck's with a Glock 30SF "on his right hip, holstered under his jacket, with 10 rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber. Backup ammo is in another pocket."
Farago wasn't always a gun guy, Achenbach reports. Until a few years ago, he was a car guy, with a popular blog called the Truth About Cars, which he sold in 2009. That's when he launched TheTruthAboutGuns.com, one week after buying his first gun.
At this point, in paragraph three, I was hooked. I know a few gun guys, and a lot of non-gun guys and women, but I assumed that each of us was more-or-less born one way or the other. Not really born one way or the other--I don't think a fondness or a distaste for guns is genetic. But raised one way or the other. I wasn't prepared for the kind of dramatic conversion that Farago experienced as an adult, and I wanted to know more about it. Here's what Farago told Achenbach:
“Once you put a gun on, you gain situational awareness,” he says. After he bought his first gun, he says, “I felt grown up. It was like a coming-of-age thing. I felt like an adult.” Farago talks of the visceral pleasure of firing a gun. There is the moment before, and the moment after. Time slows. It almost stops. “It’s a Zen thing,” he says. “You can control time down to that 1/1,000th of a second.”
I'd never read anything quite like that. I fired a .22 rifle a few times as a Boy Scout, and I took a pistol class in college, because it was the only physical education offering I could find that didn't make you sweat. But I didn't have an experience anything like Farago's. Maybe gun guys and non-gun guys are born different.
Achenbach busts stereotypes about gun enthusiasts as he goes to visit Farago's mentor, David Kenik, who lives in rural Rhode Island and who "makes self-defense training films and sells them commercially. He owns many guns, including about 20 AR-15-style semiautomatic rifles, civilian versions of the military’s M-16." If someone kicks in his door, he tells Achenbach, "I'm the first responder." Farago's 9-year-old daughter has some interesting things to say about guns, too.
Achenbach's story helps us understand the motivations and viewpoints of the gun guys--why they feel the way they do, and why they are so unyielding in the face of any kind of gun restriction. It's worth reading.