Two Kinds Of Gun Nuts
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Bill Waugh / Reuters

You can divide gun nuts into two groups. There are gun nuts like me, who just like to play around with guns. So we buy them, we sell them, we trade them, we collect them, it’s all for fun. At one point I decided I wanted to own every Colt handgun ever made, and my collection got up to about 70 guns, including two original Single Action Army revolvers, then I sold them all and bought a Harley Low Rider so I could pretend to be a Hog. Then I wanted to own every Star pistol, then every Walther, and on and on. And along the way, I met plenty of gun nuts just like me.

Then there are the gun nuts for whom guns represent some kind of ‘statement’ about who they are and who they want to be. Angela Stroud has figured them out pretty well in her new book, Good Guys with Guns, in which she basically says that these guys want to feel stronger and more powerful than everyone else, so they walk around with guns. And they tell everyone that they ‘need’ a gun to protect themselves and everyone else from crime, but the truth is that it’s really just empty talk because they have never actually been victims of any crime at all.

The NRA has been promoting this concealed-carry nonsense for twenty years in a scam attempt to sell more guns, but if you take a look at The Armed Citizen column, the number of actual instances – all unverified – in which an ‘armed citizen’ actually prevented a crime amounts to somewhere around 80 times per year. John Lott posts stories about armed citizens stopping crimes on his website – one here, one there. The most recent data comes from our friends at the Gun Violence Archive and puts the total 2016 defensive gun use (DGU) number at 1,349.

But if you want to prove to everyone around you that you’re really a big man, a tough guy, a real citizen-protector, who cares whether it happened or not? The whole point of a story is the enjoyment you get by telling it and how telling it makes you feel, truth being totally beside the point.

And this was how I felt when I watched the Trump tape. Notice I don’t say which tape. The Trump tape. Everyone knows which tape I mean. And when I watched the tape my first thought was that none of his ‘locker-room’ talk actually occurred. Because he was obviously trying to impress Billy Bush who basically sat there and giggled and laughed at whatever The Donald said, and it was Trump who kept upping the ante, and made the comments more lewd and more vulgar as his monologue rolled on.

By the time Trump got off the bus he had made so many claims about his sexual prowess, conquests and failures that it would be impossible to actually nail down what was false and what was true. But this is exactly the feeling I get when I’m standing in a gun shop or at a shooting range and a couple of gun nuts start comparing and competing with each other over their DGUs. This guy stopped a convenience-store robbery from taking place, that guy made someone back away who menaced him in front of an ATM. The only person I know who actually pulled out a gun and pointed it at someone was a friend I had to bail out of jail because the potential predator, who was actually going to ask him directions to the local hospital, promptly got back into his own car, called the cops who turned up and arrested my friend for menacing someone with a gun.

There’s a reason why Gun-nut Nation loves Mister Trump. There’s a reason why Mister Trump toadies up to the NRA. They’re both in the business of concocting stories, except that Trump’s still on the ballot for November 8.

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