You go in a shopping mall, there's a guy with a gun. Obviously, what we're hoping is that there will be a gunfight, that there will be two people shooting, in the event that something bad happens. But we can't put armed guards and policemen everywhere. So to me, armed citizens make sense. But it really looks like my fellow liberals have an aversion to the thought of the individual citizen being of service with a gun in a situation like that.
When you carried your gun into a Whole Foods in Boulder, Colorado, no one reacted. But when you went into a Mexican grocery, everyone was on guard. Why do you think that was?
I honestly think the people in Whole Foods -- their eyes saw it and their brain didn't. They may have thought I was some kind of cop, even though I really don't look like it. But in the Mexican store, they didn't know what to expect. In Mexico, no one gets to carry a gun. Which is kind of crazy, given what's going on down there. That's a good example -- you've got innocents being slaughtered down there, but they can't defend themselves. It's always the people who live in nice neighborhoods who want gun control.
In a gun store in Denver, a shopper warns you that purchasing a new gun is "like heroin; the first taste is cheap." What do you think of this analogy?
He was talking particularly about the AR-15. You can accessorize it endlessly. You can always be taking this part off and getting a new part. It's like bike guys who always have to have the new spokes, a certain kind of gear head. This is why the AR-15 is profitable - because there's this endless universe of parts.
But are guns addictive? We gun guys tell each other all the time -- we take a newbie shooting and they love it. They want to go again. I have rarely taken somebody shooting who didn't enjoy it. Gun guys are always urging each other to take somebody shooting. That's how you win them over.
Do you think there's any danger in that fascination?
I don't. We're talking about really dangerous things, and you have to teach people the rules. But if you follow them, you'll be safe. If I take somebody shooting, I stand behind them. I have my hand up at about their shoulder, so if they start to turn, which they often do, you can catch their arm. It's serious business.
I want to go back to the gun law history. In 1987, Florida responded to a wave of crime by loosening restrictions. Were you surprised by what happened as a result?
At the time, I thought, "Oh, this is going to be a bloodbath." And it wasn't. The late '80s were a very violent time in the U.S. The crack cocaine thing was in full flower. Then Florida did this, and most liberals thought it was crazy. But crime dropped. A lot. Crime there is now half of what it was before then.
There are people who argue that it's cause and effect. Good guys carry guns, and crime drops because the bad guys are afraid to commit crimes. I think there are all kinds of reasons why crime dropped. But clearly, it didn't go up. Clearly, what we thought was going to happen -- that every fender-bender was going to be a gunfight -- did not happen. Now that I've carried a gun, I know why. It was a huge turning point in gun control history because it was the first time the gun rights movement went on offense.