Shooting is an incredibly popular activity, and attracts people from all walks of life, for all sorts of reasons. Though once thought of as an activity practiced in rural areas, and passed down from father to son, interest in firearms is “booming”around the country, with young, urban, and female shooters being the fastest growing demographics.
With so much diversity in age, race, geography, and interests, is there any surprise that there are gun lovers who aren’t conservatives, Republicans, libertarians, or independents?
The Liberal Gun Club is a group for people who like firearms — and who also happen to like, or at least not hate, liberal values. And as of Gardner’s appointment as the group’s executive director last fall, it is officially headquartered in Newton.
Gardner, a resident of Newton Upper Falls for nearly two decades, said he liked schools, roads, safety nets and, in at least every election so far, Democrats.
“But I spent all my life in the Midwest growing up,” he said. “I spent my entire summers on a farm in southeast Ohio. Hand me a rifle, go walk in the field, you see a groundhog you’re supposed to shoot it.”
Gardner happens to be a liberal and he happens to like guns. In a nutshell, that’s what the Liberal Gun Club is all about, even if its name might suggest a more activist mission.
“We try to stay out of politics,” said Bob Antia, president of the Massachusetts chapter, which has a couple dozen members. “We’re interested in forwarding the sport of shooting and doing it safely.”
The first and seemingly core viewpoint: “We favor root cause mitigation for violence prevention, stronger mental health care, addressing poverty, homelessness and unemployment rather than focusing on prohibiting or restricting one tool.”
As Antia explained further, “Guns, knifes, hammers, shovels are tools. You’re just going to replace one tool with another.”
The concept of the Liberal Gun Club can be a bit confusing for people given the country’s political landscape.
“It comes from both sides: Liberals ask why you have a gun, and conservatives ask why you are a liberal,” Antia said.
The group generally supports enforcing existing gun laws and fixing flaws in the background check system rather than advancing new rules — such as an assault weapons ban or caps on magazine capacities — that in its view would be more cosmetic than substantive when it comes to reducing gun violence.
While most of the readers of Bearing Arms tend to fall some where from the center to the right side of the political spectrum (including conservative Democrats, of whom there are more than you think), it would behoove us to remember that there are many people from the center to left side of the political spectrum who enjoy owning and shooting firearms as well.
Their “a gun is just a tool, it’s bad people who are the problem” philosophy is also something most gun owners support across the political spectrum.
Maybe there’s more common ground to work from than we thought there was, at least on this key issue.