Are you involved in the gun debate?

Do you feel like a combatant – or an innocent victim – in a culture war?

If you answer yes to either, read this.

Thanks to our friend Tam Keel at her excellent View From the Porch blog for passing it along.


  1. Mas – Clearly you think this article has value in trying to reach “common ground” in the culture war. However, this man’s views have little meaningful value.

    What you see in this article is a leftist who, and I grant him this, is trying to understand the Conservative mindset. However, all his debate about “ethics” just leaves him “lost in the forest”.

    People, like the author of this article, flail around on the Left-Right division because they do not understand its fundamental nature. As I have pointed out before, there is a feature in the human mind that sets how much the individual trusts humanity as a whole. This “Trust Setting” resides deep inside the human subconscious mind and has a strong, but underappreciated influence upon the individual’s political views. It is set by genetics and by childhood experiences and, in adulthood, tends to harden into a concrete political worldview that seldom changes.

    Leftists score toward the extreme high-end of the “Trust Scale”. This gives them great faith in the goodness of mankind. It tends to create a worldview wherein the evils of the world all come from environmental causes and sparks a belief in Big Government and Big Government solution to problems. Leftists innately belief that, by using Big Government to change and modify society, they can create a utopia here on earth. Consider this passage, on the abortion issue, from the above referenced article:

    “I offer another deal to the students, this one less theoretical than any runaway trolley scenario: ‘No more abortions after a fetus can experience pain. In exchange, prenatal care, neonatal care, health care for the mother, child support, parental leave, a humane adoption system, and the whole suite of policy proposals that would begin to offset the discriminatory impact pregnancy has on women—civil rights laws to prevent discrimination on the basis of pregnancy or marital status, wage parity, and compensatory payments for the burden of bearing children.

    ‘Obviously a fiction, but what would you say?’”

    The leftist author thinks that he is offering a sweet deal here. Indeed, to a leftist, it is sweet. He proposes a bunch of Big Government Programs to modify society to help women deal with pregnancy in exchange for relenting a little bit on the abortion issue. He is saying, give me governmental power to build my left-wing utopia, and I will (generously) give you some consideration on the Pro-Life issue. This power, once granted to a leftist, is never relinquished, but note that the promised consideration might easily be taken away again in the future. This is a classic, left-wing power-play strategy that often deceives Conservatives. We have seen the same “piece-meal” strategy chip-away at our 2nd Amendment Rights for decades now. The leftists always want “just one more” gun control law. Nothing given to a leftists is ever enough. They never stop until they have it all.

    Only a fool makes a bargain with a leftist. Lies and deceit are their stock and trade. Even if they enter the bargain in good faith, today, some other leftist will betray the deal tomorrow.

    No, the author of this article is a fool. He does not understand the deep psychological basis for the divide between the right-wing and left-wing worldviews. Once a society becomes sharply polarized upon a left/right division, as America is today, it generally takes a civil war to restore a central balance. I keep hoping that the American People will wake up and deal the leftists such an electoral defeat that the culture war can be won via a democratic process. However, I greatly fear that the polarization extends to the American People themselves. Therefore, I am not optimistic regarding a peaceful resolution.

    I see a troubled future in store for America. Almost nobody understands the psychological reasons for the left/right divide. Without understanding, even people who make a good faith effort to understand the other side, as this author does, simply end up “thrashing in the weeds”. They never reach a true understanding of the problem because they are locked inside the prison of their own narrow worldview.

      • I agree with much of what you say, TN-Man, but your comment seems to imply that leftists lie and engage in deceit while people opposing them do not. People on the right side of the political spectrum are equally guilty.

      • Gary – I do not agree with your use of the word “equally”.

        It is true that all humans can use lies and deceit to push a political agenda. Examples can be found everywhere.

        However, leftists have an inherent tendency to believe that they can use Big Government to build an utopia here on earth. This “Utopian Vision” is much less common on the Conservative or Right-Wing sides of the political divide.

