How liberals learned to stop worrying and love gun culture

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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Over at BuzzFeed, McKay Coppins has an interesting column up, titled, “How Gun Culture Won Over Liberals.”

As Coppins notes, “Hunting and recreational shooting, once viewed by the left as backwater pastimes, have won over a liberal coalition of eco-conscious locavores, hipster hunters, and adventure-seeking New York media elites.”

Everything becomes cool eventually, so I suppose it’s plausible that — just as drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon went from being my grandfather’s favorite pastime, to being trendy —  shooting guns might also have a similar appeal to hipsters. (Deep down, every liberal writer I know secretly wants to be Hunter S. Thompson, anyway.)

And who knows? Maybe it is healthy for liberal elites to occasionally expose themselves to rural culture — even if only for “ironic” purposes.

But while this may be an interesting sociological phenomenon, the implicit notion that this limited exposure to guns might have led these dilettantes to actually embrace “gun culture” (and, presumably, the 2nd amendment) is probably a bridge too far.

In fact, the liberal “embrace of gun culture,” to the degree that it has happened in the last decade, had little to do with exposure to guns.

As liberal blogger Bill Scher explained during a recent conversation with me on Bloggingheads.TV:

The reason Democrats have been very restrained on gun control for the last 10 years is they have been following the thesis of Tom Schaller’s book, “Whistling Past Dixie,” where he said, ‘Look, Democrats, forget the South. You’re not going to win the South for a generation or more. It’s God, guns, and gays down there, and you lose on all three, so forget it.’


‘However, the interior West is an area that has more potential for Democrats, and it’s just guns there. The God and the gays part is not as much of a problem … they have more of a libertarian streak there. So if Democrats just put guns to the side, you’ll be competitive.’


And they’ve followed that advice, and it has worked.

Liberal opinion leaders and politicians embraced guns as a cynical political calculation — not because they discovered the joys of shooting or suddenly learned to value the 2nd amendment.

Is it any wonder so many have jumped on the gun control bandwagon so fast?

Matt K. Lewis