An open letter to Forbes’ new gun writer

Dear Ms. MacBride,

I was excited when I first learned that Forbes Magazine was creating a gun beat, even if the position was going to be filled by a stringer instead of a staffer.

I was equally thrilled when I learned they had selected a female writer.

Unfortunately, most gun writers are old white dudes. I cannot wait for the day when those who report on the firearms industry better reflect the diversity of the entire gun community. We need more female voices and more gun writers of color.

I have read some of your columns and believed you were off to a good start.

Things changed, however, when I read your May 28 column: “How I Set Off the Alarm at NRA Headquarters,” an account of your tour of the National Firearms Museum, which is located at NRA headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia.

When members of the mainstream media parachute into the gun community for what I like to call a journey of self-discovery — be it a trip to the range or a visit to a gun show — the bar is pretty low.  One columnist who squeezed off a few rounds from an AR recently claimed the experience left him with PTSD.

In other words, we don’t expect too much, maybe just someone who understands the difference between a clip and a magazine.

Even with these lowered expectations, your column stopped me cold, specifically this paragraph:

“Writing about the business of guns has been different than any other beat I’ve covered. The vast majority of American gun owners don’t need their guns. They want to own them mainly to satisfy emotional needs.”

Ms. MacBride, need is a huge red flag for gun owners, for several reasons.

Gun ownership is a constitutional right codified in the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights. It’s not called the Bill of Needs.

The Second Amendment doesn’t say anything about need. (Please give it a read. You’ll also notice there’s nothing about hunting either. That may prevent errors in future columns.)

When you say that the “majority of American gun owners don’t need their guns,” you seem to be implying that need equates to use — using them for personal defense (i.e., shooting bad guys.)

By this bizarre standard, I have only needed a gun a few times in my life, but I can assure you that a defensive firearm was a pretty nifty thing to have around.

By the same token, the vast majority of Americans don’t need fire extinguishers, yet the vast majority of Americans find them pretty nifty to have around as well.

I’m also very curious about your claim that most Americans own guns to “to satisfy emotional needs.”

How do you know this?

Did you ask all of them?

Are you speaking on behalf of all gun owners?

If so, please stop.

I’ve only been writing about guns for a little more than five years, and each day I realize how little I really know about the vast firearms world. The gun community is huge and incredibly diverse. No one could possibly speak on behalf of all gun owners.

I speak only for one gun owner — me. It’s actually pretty simple. To do otherwise is fraught with problems, like the ones you created for yourself in this column.

I noticed a significant error of fact in another of your unattributed pronouncements:

“The feeling of confidence that comes from carrying a gun, reinforced by that image of the defender, is powerful.”

Ms. MacBride, nothing could be further from the truth.

Carrying a defensive firearm is a heady decision. It means that the concealed carrier has chosen to defend their life or that of another — including a somewhat pompous and condescending journalist — from harm.

A concealed firearm effects where they go, what they do, what they drink, what they wear and much more.

It also requires them to train — religiously.

It’s an incredible burden.

We train for the worst possible scenario — taking a human life — and, trust me on this, that is an unbelievably horrible experience that stays with you forever. There’s nothing “powerful” about it.

The next time you meet a concealed carrier — instead of being smug or lampooning them — I suggest you thank them. You see, they’re willing to defend you if, God forbid, The Bad Man comes into the room. They’re willing to save your life — no questions asked — even if you think they’re only doing it to satisfy some emotional need.

Ms. MacBride, if I have offended you, I am sorry.

To hurt was not my intent.

I simply want to nudge you toward the right path where, based upon your earlier work, you appeared to be heading.

Your column caused a tremendous buzz within the gun community and none of it was good.

But if you learn from this, you’ll find we’re a forgiving bunch.

Besides, we need your skill set.

Troglodytic trigger-pullers like me are a dime a dozen, but someone who can write intelligently and accurately about the business of firearms will always be welcome.

Best of luck,



About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.


  1. John Yeager on

    Great letter,
    A lot of us Pray to never ever pull a gun and point at another human being, but that said, we also dont want anyone harmed, including ourselves.

  2. Pingback: An open letter to Forbes' new gun writer - The Gun Feed

  3. John S Albano on

    Far more civil and constructive than most would have been. A great letter with good advice that I hope she takes to heart.

  4. Pingback: There Is No Such Thing As A Gun, And 8 Other Lessons From The Gun Business Beat by Forbes - Entrepreneurs - Serebral 360º

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