TOPIC: If ‘Democracy Dies In Darkness,’ Dave Workman Will Light A Torch With Gunpowder
TALK SHOW GUEST
Senior editor at TheGunMag.com
Communications director for the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms
Award-winning outdoor writer & former member of the NRA Board of Directors
Recognized expert on Washington State gun laws.
He has appeared and been featured many times by local TV stations, news programs, and talk shows, including Kirby Wilbur, Dave Ross, Dori Monson, John Carlson, Ken Schram, and more.
If ‘Democracy Dies In Darkness,’ Dave Workman Will Light A Torch With Gunpowder
Reporters attempt to pose questions to U.S. President Donald Trump during a news conference in the East Room at the White House on February 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
The Washington Post’s new slogan “Democracy Dies in Darkness” is apt given all the pressures now reshaping journalism (some from the Oval Office), but then, when you consider how the Post treats a few highly polarizing issues, their new slogan at times can feel insincere.
If there are two sides to every story, then, when it comes to the Second Amendment at least, the Post has only been telling one of them.
There are a lot of reasons for this, but one is they don’t have even one politically incorrect, gun-owning nonconformist like Dave Workman in their newsroom. They once had Stephen Hunter on staff, but he is a rare thing indeed.
In the 1940’s, Central Casting would have called Workman an “atmosphere” character for any newspaper newsroom scene. Today they wouldn’t even let his mustache in the door.
Workman is the type who only trips into a lyrical line out of sheer bluntness. He is after facts, not prose that paints a pretty picture or a witty line that would impress Maureen Dowd. After President Donald Trump’s speech before Congress, Workman wrote that a few Democrat’s “gave [Trump] a ‘thumbs down’ like privileged Romans motioned for the death of a gladiator at the Colosseum.” With Workman, even if you disagree with his conclusions, you always get the feeling he is trying to boil out the perfidy.
So what does such a journalist say about the media’s take on issues related to the Second Amendment? After reading his book Right to Carry: I Carry a Gun a Cop is Too Heavy, I asked what his interactions with other reporters are like.
He said, “Yeah, I know a lot of the local reporters, both print and broadcast. Over the years they’ve gotten into the habit of touching base with me on gun issues because they know it’s what I write about. For some of them, I may be the only gun owner they know. I start by telling them the Second Amendment is no less important than the First.”
Now that’s boiled down.
Workman lives in a state that votes Democrat blue and many of his columns are on Washington State politics. He grew up in Tacoma, Washing. He says his high school “English lit teacher wouldn’t sign off on my request to write for the school newspaper. He didn’t think I had the talent. That pissed me off. I went to college, got on the staff of the campus newspaper and in my second year went back to the high school and told that teacher I was the editor of the campus newspaper.”
His first job out of college was at a little weekly newspaper in a logging community. From there he spent 21 years at Fishing & Hunting News before moving to Gun Week.
“Every major newspaper ought to have someone on staff who understands firearms and the people who own them,” he says. “A reporter who understands guns could put gun-control proponents, and especially any grand-standing politician, on the spot; make them justify what they’re after by hitting them with questions based on statistical facts, rather than emotion.”
That, I said, might just help us come together for real solutions.
Workman said, “Exactly. Just look at the effort to ban so-called ‘assault weapons. Look at the FBI data. Rifles of any kind are involved in a fraction of homicides in any given year, about 2 to 3%. There are literally millions of semi-auto rifles that fit the anti-gunners’ definition of an ‘assault weapon’ now in private ownership. If there was really a problem with these guns, we would all know about it.”
Then he said, “Some people might be surprised, but I don’t own one. My son does. I’ve fired a lot of them, in many different calibers. They’re fun to shoot, and some of them have been remarkably accurate, but they just never got the right juices flowing for me, I guess. I’ve driven some really fast cars, but my personal vehicle is a 4×4 pickup truck. Go figure. By the same token, I wouldn’t be the least bit bothered if my neighbor owned a house full of them. If he’s not hurting anyone or being careless, it’s none of my business, and it’s certainly none of the government’s business.”
Still, Workman blames the U.S. Supreme Court for the current politics of the gun issue, not the media. “The high court seems reluctant to take on another Second Amendment case after Heller in 2008 and McDonald in 2010,” says Workman. The court needs to look at challenges to restrictive carry laws in states including New York, New Jersey, Maryland and a handful of other states. After all, many states have ‘right to bear’ provisions in their constitutions, and that translates to ‘right to carry.’ It’s a right, not a privilege. Same as freedom of speech.”
When asked what he thinks the future of reporting is, he says, “That’s a hard one. I think social media has, in many ways, forced some people in the news business to be a little more honest and insightful. Others are simply hopeless, at both ends of the spectrum. When reporters ask fundamentally stupid questions using the rhetoric of the gun-prohibition lobby, it’s embarrassing and it affects all of us. It’s human nature to put more weight on the side of an argument we agree with than to the other side, but reporters aren’t really supposed to make that call.”
Workman doesn’t want to be categorized as a gun-rights advocate. He said, “I’ve called a few people out for identifying me as a gun advocate instead of the senior editor of a firearms publication. That pisses me off because they’re trying to pigeonhole me as a proponent rather than a journalist who writes about this stuff and therefore understands it. If you’re going to honestly write about the firearms culture, you damn well better understand it. Too many people think gun owners are a bunch of ignorant rubes. I know attorneys, tech engineers, cops, judges, businessmen and doctors who are gun owners. They’re educated and they don’t like being stereotyped.”
On the future, Workman is a little more cautious. He said, “I think the country has been polarized for several years, and some people like it that way. It’s how they stay in positions of power. We’ve come together when it counted, after 9-11 for example, but the divisions inevitably come back. It’s because we’re not all alike. I don’t think the gun prohibition movement is going to disarm America, but they’re not going away, either. They may want to take away everyone’s guns, but that’s delusional. American gun owners are not going to give up their civil rights and obediently line up at some collection site to turn over their firearms as has happened in other countries.”
Can you seem him, his heavy mustache fluttering, as he shines that perspective in The Washington Post’s newsroom? Yeah, I can’t either, but it’s fun to try.