“An armed resident is a citizen; an unarmed resident is a serf” Quincy, an NRA lifetime member tells me, repeating one of many phrases widely used by gun rights proponents.1 “Tell that to a liberal, and they think it's about taking over the country,” he adds and, without pause, corrects his hypothetical liberal critic by insisting that gun ownership is actually about “preventing government tyranny.” Quincy is a white, married father of two and is in his mid-forties. He is a college graduate, a lifelong Republican, ex-military, an NRA-certified instructor, and lives in an upper-middle-class community in the Southeast. Like most NRA members, his first memories of picking up a gun are tied to his dad. He reads the NRA's political magazine, America's First Freedom, “cover to cover” each month and describes it as “excellent.” Quincy joined the NRA for political reasons: “If the Democratic Party had their way, they'd ban guns tomorrow. What part of 'shall not be infringed' don't people understand?” he asks me, both rhetorically and incredulously. He supports instant background checks on gun purchases to keep guns out of the wrong hands, and self-identifies as usually a single-issue voter for gun rights.
Quincy is satisfied with the NRA's leadership, pointing out the group's large membership. The truth is, he tells me, “People against the Second Amendment do more for our membership than our leadership does.” Quincy believes that his fellow members perceive threats to gun rights just as he does and that Democrats pose the primary threat. He worries that the Democrats and the UN are working together to subjugate countries and their citizens to treaties that include gun control and confiscation. To help inform his voting decisions and keep his congressional representatives tuned into his concerns about gun rights, Quincy discusses gun issues with them. He “never misses a chance to vote,” and only votes Republican in national elections so that he can help prevent federal gun control legislation. In short, Quincy is a Gun Crusader.