        This utopian vision gives leftists a special incentive to use lies and deceit to push their political agenda. After all, in their minds, their goal is noble. It is nothing less then to build the “Left-Wing Utopia” here on earth. A utopia that, if it could ever be achieved, would benefit everybody.

        Therefore, leftists are much, much, much more prone to believe that “the ends justify the means”. I believe that, because of this aspect of their worldview, leftists can much more easily override norms against lying. Attorney General Barr hit this precise point in a recent speech. The following is a selected quote:

        “The fact of the matter is that, in waging a scorched earth, no-holds-barred war of ‘Resistance’ against this Administration, it is the left that is engaged in the systematic shredding of norms and the undermining of the rule of law. This highlights a basic disadvantage that conservatives have always had in contesting the political issues of the day. It was adverted to by the old, curmudgeonly Federalist, Fisher Ames, in an essay during the early years of the Republic.

        In any age, the so-called progressives treat politics as their religion. Their holy mission is to use the coercive power of the state to remake man and society in their own image, according to an abstract ideal of perfection. Whatever means they use are therefore justified because, by definition, they are a virtuous people pursing a deific end. They are willing to use any means necessary to gain momentary advantage in achieving their end, regardless of collateral consequences and the systemic implications. They never ask whether the actions they take could be justified as a general rule of conduct, equally applicable to all sides.”

        So, I STRONGLY DISPUTE your claim that all sides are “equally guilty”. The use of lies and deceit to gain political advantage is far, far, far more common on the Left. Do not try to minimize their guilt by claiming, in effect, that “everybody does it”. Maybe all sides do lie some but the Left will tell at least a dozen lies for every one told by Conservatives.

      • Bravo from me, also. Especially for the comment that you can’t fashion a compromise with leftists because they never keep their commitments.

    • Extreme leftists seem like overgrown adolescents to me. In the teenage years people tend to reach an actually narcissistic stage of understanding that “everything is relative” (to them). Arch leftists don’t seem to grow out of this stage. They go through adult life carrying an adolescent attitude like you might find in “Lord of the Flies,” where a satisfactory end justifies the most unethical means. They continually perpetrate untold destruction of individuality, beginning with the very right to life. They signal wannabe “peaceful” Utopian agendas, which always seem to culminate in some form of regrettable, parasitic tyranny.

    • A very old trick that most politicians have always employed against their subjects is “divide and conquer.” The usual reason behind the scheme is to distract people from the politicos’ awful conduct and antidemocratic chicanery–which generally favors the well-heeled and powerful–and pit citizens against each other often over trivial social matters.

      That’s where many Americans are today–screaming at each other and failing to pay attention to their leaders’ misconduct, favoritism, and occasional treason. Americans should remember that they mostly share the same values and concerns about their nation’s democracy and future, and they should demand much better representation and fair play from their politicians.

  2. As a retired police officer, I feel like a combatant AND an innocent victim. I would not nor will I help enforce a law that is clearly unconstitutional. “Shall not infringe” has far reaching meaning.

    And, with attitudes running hot and cold among currently active police officers, I’m rather concerned that active officers may come to my door wanting to take my Federally permitted gun(s). Young officers who don’t have a full enough understanding of our Constitution may come to ask for my weapons. Their requests will be refused.

    If they are attemting to disarm officers they will invariably fail to do so, and may place themselves INTO jeopardy without realizing that retirees will not be willing to surrender their primary means of self defense. I’m torn as I do not want harm to come to any officer, but even more importantly, I don’t want to see harm or loss of protection to befall me.

    I’ve been true to my oath of office, which I was never relieved of and never disavowed myself of. I still practice and shoot well, competently enough to be proficient and pass (& excel) on my qualification scores. (It’s pass/fail, but I’ve scored above 95% inside the immediate disable the threat target area.)

