An Open Letter to CityBeat on Gun Show article

Guest ColumnGuest Column 26 Comments


From Michael Schwartz

To San Diego CityBeat’s Ryan Bradford,

I read your recent article on the Crossroads of the West gun show, held in Del Mar on December 14.

The way your half-drunken friends treat pistols makes them representative of gun owners as much as their alcohol abuse makes them sommeliers or enologists. I do commend them for unloading the pistol’s magazine before letting you handle it, which is far more like the safety precautions I am used to seeing from gun owners. (Note: a “clip” loads a magazine. A “magazine” holds ammunition. Your friend unloaded the pistol’s magazine.)

I do appreciate your attempt to understand gun owners by attending the gun show, but it left me asking two questions. What does a horrific crime like Connecticut’s Sandy Hook have to do with a Del Mar gun show, and why didn’t you actually attempt to understand gun owners while attending?

Sandy Hook was a crime committed by a mentally disturbed adult who stole a firearm by killing his own mother. He wasn’t a gun owner. He didn’t pass a background check. He didn’t use a licensed dealer to buy a gun like every attendee of a California gun show is required to do. Shooting wasn’t a hobby or sport of his and he certainly wasn’t trained. The Sandy Hook shooter’s hobby was playing violent video games that were probably much like the violent movies you talked about making while you were in high school. Did you write a similar article to this after you went to Comic-Con?

The very troubled Adam Lanza, the crime he committed, the inability to stop Lanza once he started shooting children, and his suicide have nothing to do with the law abiding firearms hobbyists you saw attending the gun show in Del Mar. Do you also attend Octoberfest and criticize attendees as being completely heartless for not doing more to memorialize the hundreds of thousands of victims of drunk driving?

I agree, Sandy Hook was as horrible a crime as we could imagine. I commend you for remembering it and, as a writer, attempting to understand it. But, you criticized an entire group of people for being ugly and suggested that they play “kill/kill/kill” due to their looks — how does that honor the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy and its victims, or help to understand the mentally disturbed man who committed it?

The answer is, it doesn’t.

As thousands of San Diegans woke up the morning of December 14 with the intention of having fun and maybe getting a good deal at a gun show, you actually had the Sandy Hook tragedy in mind, but could only come up with snarky Tweets of shallow insults and overpriced beer.

I was at that show in December manning a booth. I met and had conversations with a number of people, including:

  • Double amputee Marines
  • A widow who had questions about how to properly sell her late husband’s firearms
  • A group of transgender ladies who organized their own shooting club
  • A woman who owns her own business and started carrying a gun after she was attacked
  • A physician and his wife who graduated from Tulane and own guns because they witnessed first-hand what happened after Hurricane Katrina
  • A teen from Ramona who hunts with his dad every year
  • A man who escaped from Vietnam in 1975 and uses a gun to protect his family’s shop

When I read your article that condemned and criticized an entire group and culture because of their looks, I wondered how many of the people I met were those you considered from afar too physically unattractive to be in public.

I won’t argue your hard-hitting, journalistic point about their lack of comeliness, because their looks didn’t really occur to me as I was busy talking to them in an attempt to judge them each by the content of their character. Considering how many times your article talks about the male anatomy, how many times you used the “F” word, your first impression of seeing people touch a gun, and how upset you were that you were unable to locate any attractive people at a gun show on the second anniversary of Sandy Hook, the content of their character was the last thing you had in mind.

Please do not take anything I have written to be an insult or an attack. I believe I have only identified differences between you and the people you observed at the gun show. The real purpose of my letter is to let you know that differences in looks and culture are okay, Mr. Bradford. I understand that your one and only try at understanding gun owners was blocked by your prejudices and biases against those who are different. I am extending an invitation to take you to a range, teach you to safely handle and operate a firearm, and answer any question you have about guns or gun owners. Reaching out to those who are different to share my culture is something I try to do to bridge gaps in understanding and end hate.

I know our meeting will be worth your time despite the fact that I’m not that pretty myself. I am confident that you and I can put aside our differences and find opportunities of understanding and similarities that will result in a chance for you to grow as a person and a writer.

“The world is full of people who have never, since childhood, met an open doorway with an open mind.” ― E.B. White


Schwartz is the Regional Coordinator of Gun Owners of California as a volunteer.


Comments 26

  1. Swap out the words “gun owner” or “gun show attendee” with any other term describing a group of people by race, gender, faith, or physical attribute, and see it you’d get away with it without howls of protest over the horrible stereotyping and bigotry. Never mind that it’s also stereotyping to think only unattractive white people shoot guns.

    A transgender women’s shooting club? Good on you, ladies!

  2. I don’t understand the connection between his article and Planned Parenthood. What am I missing?

    But, I’m open to that. It sounds really interesting. I’m not on Twitter so I hope he sees this response. Weekends are better for me, but weeknights work too.

    Mr. Bradford, if you read this, email me at and we’ll get it arranged so it fits everyone’s schedule best.

