A very interesting post from Eugene on preference falsification. Quote:
“Growing up in Seattle, I knew nobody who owned a gun.”
The striking thing is that this statement is almost certainly false: I strongly suspect that anyone growing up even in a very insular corner of Seattle did know people who owned guns. He just didn’t know that he knew them, because they weren’t telling, and one of the reasons they weren’t telling was precisely the casual assumption that of course no-one in their circle would ever do such a thing.
The quote reminds me of Justice Powell’s famous line “I don’t believe I’ve ever met a homosexual,” said at the time Justice Powell was considering his vote in the Bowers v. Hardwick (1986) gay sex case. (See John C. Jeffries, Jr.’s biography.) Powell had by then had several gay clerks, and apparently said the statement to a clerk who was himself in fact gay. Powell’s belief that he’d never met a homosexual was much like some people’s belief that they didn’t know anyone who owned a gun.
This also helps show the wisdom of many gay rights activists’ view that coming out to friends and family is itself a potent political action. It’s much harder to demonize that which your friends happily do than that which no-one you know would ever dream of doing. (Still possible to criticize it, of course, but harder to demonize it.) Gun owners in relatively non-gun-owning circles — especially the well-liked and good-looking gun owners — should do the same.