    How retired officers are treated by Congress, who as a group IGNORED the 2018 & 2019 efforts to update LEOSA to clarify and precisely allow qualified police officers to respond at schools is, well atrocious.

    We individually and collectively are so much more qualified to respond to an active shooter on school grounds than any teacher who may have recently been taught to use a gun properly. I’m glad they are there, but they have no experience (with the exception of teachers who served as members of the US military) and may freeze the first time they have to aim a gun at a human form.

    It’s common enough on Police Academy ranges for trainee officers to freeze when first pointing a gun AT A TARGET.

    My Basic class lost 6% of our number to those unable to pull the trigger when pointing at paper targets with human forms printed on them. How many will choke and freeze when pointing at a school shooter? It surely will be at least 6% or MORE. I don’t want my grandchildren guarded by unproven teachers with no real experience. And Congress has yet again FAILED to allow changes to LEOSA that when emplemented will allow QUALIFIED police officers to respond. We’ve served and earned the respect of our communities. It seems Congress ignores this, or prefers to DELIBERATELY stall legislation which in less contentious political climates would certainly have been passed and signed into law.

    I’ve given up on California & New Jersey. California has increased their prohibitive gun laws – and refuses to see qualified retired officers as police officers, so much so that when carrying a weapon identical to ones IN USE WITHIN 49 other states, I would technically be a FELON within California. New Jersey’s Attorney General has stated, “Out of State officers MAY NOT CARRY controlled expansion rounds.” Full metal jacketed rounds are unacceptable (most are marked “Not for police use!” on the package.). Using FMJ for police officers as you know, will INCREASE downrange liability – something we are trained to avoid. So I’ve given up on New Jersey as well. 48 states? No, there are several more “unrepenant” states that won’t accept the number of rounds my weapon holds – even when their active officers carry weapons that hold MORE ROUNDS than my weapon does.

    Failure of other states to fully embrace LEOSA makes travel a literal minefield for retirees and active but off duty police officers. Congress has failed not just police officers, but the public we are still sworn to protect. I’d really be gratified if the Congress stopped playing politics and started working as statesmen!

    • @ John T. – with respect to the restrictions in New Jersey concerning “controlled expansion rounds”, I am wondering where they draw the line on this type of ammo?

      I found this web page which provides some information:

      This seems to limit the restriction to “hollow nose ammunition”. Is it strictly limited to open hollow points?

      What about a Jacketed Soft Point in a high velocity (EX: 357 Mag.) handgun?

      Would a round like the Hornady FTX, which fills the hollow nose with a polymer plug, be legal?

      Would Federal’s Guard Dog ammo, which uses a FMJ bullet that squishes for expansion, be legal?

      What about Black Hill’s Honey Badger ammo? It does not expand at all but uses flutes to distribute bullet energy radially to increase shock and to limit penetration.

      Like all these foolish gun and ammo bans, it seems to me that there are already technological solutions available to “work around” this ban. The only issue is to know where the line is legally drawn to then know how to defeat them.

      • Jacketed soft point is not hollow point. The NJ AG’s office has reportedly determined that Guard Dog and Hornady Critical Duty/Critical Defense type ammo is not hollow point. I would EXPECT the same with the Lehigh type bullet in the Honey Badger but don’t know if NJ AG has weighed in on that or not.

    • In 2019 wife and I relocated from a small rural NoCal town to NC. A great move, BTW. In CA we were FFLs, legit gun dealers, and CCWs. It was common knowledge the 10-round mag limit was the lowest LEO priority, below spitting on the sidewalk. Those laws just didn’t set the area CHP Commander or Sheriff on fire. Yes, the law was there but I never heard tell of a LEO trying to jam an 11th round into a magazine.
      A 10 and 15 round magazine look very similar, of course a 30 round banana clip would be a hard”I didn’t know” sell. And the prospective offender had to pass the attitude-check. Popping-off about a LEO’s parentage would likely incur a more thorough examination. Of everything.
      I heard things were different in the big cities. Remember 90% of the people in CA live within 30 miles of the coast. The rest of us in the mountains and deserts took a sort of pride in being different than them.
      I would imagine a legit retired or travelling LEO would have no trouble carrying in the Golden State. But now the obvious, of course, I can’t guarantee it.

