What: Boulder author Dan Baum talks about his new book, "Gun Guys: A Road Trip"
When: 7:30 p.m. Monday
Where: Boulder Book Store, 1107 Pearl St., Boulder
Tickets: $5 (good for $5 in-store credit that night)
A t summer camp in New Hampshire, Dan Baum was "the fat kid" whose favorite activity was rifle shooting.
"The one thing I could do better than most other guys was lie on my belly and shoot a .22 caliber rifle," Baum said.
Now, he's an author living in North Boulder hoping to bring forward the stories of real gun owners in America. Baum's new book, "Gun Guys," was published earlier this month, and he'll appear at the Boulder Book Store on Monday at 7:30 p.m.
Baum, a Boulder resident of 10 years, describes himself as a both a "lifelong liberal democrat" and a "lifelong gun guy." With those two seemingly incompatible sides to his personality, Baum set out to on a 15,000-mile road trip to talk to other gun owners and find out why guns are important to them. In the debate over gun control, Baum found it appalling that no one was actually talking to gun owners themselves about their views.
What he found was vast diversity among gun owners' personalities, political views and reasons for owning guns.
He started the trip wearing an NRA hat to show he was one of them but found that "nobody was buying it." So he started carrying his 1956 .38 Colt instead; it made starting conversations easier, and people were more willing to open up to him.
Baum spoke to hunters, target shooters, machine gun owners, victims of gun violence and a slew of other "gun personalities." He learned that America's fondness for guns is complicated; very few gun owners gave him the same answer.
"At their most basic, guns are just cool," Baum said. "They're mechanically beautiful devices. Over and over people would say to me 'Tell me something else I can buy for $400 that my grandchildren will be using.' There's a lot in the attraction about self-reliance and self-esteem."
Baum himself owns several guns, including a 1900 rifle made for the Spanish-American war. He bought his first gun as a student at New York University in 1977, a .22 caliber rifle.
He says his book is not a policy book, or one meant to stir up controversy. It's a first-person narrative that follows his journey across the country. Baum, who says he no less of a democrat or Obama supporter than before he wrote the book, said he does hope the book will "lower the temperature" of the debate over guns.
"It's mostly written for the non-gun people to say, here's who these people are, so read about them, understand them, and if you still want to ban guns after reading this, fine, but at least know what you're dealing with."
--Follow Sarah Kuta on Twitter: @SarahKuta.