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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Guns and the V.I.P. Lounge

Thanks to the Prawfs for inviting me to blog once again. There's lots to talk about this month. For a soft opening, consider the recent New York Times article about the new country club-style shooting ranges, with membership fees in the thousands, rich mahagony, and many leather bound books.  I've always thought of myself as moderate on the gun control-gun rights debate, so shooting ranges per se don't bother me.  Done correctly, they probably make everyone safer.

These V.I.P. ranges, however, concern me because they increase the divide between the rich and the poor, and gun owners and non-gun owners (see also first class vs. coach on airplanes).  This private property rights/capitalism-driven segregation is bad for democracy, and the gun debate in this country could use some good-faith dialog.  It makes me appreciate my little YMCA in Grand Forks, North Dakota, where the men's locker room is a dingy, tight space where liberals, conservatives, and libertarians, and farmers, lawyers, and grocery store clerks all congregate, talk, and bicker about, inter alia, politics and religion.

Posted by Steven R. Morrison on November 30, 2014 at 05:35 PM | Permalink


Thanks. FWIW, my understanding from a Pew study is that rich and poor support gun rights/control in similar numbers, although there is somewhat more support for gun control in the middle-income range. See here: http://www.pewresearch.org/files/old-assets/pdf/gun-control-2011.pdf

Posted by: Orin Kerr | Nov 30, 2014 11:04:09 PM

That's true, but I imagine they'll also draw gun owners who are looking for a higher-end gun range experience. And even if gun owners at all economic levels now are happy with their shabby gun ranges (where they can all interact), these V.I.P. ranges will, like airlines, concert venues, etc., create the demand. So these V.I.P. ranges will exacerbate segregation in two ways: gun owners and non-gun owners (those who would have played tennis at the club for the luxury/prestige experience and then gone to the range will now simply go to the range for one-stop shopping), and rich gun owners (who go V.I.P.) and poor gun owners (who stay at the shabby range).

So you end up with four classes of people: rich non-gun owners, poor non-gun owners, rich gun owners, and poor gun owners. I have to think that each of these classes of people has experiences and opinions that are democratically valuable to the gun debate. Rich people, for example, might be more likely to favor gun rights than poor people, since they live in safe neighborhoods with little gun violence.

Posted by: Steven R. Morrison | Nov 30, 2014 9:56:29 PM

Can you say more about how this increases the divide between rich and poor? It sounds like the VIP ranges are trying to draw members who otherwise would join a high-end golf or tennis club.

Posted by: Orin Kerr | Nov 30, 2014 9:39:24 PM

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