  3. Just want to point out that we get to sit around and talk, talk, talk, like that professor, because we only have small problems, not big ones. We all have access to clean water, modern medicine and too much yummy food. We have not seen a repeat of the 1918 Spanish Flu, yet. I doubt people in Venezuela, Syria or North Korea discuss the same issues we do. They have to worry about living through another day. Some of the people in Puerto Rico went seven months without electricity because of Hurricane Maria, and the power company wasn’t very good even before it got wiped out. Imagine the 48 contiguous states going one month without electricity.

    It’s great to be rich, I hope our country can remain that way. Our wealth is the only thing keeping us together, I think.

    The Founding Fathers knew the answer, which is federalism, which is basically being ruled a lot by local government, and only ruled a little by a far off, federal government. Our federal government makes one-size-fits-all rules for a diverse population of 330 million individuals. The original thirteen states had more say in their rules than what we have today. They could make rules which fit their populations. If someone didn’t like the rules in one state they could move to the other. We are trying to force uniform rules on a diverse population. It’s not working very well, but our access to wealth and opportunity keeps us from fighting about our differences, for now.

    The professor wants us to listen to each other? As a Christian, my beliefs are very similar to a jihadist’s beliefs. How is trying to compromise with him going to keep my head on my shoulders? You can’t find middle ground when there is no such thing. It’s winner take all, there is no sharing.

    As a Jew, the professor should think about what it would be like for a Jew to try to understand a Nazi SS man in the period 1933–1945. How is talking to him going help the Jew? The Nazi wants to dominate the Jew, and kill him, and that’s what will happen unless the Jew can run away or fight the Nazi. The Jew cannot afford to be civil to the Nazi.

    We Americans can have these nice conversations because most of us are decent, non-violent people. Dennis Prager said, “America is only a bad country compared to utopia.”

  4. I have to finish the article later but I am very familiar with Appalachian State. The students I’ve worked with from their college of science are on par with any I worked with while at the University of Georgia. I would expect a higher than average libertarian population.

  5. I attended Appalachian State as an ROTC student in the early 70’s during Vietnam era. It’s always been predominantly liberal in a bastion county of conservatives. The Boone city fathers enabled students (liberals) to vote as residents. The town of Boone became a mess as do most liberal led states and municipalities. Having completed 20 years in the military, served in varied overseas assignments, and worked chasing narco-terrorists thereafter in socialist South American countries, I’m an eyewitness to their dangers and realized the first thing these countries do is rid the populace of guns. Our own American socialists (predominantly Democrats, so own it) chip away at our rights through time. We have to chip back or all will be lost.

    • History tells me it’s better to be armed than not armed. Government forces and marauders slaughter millions. I include the U.S. armed forces among the thugs. History rells me also that every empire circles around and devours the home state. Soon it will be our turn. The internationalists will not tolerate a rural armed population. That’s why I don’t believe tbat these mass shootings are anything but fiction.

      The dude with the gun, in uniform or out: who signs his paycheck? That’s what I want to know.

  6. I didn’t find anything surprising about the distribution of opinions in his class. What did surprise, and please me, is his recognition that the population contains libertarians in addition to left-wingers (mislabeled liberals) and right-wingers (mislabeled conservatives). Left and right disagree on many subjects (e.g. abortion, gun control) but share the belief that they have the moral right use the power of government to impose their agenda on the general public. Libertarians reject that.

