Over the years I have been struck by how many times I have come to like and appreciate many of the most ardent opponents of sensible gun control. Despite our differences of opinion, our goals are the same-a safer and more decent nation. We simply disagree on how to reach those goals.
I remember one occasion when I was being interviewed on television in Chiloquin, Oregon, and a man rose up from the audience to rail at the moderator. He was upset that he had been prohibited from bringing his guns into the studio. When asked why he needed to have them there, the man replied: So I can shoot that lying [expletive] Mike Beard. Naturally, I talked with him after the show and got to speak with him on other occasions during my stay in Oregon. I came to really enjoy this feisty pro-gunner who used inflammatory rhetoric to make his point.
One of my favorite people in the pro-gun movement has always been Neal Knox, former executive vice president of the National Rifle Association. Neal is an unrepentant hard-liner on the gun issue. His website, The Hard Corps, expresses his positions clearly and with great bravado. When asked about Neal by a reporter on one occasion, I truthfully replied, In political matters he is a mean S.O.B., but personally he is the kind of man you would like to have as a grandfather. For several years after that remark I received a nice card from Neal on Father s Day signed simply, Your Grandfather.
I was reminded of these past encounters by a great blog that appears elsewhere on this website this week by Ladd Everitt. Ladd wrote about a day he recently spent with Brian Borgelt, the former owner of Bull s Eye Shooter Supply in Tacoma, Washington. Bull s Eye has been the source of many guns found on crime scenes in America-including the rifle that was used in the famous Beltway murder spree in 2002.
In Ladd s blog, Borgelt comes across as someone with whom you could be friends in spite of his shady business practices. That human element-which is present even between individuals with huge divisions in ideology and philosophy-has been one of the pleasant surprises of my lifelong journey through this movement, and something I still cherish.