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The Liberal Gun Club

Exploring subculture in America.
(Photo: Adam Fish)

(Photo: Adam Fish)

According to Gallup polls, there are an estimated 16 million liberal people in the United States who own guns. These folks’ left-leaning politics tend to repel some conservative gun-owning peers, and their affinity for firearms can make them pariahs among liberal friends. The Liberal Gun Club is an online forum that is, according to its website, “free from the destructive elements of political extremism that dominate this subject on the national scale.” Estimated membership is currently around 1,000.

  • A lot of our members are refugees from traditional gun groups. I was looking on a gun forum, trying to make sense of the Texas concealed carry laws. The spewing of hatred was more than I could bear; there’s a lot of name-calling when you have different political beliefs. At the Liberal Gun Club, you don’t have to agree, but you do have to be nice. We have members from all over the country. Membership and participation spikes after certain current events; the Newtown shooting freaked everybody out.
  • We mostly talk on the forum, but it’s a meet-up group, too. We’ll go to gun shows or to the shooting range. The Oregon and California people are more politically active. Here in Dallas we’ll go to a diner and shoot the breeze.
  • I grew up in Texas. Kids get guns here when they’re little. I got a BB gun at eight or nine. The issue of guns came up one day at the men’s group at my Unitarian church. One guy who I think grew up in Manhattan laughed and said, “I’m sure no one here is packing.” An older guy said, “Wait a minute—for those of us who grew up here, we own guns.” When the group was asked, the gun owners answered reluctantly, like it was a repentant statement.
  • Because of my work—I’m a therapist—I tend to be around left-leaning people, and it’s the same at my church. A lot of those people don’t share my view that guns can be a recreational hobby. They tend to see them as instruments of death.

Don (full name withheld), 53, as told to Bryan Schatz

This post originally appeared in the March/April 2014 issue of Pacific Standard as “The Liberal Gun Club.” For more, subscribe to our print magazine.