Writing in the Wall Street Journal this morning, Frank Miniter shows that he understands that the soul of America is the gun culture. He castigates lockstep liberal Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley for his signing into law legislation which is a blatant violation of the Second Amendment, and then explains, as nicely as possible, why men (and women) who are afraid of the gun culture aren’t real Americans:
Nevertheless, Gov. O’Malley signed the legislation. When he did, he made a more fundamental mistake, a mistake he and other anti-gun-freedom politicians likely don’t understand, but that will harm them at the polls—it was this same misunderstanding of America that caused Al Gore to lose his home state in his quest to be president, which thereby cost him the presidency.
To understand this mistake, consider the Beretta man. He has a shotgun that’s a work of art. It might be an over/under with a grainy walnut stock, blued metal and engravings of a bird dog and maybe a pheasant on its receiver. Or it might be a semi-automatic Benelli (a Beretta-owned company) with a carbon-fiber stock and inertia-driven action. In either case, the Beretta man stands with his back straight and the shotgun in the crook of his arm. He is wearing a shooting vest and shooting glasses. He has class. He is how James Bond would look if he went skeet shooting. He’s sophisticated, but hardly a snob. He has what the Spanish call duende, a characteristic James Michener said is almost indefinable, as it means something with taste, refinement, beauty, perfection and elegance all in just the right proportion and with no showiness at all. He is what the Japanese mean when they use the word shibui, which is something a Samurai tried to embody, but only could manage in fleeting moments when life and art meet before again separating with a bad gesture or misstep.
Of course, he isn’t any more real than James Bond. But what archetype is? He’s an American icon men want to be. He’s an ideal never reached but, if you do everything right, might be you for just a manly moment when you shoot a perfect round and thereby master yourself. In that moment a Spaniard might proclaim, “Gracia.” This is another word that deals not with things but with the essence of things and so is fleeting in an empirical age that trusts science to answer everything for us while disdaining the effervescent quality of philosophy. Though now misunderstood by op-ed writers at The New York Times, even the fashion set is aware of the Beretta man. Beretta, after all, has stores in Milan, Paris, London and New York. Oh, there’s one in Dallas, too.
Of course, there is also a Beretta woman. Her lines of clothing are just as iconic. Though she doesn’t follow the modern protocol for what a woman should look like to be sexy, Beretta’s attire on a lady with an over/under shotgun can make the Beretta man forget himself more than any Kardashian ever could.
Beretta was founded in 1526, a year before Machiavelli died. Beretta is still family owned. Beretta saw Michelangelo, Casanova and Mussolini go. They actually have a castle, the Beretta Castle. They set a standard and hold onto it.
During a tour of its Maryland plant last winter Matteo Recanatini, web & social media manager for Beretta in the U.S., said to me, “The Beretta family approves every clothing design, every tweak to every firearm. They’re conscious that the Beretta image is iconic, an ideal. Everything has to perfectly fit that image and to function flawlessly.”
Matteo, an Italian, was acknowledging there is a different way of looking at guns and American gun culture than some blue-state politicians suggest. This image is what President Barack Obama tried to represent when the White House leaked a photo of him “shooting skeet” with a shotgun held too horizontal for skeet shooting and with a choke missing from the bottom barrel (it takes two for skeet)—clear signs the shot was a stunt. Instead of being the Beretta man, Obama became a laughable parody of something he doesn’t understand, but at least on some level he knows such an archetype exists.
What he doesn’t seem to grasp is that, to people who want to be a Beretta man, or a Winchester man, or a Colt man … guns aren’t a negative thing; they’re a manly a thing a real man knows how to use safely and well. And therein lies the political miscalculation of anti-gun-freedom politicians.
Miniter only has so many words/column inches he can fill, but if he had more, I’m sure he’d continue on to note that while statists in both parties have refined appealing to the lowest common denominator voter to an art, they’ve largely forgotten what happens to a culture that panders to the slow, stupid, and lazy at the expense of the clever, intelligent, and industrious.
Fortunately, there is a chance that after this culture of dependency implodes, that those who created it and pandered to it will be swept aside as we rise from the ashes.
We must anticipate that downfall, and be ready with a new generation of leaders that understand duende on a gut level. This nation was founded by a generation of men who were born with some of these rough qualities, who honed it to a razor’s edge by studying the philosophies of great and wise men, and who distilled it into ideals now committed to parchment as this nation’s birth certificate and guiding principles.
I know the gun culture. They are doctors and lawyers, CPAs and IT professionals, small business owners and sales executives. They are telecommunications wizards, mechanical geniuses, gifted machinists and inventors, farmers and pharmacists, soldiers and sheriffs.
They are all lifelong students and investors in humanity.
Politicians, your insistence on attempting to belittle and destroy this great culture—in every way your betters—may or may not be your downfall, but it will be what replaces you once your plots and schemes ultimately collapse.