  7. Interesting article. That said, it’s unfortunate that the other side-or at least the prominent sponsors of the other side-not only won’t read it, but probably wouldn’t follow it if they did. It would require them to both think and consider those who hold opposing opinions as intelligent. I realize those comments seem to be in opposition to the thesis the professor is espousing, but that’s reality.

    The prof does seem to be cultivating critical thinking, which is a good thing. It was rather interesting that the class seemed to believe that the citizens need the means to resist/overthrow the government if necessary.

  8. Mental masturbation, to be honest.

    Like so many professors, they treat the opinions of unexperienced and as-yet-uneducated youths as somehow deeply meditative. It’s not.

    A lot of one-offs which are spun as been so wonderfully introspective rebel against the real world condition of solving for the 85% and taking the 15% outliers on an as-come basis.

    The article certainly frames itself as being all wonderfully inclusive, but it’s just another liberal justifying their first love of scrambling the minds of the young.

  9. I was personally taken with Mr. Mandery’s description of where he was. Boone, NC, is a nice, liberal, university town. Other nice, liberal, university towns in North Carolina include Asheville and Chapel Hill. All liberal hotbeds. To find it surprising or even of interest that a college town is a “little blue island in a sea of red” in NC, or anywhere, is about as shocking as finding a liberal New York professor there too.
    Liberalsism and conservatism are both “opinions,” and everyone has a right to their own. At least in most of America, discounting those “little blue islands in a sea of red” where everyone has a right to the majority opinion which is why we have a Constitution that protects against the perceived majority legislatively impressing its will upon those who disagree.

  10. Just a few comments to go with the others:

    The “left and right” labels come from the seating arrangement of post-revolutionary French parliament. Why we continue to use those labels today is beyond me. It really comes down to people who think we will have a utopia if enough control is given to “really smart” leaders, and people who value freedom to pursue virtue in their own way.

    The other point is something that Jordan Petersen said, namely that much of the divide in the country is made by the news media. The old media is going the way of the dodo, and to “stay relevant” and get clicks and views from people who now have a near infinity of other choices, it has to stir the pot with continual outrage. If we actually had lasting peace, prosperity, and happiness in this country, the media, as it is, would go out of business–think about that.

    Regarding the book Hillbilly Eulogy (mentioned in the essay), I read quite a bit of it while waiting in a Barnes and Noble a while back. I did not grow up where the author did, but I did grow up in a socio-economic analogue to it. I would be hesitant to read too much into that book–it was one person’s experience, and not reality at large as to what is going on in “fly over” country. The elites are so intrigued as to why we do not like them, they latched onto that book to explain why. Instead of us not liking them because they have made every wrong decision possible over the past thirty years and sold us down the river over and over again, the book could be read as saying that we are just a bunch of hot headed hicks.

    • @ Jacob Morgan – “The elites are so intrigued as to why we do not like them, they latched onto that book to explain why.”

      You put your finger on a point that is critical to explain the inherent conflict between the Left-Wing and Right-wing worldviews (Sorry about the labels but Left/Right has become standard).

      As noted in my first comment above, an individual’s “Trust Setting” is instrumental in creating their political worldview. A person with a high trust setting is naturally drawn to a left-wing worldview. A person with a low setting is drawn toward a right-wing worldview. The individual really cannot help themselves from being so drawn. As Jessica Rabbit said “I’m Not Bad, I’m Just Drawn That Way”. 🙂

      It is said that you never really understand a man until you “walk a mile in his shoes”. It is almost impossible for a leftist to walk in the shoes of a right-wing individual or visa-versa. Their own trust setting, which is operating at a subconscious level, prevents it. To a true leftist, the left-wing program of using Big Government to build society into a utopia seems so true, correct and clear that they simply cannot understand opposition to it. Naturally, they attribute opposition to stupidity, ignorance or to some kind of negative social force (racism, ultra-nationalism, etc.). Anything that tends to confirm this inherent stereotype, like the book you mentioned, is seized upon and accepted automatically. It is confirmation bias of their pre-existing worldview.

