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Is gun ownership a political issue? Not always.

E pluribus unum...

It's no secret that the Second Amendment is under constant attack by certain segments of the political establishment. And it's also pretty widely understood that left-leaning Americans tend to be less enthusiastic than right wingers about protecting our God-given right to self-defense, especially as it applies to our right to keep and bear arms. But there are plenty of "conservative" Americans who would love nothing more than to strip us of those rights, and there are also hardcore leftists who promote their own internal gun culture.

Whether gun ownership is compatible with leftism, or the restriction of our gun rights is compatible with conservatism, could be (and is) hotly debated all the time. But in our sharply divided political climate I think it's worth pointing out that while we may not agree on much else, the two sides can hopefully agree that we all have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Those are, after all, the foundations of our country and its governing documents.

As Americans, we can hopefully all agree that our laws should protect us from both violent predators and tyrannical government, and that we also have the right to protect ourselves as needed. To someone who hates the idea of private gun ownership, that protection might ideally be in the form of martial arts or non-lethal weapons like pepper spray and stun guns. To someone with my political and philosophical views, that protection would look more like this:

Regardless of how we choose to defend ourselves, it's a fundamentally American value that we can. Don't fall into the trap of assuming that just because someone votes Democrat they must be anti-gun, or that because someone votes Republican or Libertarian they must be pro-2A. A surprising number of my students have turned out to lean left, while the stereotypical "Fudd" votes straight ticket GOP. As I watched President Trump's second State of the Union address last night, it occurred to me that several of my Democrat friends have recently begun asking me about guns and self-defense. This is a relatively new (and very welcome) development and serves as a much-needed reminder that my own assumptions about politics and guns are often wrong.

Make no mistake: wanting to feel safer and seeing the need to learn how to be our own first responder transcends political parties and ideological divides. Do I agree with my leftist friends about politics? Not even a little bit. Will I happily and enthusiastically train them to defend themselves? Forever and always. We are all Americans, even if we can't always agree on what that means. And besides, I have my own selfish reasons for inviting Democrat friends to the range: conservative values like liberty, grit, and independence tend to be contagious when someone spends enough time around gun people.

Love each other, love our country, and stay safe out there!