At its heart, America’s gun war has always been a culture war, which could explain its tendency to ebb and flow in a practical sense but ultimately stagnate in terms of any real reconciliation between camps. Substituting personal values for political issues, it is perhaps impossible for any one individual to fully comprehend the complex symbol guns represent in America nor the corresponding cultures that seek to ban or embrace them. And accordingly, as the necessary means to a quarrel, the gun question has become a staple for political pundits.
Bill Maher hosts Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO and he is quite visibly in his element when talking guns. With the timing of a seasoned stand-up and a razor-sharp wit, he and an Algonquin roundtable of “somebodys” anatomize big issue stuff from Bob Barker’s old Studio 33.
Such was the scene last Friday when Bill hosted guests Rachel Maddow, economist Stephen Moore and former White House budget director David Stockman. On the table—gun control—with familiar dynamics playing out as each of the panelists cashed in their two-cents on the topic. But what began as an articulate and at times perceptive discussion on America’s tangled gun policy took a strange twist when it jarringly and inexplicably devolved into Bill and friends snickering at a couple of strangers’ Facebook photos.
After a four-minute parlay (which you can see in full here) that touched on the assault weapon ban, the connection between gun violence and drugs and included a rickety set-up about High Times centerfolds, Maher announced that he recently had become aware that Glock operated a fan page on Facebook. Showing four pictures uploaded by Glock Facebook fans, he proceeded to riff on these seemingly random people with the comedic insight of a crotch shot.
The segment concluded with some pictures of Maher as a young boy dressed in full “Cowboys n’ Indians” regalia and several with him “holding” superimposed images of handguns.
If “disagreement” is at the core of modern civilization, America was formed in many ways as a solution to disagreement—a society built to civilly accommodate (even thrive upon) dissent and predicated upon the dialogue and logical reasoning of Humanism. To make a good point about gun violence in this country and subsequently call for gun control is in this spirit and the sentiment should be applauded. To unfoundedly ridicule strangers because of the way they look or pigeonhole unwitting citizens just for the sake of calling them out is not and should not.
Accordingly, Guns.com wanted to hear what those Glock fans featured on Real Time thought about their debut on national television, so we contacted all four of them and several were happy to speak with us.
Mike was the young man wearing the Coke shirt. He knew of his photo’s inclusion in the Real Time sketch but had not seen the video. He said that it was “hard to watch” but his response lacked even a hint of bitterness:
“I think Bill is right when he says that some people own guns because they love them, but I also believe that gun ownership is the one human right I have that can ensure that other human rights will not be violated. I own guns to protect myself and my son, and I am well-versed in their use. I do love my Glock, it is a great working gun, and I depend on it for my safety. The least I could do is show it a little appreciation for it on a Glock Facebook Fan page.”
“In over 40 states it’s legal to carry a concealed weapon, and in those states there is no more, or less crime then those that require a weapons permit,“ Mike wrote to us. “The problem with people like Bill Maher and other anti-gun enthusiasts is that they have no idea what it’s like to be a victim of violent crime. I would love to ask Bill Maher if someone broke into his house with a gun, would he rather have a gun or a phone in his hand? Sure the cops will get there eventually… but would it be in time to protect himself or his family?”
Ed was the gentleman wearing the Glock shirt, which was mentioned during the segment. A Jersey native, marine veteran and a Democrat, Ed told us the story behind his shirt:
“I am a gun enthusiast with a sense of humor, which I tried to express with my t-shirt. I had my wife design that for me. I live in a state with liberal gun laws and there are a lot of gun owners here. I usually get a few laughs when I wear that shirt,” Ed told Guns.com.
He also expressed concern that his appearance on Real Time reflected poorly on the gun owning community, stating, “I regret that my humorous intent was misconstrued, and any negative reflection on my fellow firearms enthusiasts. I believe in the Second Amendment and the Right to Bear Arms… and that makes me happy.“
Ed did criticize the fact that Real Time made the decision (for obvious reasons) not to preserve his anonymity, saying, “I do regret that he didn’t have the courtesy to blur or otherwise not show my face.”
Because the photos were uploaded to Facebook, they are part of the public domain and could be used without permission.
The young lady could not be reached for comment but we did hear from a source that she was “upset” by the sketch. We also tracked down the cat’s owner. He’s from Turkey and he didn’t know who Bill Maher was.
To try to put some perspective on this whole event, the word empathy comes first to mind because it is often the lack of it that leads to this pigeonholing. And, second, if you found yourself eyeing Ed’s shirt, you can get your very own “Happiness is a Big Glock” Tee-shirt here.