  3. Michael remember, once their minds are made up, you only confuse them with facts.

    I stopped wasting my time on these type of people. They are now in the minority here in America. I spend my time teaching new shooters how to be safe and enjoy the shooting sports and became safe and secure in themselves and their families.

    None the less, great response Michael.

  4. The connection is that he started his article with Sandy Hook which was a tragic mass murder of children. He wants to take you to Planned Parenthood to show you the medically acceptable way to tragically mass murder children.

  5. Thank you, Harold, but I have faith. I’ve taken a lot of people shooting for their first time. Everyone has had a fun, safe, and educational experience. I know this author will too. After the range and after I meet his wife at PP, I’ll be happy to buy him a beer as well.

  6. My brother was murdered in a shooting and we probably don’t share many opinions regarding guns but this is a very well-written response to an article I also found lacking in juice. I only wish he had taken the time to speak to and tell the stories of the interesting people you mentioned. Well done.

  7. you can only convince the ones in the middle, those liberal whack jobs are beyond repair.

    Great article btw!

  8. The warning not to cast your pearls before swine comes to mind. But I admire your willingness to engage the other side. Since he’s offering to bring his wife, maybe you could bring yours. She’s a gun owner. It’ll be interesting to see if he takes you up on your offer, and if he follows through on his plan to have his wife give a lesson on abortion.

  9. He did email me. I won’t put the content of his email online because he sort of asked me not to. He was polite and even complimentary.

    But basically, he won’t go to a range with me, he won’t actually give me a tour of Planned Parenthood, and his column is kind of a created character meant to be controversial. He did make it clear that he does have very strong anti-gun convictions.

    My offer was less about guns or politics and more about gun owners who are generally some of the best people I know. Not because they own a gun, but because of who they are.

  10. “…meant to be controversial.”

    We’ve never done that here.

    Nice job, Michael, great letter.

  11. Thanks TA.

    If we don’t stand up to him when he goes after the gun show folk….wedding show and cat show people are next. It stops here!

    (Actually, I’ve been to a cat show and that might deserve an article, frankly.)

  12. Meant to be controversial in this instance means safely controversial. The same way the Daily Show and Colbert Report are safely controversial. They flatter the sensibilities of their audiences by mocking those whom their audiences judge uncool. It’s a rather boring form of entertainment, actually.

    Good for you, Michael, for putting him under the spotlight and outing his work as pure shtick.

  13. Great job Michael. Nice to know that slanderous articles on gun owners will no longer get a “free ride.”

    For those who agree with Michael, or like having an advocate, you can join Gun Owners of CA here

    In an amazing deal, for only $15 more you can enter a raffle with only 1500 tickets sold max, where they give away a gun every week for 52 weeks in 2015. Nice guns too.

  14. “In an amazing deal, for only $15 more you can enter a raffle with only 1500 tickets sold max, where they give away a gun every week for 52 weeks in 2015. Nice guns too.”

    Do they do a background check on the winners?

  15. Hypocrisy questioned,

    All California laws must be followed for the winner of a gun, same as if the person were buying the gun. That means Firearms Safety Certificate, and DROS background check, and CA registration.

  16. “he won’t go to a range with me, he won’t actually give me a tour of Planned Parenthood,”

    At least he’s a man of his word. [/sarcasm]

    His character really is a jerk.

  17. Am I missing something. You want to take him to a shooting range and teach him about gun safety. Something that can be used for self-defense. He wants to take you to a Planned Parenthood meeting to teach you about aborting defenseless babies. Abortions kill more people in this country than people using guns. What is his point? Oh, that’s right. Abortions are ok because they don’t consider those babies people.

  18. Protecting yourself isn’t a Republican issue or a Democrat issue. It isn’t a left or right issue, a gay or straight issue, an old or young issue, a black, white, Asian or Hispanic issue. It’s not a male issue or female issue.
    It’s everyone’s issue.

    I encourage everyone, not just people who belong to groups that are historically frequent victims of violent crimes, but everyone to buy a gun, pay for training, and then fight like hell against those who try to put more restrictions on your rights to keep and to bear arms. Those could be elected, appointed, anti-civil liberty activists, or in this case a journalist.

  19. TO RYAN BRADFORD: I’m moderately pro-choice. And a gun owner. And an ARDENT defender of the right to keep and bear arms.

    So, why do you want me to go to Planned Parenthood to get educated on abortion? Perhaps to look closely at some newly removed fetuses at variously stages of development? And if we’re lucky, getting a late term dead baby or two to cuddle?

    I suspect your idea of a fun outing is far different than mine. And you’re a guy I want nowhere near a gun — or a gun range.

  20. San Diego is lucky to have a guy like Michael Schwartz. Mr. Schwartz is out in front on the defense of Liberty and our Right to Bear Arms. His tireless dedication to the preservation of the Second Amendment is unparalleled in San Diego County. We have a solid and growing group of “Defenders of Liberty” in San Diego and Michael is one of the Leaders of that group. Hooyah Michael Schwartz!

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