The Cool Factor of Guns: the Latest Liberal Attack Angle

Guns. They’re used in movies, plated with gaudy gold and glimmering silver, to signify the toughest, richest drug lord or Mafioso. They’re held sideways, waved around rather wantonly, gripped improperly, and aimed in impressively strange angles while scoring a direct hit (yes, Walking Dead, I’m talking to you). Even the good guys often have guns the movie’s producers deem as “cool” which often means the appearance of a Glock – frequently the Glock 17, specifically – or, for rifles, various models of the AR-15, because movies just cannot do without the inclusion of a big, bad, black gun. By Hollywood movie standards, guns lend characters a little panache, giving them that “cool” factor they might otherwise apparently lack. And now the liberal left has jumped on the cool factor train – or, should we say, the “uncool” factor of guns and gun owners.

Although it isn’t exactly a new approach, the article discussing the “uncool” of guns first hit the internet in mid-October. It was titled “What If We Made Gun Culture Uncool Like We Did Cigarettes?” and, while it wasn’t published on a mainstream media site but rather a fairly unknown, Talking Points Memo, it seems to have struck a chord. The author, Michael Maiello, has apparently written for other gems such as Esquire, The Daily Best, and The Newer Yorker – and no, that last one is not a misprint, we’re referring to a self-published WordPress blog, not the most well-known newspaper in the country. Despite its humble posting location, at the time of this writing Maiello’s piece has garnered a sadly impressive 30,000 likes which doesn’t quite line up with the 18,767 page views, but you get the idea: this anti-gun post is making its rounds, and it’s cutting a deep liberal swath along the way.

“I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.” (George Mason, co-author of the Second Amendment, during a speech at the Virginia Ratifying Convention on June 14, 1778)

According to Maiello’s post, the answer to making the left’s gun-control dreams come true lies in removing the cool factor. He believes guns are only popular in the United States because they’re seen as “cool” and depicted in countless movies as the answer to every problem. Have a bad day? Get a gun. Someone looks at you sideways? Get a gun. Starbucks serves you the wrong latte? Get a gun. The comments section of the article echoes the author’s beliefs as well with remarks ranging from outrage over the death of children due to easily available firearms to the somewhat stunning idea that installing standard gun safes and gun racks in all cars just as ashtrays and cigarette lighters were standard for so many years would somehow shock people into seeing how ludicrous gun ownership really is. The comments alone could supply enough content to write a dozen or more articles, but let’s stick to one for the time being.

Fire GunFirst, the obvious statement must be made: yes, guns are cool. However, they are not cool in the way the author implied in his anti-gun rant. The majority of responsible gun owners do not own or purchase firearms because they think they will look cool with them; they do so because they want to defend themselves, hunt for good meat, or master a new skill with a new model or caliber. Yes, there are the occasional gun owners who pose for poorly thought out social media pictures depicting them aiming their pistols right at the viewer, typically while wearing their best bad-ass expression, but they are the exception, not the rule. Most gun owners with guns featured in their social media profile picture do so because the gun was part of the hunt being shown or the target practice or training course underway at that time. Or maybe it’s a new gun – or, yes, a cool gun – and we’re proud of it. There is a monumental difference between being proud of a gun and thinking one makes you cool, just as there is a difference between being proud of your new car and going drag-racing with it – and a difference between responsible and irresponsible firearm use. Gun owners enjoy new guns just as a collector of rare books loves the discovery of a first edition: we enjoy them knowing what they are and with respect as to their handling and care.

“No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.” (Thomas Jefferson, Virginia Constitution, Draft One, 1776)

There’s something interesting about Maiello’s use of truth.com’s campaign to end smoking as an example of what should be done to end the existence of gun ownership in the United States. The anti-smoking campaign has had a significant impact on young smokers; a serious reduction in new and young smokers can be directly tied to the efforts of truth.com, and now they’ve moved on to try to convince the current generation to be the one that ends smoking once and for all. It’s an impressive movement; one backed by the American Legacy Foundation, a 501(c)(3) that was started back in 1998 as part of a Master Settlement Agreement between a large group of attorney generals, five U.S. territories, and the tobacco industry itself. What is an MSA? Well, this particular MSA is what the tobacco industry grudgingly agreed to as a way to settle their many, many lawsuits with Medicaid, but it isn’t all they had to do. In addition to the creation of the American Legacy Foundation and its truth campaign, the MSA involved the cessation of certain advertising practices and payments to various states to offset the costs of the many tobacco-related medical bills being racked up, along with a few other details. And while it technically has backers from both sides of the political aisle, truth.com has always had a decidedly conservative slant. Maiello attempting to take credit as a liberal leftist for the truth.com campaign seems inaccurate at best, and using it as an example of something that could – should – be used against those who support gun rights is not only a confusing correlation to draw, it’s flat-out ludicrous.

