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.
As he writes:
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
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.