The phone rang this afternoon and the only way I knew who had called was from the CallerID. The roisterous laughter at the other end of the phone prepared me that something good was coming. But what would just have to wait until the caller could gain control of his humor [humour for our British Commonwealth friends].
I have known Ray Vaughn for years…we work together in the same profession and share some hobbies, seeing each other as time and work permit as he lives mostly in New York City and I am mostly in Kentucky. Today, I found out how much we are alike which is a bit of a surprise as I am mostly liberal and he is mostly conservative. One of the hobbies we share is target shooting, killing paper at the gun range whenever it is possible to get together. Neither of us is a gun “enthusiast”, while we have both been shooters since we were kids and like the skill of “competitive plinking”, we do not define our lives by an enthusiasm toward guns.
And today I found out we have one other thing in common…we have both been banned from smith-wessonforum.com. Not for being rude, not for posting obscenities, not for name calling, and not for being confrontational. Both of us, a bit over six months apart were banned for the sole reason of disagreeing with the established forum position on the NRA and on our opinions of gun rights/responsibilities/regulation.
Let’s look at Ray’s experience. The simple, and very good question asked on the forum was “I am curious, how many people here own firearms but are not NRA members?” The debate on that began in 2011 and continued through today. Ray’s answer was equally clear…
“I don’t support Big Pharma lobbyists; I don’t support Wall Street lobbyists. Lobbyists are killing this country; buying votes, limiting debate to those with a big checkbook.
From that position I won’t be a member of NRA just because they support something to which I agree.” – Ray Vaughn
One might think it was simple, an honest answer to an honest question. But it was not. The forum, from the owner to regular participants doesn’t want to listen to a different point of view, they don’t have the capacity to take honest debate and learn from it. In their narrow little world, if someone doesn’t support the NRA or support their personal interpretation of the 2nd Amendment…they are the enemy, and treated as such. They name call, they insult, and they make up “facts” to reply to that differing view.
Now, if Ray was anti gun, interested in “gungrabbing” as they call it, it might be different. But that is not the case. Ray is a gun owner…has been for nearly as long as I have and his pretty conservative views on the subjects of guns and addressing gun violence are reasonable. And that is the problem. Taking a reasoned approach to the very real subject of gun violence in this country is looked down on, it is scorned, and it is rejected because it is not what their echo chamber wants to hear.
So they act like petty little girls and run and ban someone just because the point of view they hear is different. I could understand it if the general membership took that position – it is their right as they play in a public sandbox. But when the forum owner is just as childish, just as biased, and just as myopic…that becomes a problem. One person decides what opinion is important. And from his hand built echo chamber…if it is not his opinion it has no right to exist.
So we have a paradox, a gun forum that adamantly supports the 2nd Amendment at the expense of intentionally turning its back on the 1st Amendment and free speech.
What can we learn from this? Well, first we have learned that gun owners, at least those who participate in gun fora have no interest in solving the problems associated with gun violence. They do have an interest in protecting their point of view, and only their point of view, as if they speak for all gun owners. And they have an obsessive, hero worship view of the NRA and its spokesmen – they can do no wrong.
We also know this. When you tally up the total number of members of gun fora, members of NRA and other lobbying organizations like GOA we see that the myopic, intransigent, yet vocal collective of “gun enthusiasts” make up less than 5,000,000 people. That is just SIX PERCENT of the estimated 75-80 million gun owners. The rest fall under several categories…liberal gun owners [we make up at least 33% of that 5Million total] like me, conservative gun owners who don’t believe in or support the NRA, like Ray, and a third, apparently very large group…that group of gun owners who keep guns as a tool, not a hobby, not an obsession, and not a statement of their manhood or their patriotism.
When everything settles in the conversation regarding gun violence, and what laws to be implemented are settled, look at those fringe gun owners, those who refuse to listen to differing views, instead holding onto intransigent views as one of the reasons the laws passed.
McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.