Just a few weeks ago, Houston played host to the NRA national convention, attracting gun lovers from across the country.
Until just a few weeks ago, Gavin Cleaver, a British citizen who's lived in Dallas the last couple years, hadn't really ever touched a gun, other than a friend's handgun which he held for a few seconds before giving it right back.
But there he was, AR-15 in hand, trying to understand a convention hall filled th National Rifle Association members and speakers from Oliver North to Glenn Beck to Ted Nugent.
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As he writes:
As you may have read on your most liberal friend's Facebook page, there are basically no guns in the United Kingdom, and basically no gun violence. In 1996, after a school shooting, the U.K. moved to ban or monitor every gun in the country. You can get hunting rifles on a five-year renewable license, but it will require references. There's a central database of gun owners. The whole place is basically one long Glenn Beck nightmare, right down to our strangely logical name for "soccer."
Given this backdrop, I was drawn to Houston by the chance to shed some light on Americans' fondness for guns - more than a third of households have one, although that number is falling - and to talk British to some serious Americans. Plus, as much as guns scare me, I was fairly certain I wouldn't get shot. "Journalist shot by NRA member" would be tough to spin, even for the guys who spin school shootings.
This week read A Gun-Dumb Brit's Journey into American Gun Culture.