Vocativ has a story titled “The Gun Lovers No One Talks About” that describes the politically liberal Second Amendment crowd, which is growing. The purpose seems to be to marginalize the conservative “nutjob” gun owner in comparison to just regular people who own guns.
What does it mean to be politically liberal and also a Second Amendment supporter? Here’s an answer from Jae Seifert, a Colorado resident who is “in favor of legalizing weed and physician-assisted euthanasia. He’s pro-immigrant and believes in civil rights for all Americans. In last year’s election, he was an ardent Bernie Sanders supporter — before he reluctantly backed Hillary Clinton.”
Seifert purchased an AR15 in Colorado. “I think that in this country, because we have freedom, with that comes a certain acceptance of risk,” Seifert told Vocativ in a phone interview. “So if you’re going to be free, that also means I have freedom to do things that you may not like, which includes carrying a gun.”
That’s not exactly what the liberals are pushing these days, Mr. Seifert. In fact, liberals and liberal politicians have a decidedly anti-Second Amendment attitude and policy platform so you are voting against your own interest as a gun owner if you support them. Liberals do not want you to have the freedom to do or believe things they do not like.
The interesting thing about Seifert is that he is not just a self-described liberal, but he is also a gun store owner.
The 28-year-old also owns a gun store. Seifert said it’s “just kind of getting started,” but WZ Outfitters represents a rarity in a country where gun shops are mostly associated with the conservative right. As a gun store owner with a liberal worldview, Seifert puts WZ Outfitters in a unqiue position to serve gun-lovers who shun shops owned by those who identify with the racist, xenophobic far-right. WZ Outfitters carries a range of firearms for sport and protection purposes, but you’ll find no anti-Muslim merchandise or Donald Trump-supporting bumper stickers there.
“I don’t really like that kind of traditional gun store experience where you go in, you’ve got Islamaphobic shit, really, really right wing stuff. Just the whole kind of, ‘Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge. Fuck the other guys,’” he said. “That’s also part of the reason I felt like I wanted to start my own store.”
I’m not sure what kinds of gun stores Seifert visits, but as someone who has been shooting all over the country, I’ve never seen anything like Islamaphobic shit, really, really right wing stuff at a gun store or at a gun range. I’m not including NRA stickers and signs as “really really right wing stuff.”
Seifert is not alone. “The Liberal Gun Club,” which provides “a voice for gun-owning liberals and moderates in the national conversation on gun rights,” has seen a 10% increase in its membership since the election. And there is a subreddit for Liberal Gun Owners that claims 7,000 members.
It appears that some of those who lean left don’t want to fork over money to shops run by trigger-happy, extreme right-wing folks who sell target sheets shaped like Hillary Clinton and stickers that read “Muslim Free Zone.” It makes sense, at a time when consumers are more aware than ever about the values backed by their favorite businesses and services.
Once more, I’ve never seen a gun range offer a Hillary Clinton target to its customers. As a matter of fact, where I shoot clients are not allowed to bring in images of people to use as targets. Perhaps that’s just where I hang around.
Another liberal gun store owner is Sergey Solyanik from Lynnwood, Washington. He explains in the Reddit threads that he is a “Bernie Sanders/ACLU liberal.”
“We don’t sell any actual propaganda items. We just don’t. The store serves every customer…we want everybody to be welcome here,” Solyanik said.
As far as his personal politics, Solyanik, who emigrated to the United States from the Soviet Union almost 20 years ago, also says that he considers himself to be “way to the left” of Hillary Clinton and the mainstream Democratic Party. “That means that I care lots about human rights. I care always about civil rights, I believe in equal opportunities, at least to start,” he said. “So I think that we should invest in infrastructure, we should invest in educating people, and we should respect due process.”
This guy doesn’t sound leftist to me, as the American left wants equality of outcome not equality of opportunity. But even so, where are these guns stores that sell political propaganda? Every gun range I’ve been to has been very welcoming to everybody and no one has been asked about their political beliefs or been required to pass an ideological litmus test.
The National Rifle Association is not a partisan organization. They score politicians strictly on their votes on gun legislation. But Solyanik laments the organization’s takeover by conservative Republicans. Writes Vocativ:
“With anything that people like to support politically, it’s good to have an advocacy group or a lobbying group, especially if that lobbying group is well-organized and well-funded like the NRA is,” he said. Solyanik, meanwhile, simply lamented the organization’s takeover by conservative Republicans.
But this image of gun rights being a “right wing cause” is a new one. Eugene Volokh, who many readers are familiar with, is a professor of law at UCLA and a gun control expert. Volokh explains, “I think there’s long been people on the left who have strongly believed in gun rights. In fact, it used to be that the notion of people having guns in order to protect themselves, including to be a counterweight to government oppression, has long been broadly accepted by the mainstream left, and has been very much a part of the radical left.”
“The notion that gun rights is a conservative position is something of the last two generations,” Volokh said. “Before then, if anything, many conservatives were very much in favor of government control as a means of supposedly fighting crime. And it was often the liberals who thought it is important for people who didn’t trust the police and who didn’t think the police would be willing to protect them be able to defend themselves.”
Now that President Trump is in office, the leftist rhetoric has heated up to the point where people believe the government is on a path to tyranny. Smart conservatives and libertarians have always operated under this assumption.
“Judging by your social media over the last few days many liberals have been utterly terrified that your government might turn tyrannical or that evil people will now be emboldened to hurt you. I’m going to let you in on a little thing the other half of the country is familiar with to keep those unlikely, yet catastrophic, events from happening,” Larry Correia, a firearms instructor, writes. “And that, my lefty friends, is the Second Amendment.”