      It also helps explain why the Left is unable to see the failures of their own policies in recent decades. The “rightness” of the Left-Wing worldview is so great, in their minds, that they cannot acknowledge any failures. They cannot learn from their mistakes. Their worldview promotes an arrogant view that they cannot make mistakes. Only their political opponents can be wrong.

      The same thing happens on the right. For example, supporters of 2nd Amendment Rights often consider that the Gun Prohibitionists are fools. That they are driven by some kind of irrational fear of firearms (Hoplophobia) and that they may even be mentally defective. This is yet another stereotype. If we were truly able to “walk in the shoes of a leftist”, we would see that, from their point-of-view, firearms prohibition seems like a perfect solution to the “problem of gun violence” (as they call it). From their point-of-view, they are perfectly rational. We “Gun Nuts” are the craze people in their book!

      Because the subconscious (and hidden) issue of a person’s trust setting is not generally understood, individuals occupying opposing positions on the Left/Right political scale are really incapable of understanding the other side. This inability to comprehend and understand the “others” is a prime factor in leading to violent conflict between Left-wing and right-wing political factions.

      If America does slip into a second Civil War, it will be this inability to understand (to walk a mile in the shoes) of our fellow Americans that causes it.

    • Jacob Morgan,

      As to the labels “left” and “right,” maybe it would be better to say, “big government people versus small government people.”

      I can’t stand “red” and “blue” states. The labels are backwards, and we conservatives just sat down and allowed the Marxists to define us as “red.” If I’m not mistaken, it was the white Russians who fought the red Russians, the communists, in 1917. Red China is communist. The Khmer Rouge were communists. “Rouge” is the French word for “red.” Red is associated with communism, and yet it is America’s blue states which lean toward Marx, the father of communism.

      I would even venture to guess that some low information voters vote for the Democrat party because they relate the word “democracy” to good things. So, confusing their voters always helps the big government people, the domestic enemies of the Constitution.

      Just my four cents, (because of inflation.)

      • @ Roger Willco – “I can’t stand “red” and “blue” states. The labels are backwards, and we conservatives just sat down and allowed the Marxists to define us as ‘red.’ ”

        Left-Wing propaganda is all built upon “Projection”. Every crime that they accuse Conservatives of committing (racism, sexism, corruption, etc.) is a crime that they have flagrantly committed themselves.

        Take this impeachment of President Trump, for example. What is the so-called “Impeachable Offense”? They say that he used his official power to pressure Ukraine into doing him a political favor. As anyone who has actually read the telephone call transcript knows, the evidence for this is imaginary. Yet, we have Vice-President Biden, on video, BRAGGING about doing this very thing when he got a Ukrainian Prosecutor fired.

        Vice-President Biden actually did the crime that the Leftists are projecting upon President Trump!

        As you note, they have even projected the color RED upon us while falsely claiming the color BLUE for themselves. Again, lies and deception are the Left’s stock and trade. If, like Pinocchio, the noses of the leftists grew longer every time they told a lie, all of the commentators on CNN, MS-NBC, The NY Times, the Washington Post, etc., would have noses that stretched to the moon by now.

      • TN_MAN,

        You are correct. Our government puts our warriors in Leavenworth Prison for creatively killing terrorists. Trump should have freed those men three years ago.

        Republicans get investigated, sometimes losing their jobs. Comey lies saying no prosecutor would go after Hillary for her crimes. Maybe Comey is right. No prosecutor would go after Hillary, because he doesn’t want to end up like Vince Foster or the other dead bodies associated with the Clintons. I could go into detail about Obama’s crimes, and George Soros, who is the enemy of the whole world. But I would rather be brief.

        The republicans don’t stand up for themselves, nor will they help the President. He could be enjoying a plush retirement, but instead he fights for the American people. Thank God for Donald Trump. He saved us from President Hillary Clinton.

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