Journalists and Guns

There are so many political affiliations that come up whenever the word “gun” is mentioned.

I’ve been writing a story about the availability of ammunition in Whatcom County, Wash., lately, and it’s damn near impossible to get around the topic of guns, gun owners, the Second Amendment or crime, and still tell the whole story.

It’s a matter of pros and cons. That’s what most gun moderates will say. It’s about balancing personal safety, tradition and sports with the thousands of gun-related deaths each year.

It’s not hard to find moderate people. Most of the people I’ve spoken with are sensible gun owners. Even if their opinions differ, most of the gun owners I’ve talked to shy away from the whole “right-wing” thing anyway.

But it’s interesting talking to them as a journalist. Somewhere, somehow, journalism became synonymous with liberalism. While 8/10 people I’ve spoken to for this story have been willing to talk to me – knowing that I am a journalist – all of them have regarded me with a slight degree of suspicion.

My questions are basically only about ammunition, but it doesn’t stop gun owners from telling me about their guns, the right to own guns and the fear of having them taken away.Ownership and rights aren’t something I’ve really pursued while reporting, but the fact that gun owners are so adamant about these things tells me that they feel misrepresented.

I don’t like being categorized as a liberal, but I’ve found myself just going with it anyway. The people who think I’m a communist walk away, while those who assume I’m a liberal express deep political concerns.

I sort of like it. I get stronger emotions from my interviews when people assume I have an agenda – and I don’t.

That said, most of the people in Whatcom County have been open and trusting with me, and I do appreciate that. As a journalist, I suppose there really is no way around that suspicion. I always want to be liked by people. That’s one reason why I like being a journalist. Blame it on low self-esteem.

But I have to take not being liked. Sometimes I have bite my lip and accept my perception as a deviant or suspect. It’s no fun, but I think having a strong self perception makes for a good reporter.

Anyway, the ammo story turned out really interesting. I will post it when I can.


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