Pistol and AmmoThe truth.com campaign began as the result of lawsuits against big tobacco companies, lawsuits started by those suffering the horrors of smoking-induced cancer and, yes, death. Countless studies have proven the incredibly addictive nature of smoking as well as its wildly dangerous side effects, side effects that range from lung cancer to emphysema to death and everything in between, and the fact that anyone continues to smoke with full knowledge of these facts is a bit mind-boggling. There is absolutely no relation between smoking and the ownership of firearms; one is an addictive, selfish habit while the other is a right granted to us by the Second Amendment, a right involving the ownership of a weapon used by its legal owners to protect and defend, not to assault and oppress. Smoking is big business, one the tobacco companies have unashamedly profited from for generations now despite their decades worth of knowledge as to its fatal effects. Firearms may be seen by some as weapons of war, but the reality remains that firearms in the hands of legal gun owners in the United States are used for self-defense and hunting and, more importantly, firearms are tools – tools that only do as directed by the human pulling their trigger. When was the last time you saw a carton of cigarettes save someone’s life or bring home a winter’s supply of venison?

“The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes… Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage rather than prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.” (Thomas Jefferson, in the “Commonplace Book” referencing 18th century criminologist Cesare Beccaria, 1774-1776)

No, there is no logic behind the use of a campaign somehow modeled after truth.com’s anti-smoking efforts to battle against gun rights. No logic behind somehow “shaming” gun owners; no logic behind removing what the anti-gun left apparently believes is the “cool factor” of firearms.

“A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercise, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball and others of that nature are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks.” (Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Peter Carr, 1785, taken from “The Letters of Thomas Jefferson: 1743-1826”)

But I digress. Back to the supposed “cool factor” of guns Maiello and those of his ilk apparently believe feeds the gun industry machine.  It seems important to note there is more than one definition of “cool” when it comes to this particular situation. Maiello refers to the Hollywood and gangster-esque idea that holding a gun in your hand makes you cool, makes you a part of the supposed “thug life” or makes you some sort of deranged sex symbol. None of those things could be much further from the truth. Legal, responsible gun ownership has to do with strength of character and the ability to protect yourself and your loved ones. It has to do with going out on a spot-and-stalk and filling your tag on a big buck or bull or huddling in a chilly blind or tree stand, glassing for the perfect doe, because you want your freezer stocked with venison this winter. It has to do with pride in our heritage, a spirit of patriotism, and a belief in our responsibilities as Americans. Owning a gun is not about being cool, it’s about being strong. Guess what? Strength never goes out of style.

“Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined… The great object is that every man be armed.  Everyone who is able might have a gun.” (Patrick Henry in a speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention)

ShooterThere will always be those who see guns and gun owners as a scourge to be wiped from this great nation’s citizenry. And, while those people may have varying reasons for their beliefs, there is an underlying theme that ties them together whether they see it or not: fear. No, this is not fear of being shot or fear of some sort of Hollywood-styled, hillybilly-esque redneck uprising; it’s a fear of liberty. It’s a fear of the freedoms which this nation was founded on, a fear of free-thinking, a fear of the very strengths our founding fathers had in mind centuries back when they penned the Constitution. For reasons that escape many of us, some people fear freedom and instead prefer the iron-fisted, jack-booted control of government. They don’t just want to be controlled and told what to do, what to think, and, heck, what to feel, they want to be taken care of, from freebie cell phones to free healthcare to food stamps to rent-free housing. Without a controlling government, they cannot have all those free things they want, and so they encourage the rapid overgrowth of government in ways a rational mind would not do. And, in turn, they not only discourage but fight against the things those currently in power also fight against, such as Second Amendment rights.

That is not to say that each and every liberal out there is so far left-leaning they’re in danger of whipping around full circle again but to say it has become all too common. Even worse, it tends to be impossible to engage in rational discussions with them; discussions covering these topics have a tendency to quickly degrade into arguments involving name-calling and insults flung about on their part when they realize they have nothing solid to back their personal arguments – many of which have been generated by the mainstream media and the politicians currently in places of power.

Are guns cool? In some ways they are; but, those who wield them responsibly know the truth: guns may be cool, but they are not toys – they’re deadly weapons. Anyone who has seen the results of a gunshot wound, whether simply resulting in injury or ending in death, feels the full weight of their power. Even those who have not seen the results are still capable of understanding the potential effects. No responsible gun owner sees a gun as a cool toy. We may enjoy range time, we may love the feel of a new pistol grip in our hands and the crisp pull of a quality trigger, but we know what guns are and they can do. Owning guns is a serious responsibility, and we bear that weight with the strength our forefathers intended. We are the III%, and this is not a game.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Katherine Ainsworth

Katherine is a military and political journalist with a reputation for hard-hitting, no-holds-barred articles. Her career as a writer has immersed her in the military lifestyle and given her unique insights into the various branches of service. She is a firearms aficionado and has years of experience as a K9 SAR handler, and has volunteered with multiple support-our-troops charities for more than a decade. Katherine is passionate about military issues and feels supporting service members should be the top priority for all Americans. Her areas of expertise include the military, politics, history, firearms and canine issues.
Katherine Ainsworth
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