I don't know too much about Joe Heller personally, but I think he's got some country in him.
When I got to college in the fall of 1967, I found myself in the middle. My college friends were against the war, and I agreed with them that it was a foreign relations disaster. We needed to get out.
But I disagreed with their cocksure knowledge of right-and-wrong on the micro level, because, while all their friends were off in college, half my friends were in Vietnam and, no, not as hapless draftees but as enlistees. Volunteers, that is.
True Story: Some 15 years or so after the war ended, I flew into Jacksonville, SC, and got to see a lot of young Marines on their way home from boot camp. And I was stunned to see how few of them had a medal with crossed rifles on their chests.
I honestly thought, growing up where I did and seeing my friends come home from Parris Island, that, as part of your training, they took you down to the rifle range and you eventually came away as either a sharpshooter or a marksman or whatever.
No. It was just that my friends had all grown up with deer rifles in their hands. And they were, by God, probably as at home in the jungle as some of those city boys from Hanoi.
More to the point, when their nation called, they responded, because That Was What You Do.
Contrary to what you might think, my old friends from high school were not offended by my opposition to the war. And, for that matter, I wasn't upset with their participation in the war.
As Abbie Hoffman said, "A brother is someone who loves you so much, he doesn't give a shit what you do."
I wanted to side with my college friends in opposing the war, and I did. But there was a level on which they didn't get it, and, in the end, truth be told, they were not my brothers.
So I was an antiwar activist with friends in the war.
And here I am again.
I think we need to control guns. I not only believe, but can defend, the premise that the Second Amendment was about "well-regulated militias" and not some insane delusional Red Dawn fantasy about how Goober and Cletus were going to save the world with their squirrel guns.
I think it's a pretty rational position.
But when the whole thing comes down to "For" and "Against," I find myself back where I was 40 years ago.
I didn't much like being stuck in the middle then, and I don't much like it now.
Here's what I know:
1. Not every Vietnam vet runs around in camo. They are your neighbors, your friends, your co-workers. If you ask them about their experience, they will tell you something or other. If you don't ask, they'll just do whatever they were doing. But the bottom line is that the stereotypical "Vietnam Vet" is not representative of the group. And yet the group will not renounce him, because they are brothers.
If you don't get it, I can't help you.
2. Not every gun owner is in line with NRA extremist rhetoric. They, too, are your neighbors, your friends, your co-workers. I have many, many friends who are hunters and only some of them are batshit crazy.
But, again, if you force them into a corner, they'll respond in a way that suggests loyalty. Which is not the same thing as agreement.
3. I also have friends who are anti-gun and only some of them are batshit crazy.
4. I think Joe Heller knows some of the people I know.