“If they’re not into guns, I can’t hang with them,” he says.
Gun owners come in many shapes and sizes and demographic categories and political ideologies, and no individual — not even National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, who testified this past week on Capitol Hill — speaks for all of them. Farago certainly doesn’t pretend to be a spokesman. His blog has a running feature in which people of different ages, races and backgrounds pose for a picture holding a statement describing themselves, including the line “I am a gun owner.”
“Most people think of gun owners as right-wing conservatives,” he says. “Old white fat guys — OWFGs, we call them on the site. That’s certainly how the NRA looks, but that’s not the fact of gun ownership around the country.”
He’s drawn sharp criticism from other gun bloggers for not being a true gun guy, and they’ve accused him of copyright infringement. He denies that, saying that while it’s true he aggregates material from other sources, he sticks to what is legally defined as fair use.
He boasts that his is the biggest firearms blog in the world, and says of his critics: “What can I tell you? They’re jealous.”
Over time, he has bought a lot of guns. He now owns 12 pistols and six long guns, including an AR-15-style semiautomatic (an FN SCAR-16 — Special Forces Combat Assault Rifle). But early on he realized that, to be a true gun guy — to join “the people of the gun,” as he puts it — he needed more than hardware.
What did he know about the Second Amendment? Not much, he says. He initially thought some regulations were good, including background checks. But he found himself listening to his readers, following their lead on politics. He became a Second Amendment absolutist.
He also realized he needed to learn more about self-defense, and so he sought out a teacher. That’s how he found his mentor, the man he calls “the Rabbi.”
David Kenik lives in rural Rhode Island, close to Massachusetts, in a spacious house on a quiet cul-de-sac. Kenik makes self-defense training films and sells them commercially. He owns many guns, including about 20 AR-15-style semiautomatic rifles, civilian versions of the military’s M-16. Kenik keeps them in a safe, around the corner from a sprawling miniature train set.
Such weapons have been a surging part of the firearms market for years, and there are now probably several million AR-15-style guns in civilian hands in the United States, though exact numbers are hard to nail down. They’re relatively lightweight, easy to use, easy to accessorize, and many gun owners like the way they look and feel. The firearms industry calls them “modern sporting rifles,” though the gun enthusiasts often refer to them simply as “black rifles,” because that’s the usual look.