Conservatives love guns. And I don’t mean that in a “I’ve-got-a-small-firearm-locked-in-my-closet-in-case-a-gangster-breaks-into-my-suburban-house” kind of way. I mean it in a “I’ve-got-five-pistols-and-eight-rifles-in-my-basement-next-to-the-freezer-holding-seven-hundred-pounds-of-buffalo-that-my-wife-and-I-brought-down-last-weekend” kind of way. If you’re going to understand conservatives, this is the most important lesson in the world.
A conservative may understand if you don’t like hurting innocent animals, but he may at least expect you to appreciate the shooting range. It may surprise you to learn that groups of conservatives regularly meet in the woods on early Saturday mornings to pump bullets into printouts of circles attached to wooden stakes, without any bulletproof cages separating strangers from each other or any certified authority figure running background checks on the participants.
Sometime if you’re feeling extra tolerant and friendly you should tag along with a conservative on his next excursion to the range. You may enjoy the fairness and equality in the way everyone on the range gets the same amount of time to open fire and the same amount of time to adjust their targets regardless of income, race, or number of powerful firearms. (And you can even remind him to clean up his shells to protect the environment.) Just don’t act too shocked if he tells you he likes to bring his grandkids.
Conservatives may not understand if you don’t love guns as much as they do, even though you may simply have reasonable concerns. You may be afraid that if everyone has guns then everyone will shoot each other, or worse, shoot at you. You may be afraid of children hurting themselves with their parent’s weapons or parents having an easy way to kill themselves. We conservatives should have patience with you because we understand fear too. We fear terrorism. We fear communists. Some of us even still fear that Obama will turn our country into a socialist commune where Muslim imams drive solar-powered tanks through the neighborhoods to confiscate Bibles for recycling.
But conservatives are big fans of Personal Responsibility and they don’t fear guns in the hands of responsible people who know how to keep guns and R-rated movies away from children. If you don’t mention Personal Responsibility in a conversation with a conservative, he may suspect that you prefer Big Brother or the Nanny State. (And if you suggest that maybe Big Brother is the Nanny, he will know you’re a liberal, because liberals always like to destroy traditional gender roles.)
Conservatives also support their gun infatuations with the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Liberals like to complain that the Founding Fathers never imagined we’d invent assault weapons, bazookas, or semi-automatic high-powered rifles, to which conservatives respond, I know! Isn’t that awesome?! Conservatives don’t understand why liberals don’t appreciate the progressive nature of gun technology. And if you try to knock out the “militia” line, conservatives start parsing the preamble clause and the meaning of the words “being necessary.” (Oh, yeah, conservatives can turn into formidable Grammar Nemeses when duty calls. Just don’t call them Grammar Nazis, because Nazis are communists. Or socialists. Or some other vaguely evil noun.)
This is also a chance for conservatives to break out Statistics. Conservatives are always being accused of ignoring the Facts about global warming or healthcare or whatever the latest excuse is for catapulting the nation down the evil road of socialism, and this is where the conservative yells, “Look look look at these facts!” Researchers are still trying to figure out how people kill people with guns in cities where guns aren’t allowed. (They also want to know how people break laws in cities where law-breaking ins’t allowed.) But pretty much every single study in the history of shooting and explosions proves that when good people aren’t allowed to have guns, bad people keep them and destroy the world. And all of the terrible possibilities of accidents that people worry about just don’t seem to happen in the real world. Except for Dick Cheney. (Shhhhh.)
But mainly conservatives just like to feel safe having the capacity to protect themselves. The NRA’s sole objective is to preserve that capacity, like Gandalf guarding the Shire. The NRA’s incredible lobbying skills allow the conservative to get a little lazy about gun rights, but the conservative views this as more of a division-of-labor efficiency thing. If the NRA maintains an impenetrable wizard-like shield around gun rights, it frees up the conservative to complain about things like taxes or Obama visiting mosques that George H. W. Bush visited.
Some conservatives will also speak in hushed, ominous tones about the importance of protecting ourselves from our government when it gets too authoritative – a sentiment that any liberal alive between 2000 and 2008 should certainly appreciate. Conservatives definitely don’t want their country turning into 1984 (by which I mean the Orwellian novel, not the year in which the sitting president was Ronald Reagan, the greatest conservative to ever walk the earth.)
And that’s your first lesson for understanding why conservatives like clinging to their guns and ammunition. There’s a lot more that could be said, but we’ve got to leave room for all the other things that conservatives like.
Follow @postlibertarian on Twitter to keep up with new posts...