For an Englishman, US Gun Nuts are an intriguing phenomenon. Ferociously conservative, lovers of the Constitution yet haters of the state, a tendency to confuse government with communism, respectable blue collar/lower middle class, supporters of the Tea Party movement and, of course, the National Rifle Association.
Scattered within their ranks are lunatic conspiracy theorists, white supremacists, Nazi survivalists, whacko Christian fundamentalists, and those who believe every word Glenn Beck says.
But, on the whole, they're not certifiably insane. They're main street America who love guns, own lots of them, and are organised to discourage the government from taking them away.
The closest British equivalent are Daily Mail readers. They share characteristics with US Gun Nuts but with a couple of big differences. Daily Mail readers are overwhelmingly suburban and authoritarian. They are also, fortunately, unarmed.
Daily Mail readers may, like US Gun Nuts, hate the state but, when push comes to shove, they demand big government to discipline the poor, the blacks, the single mothers, and to be nasty to foreigners.
Plus the notion of abolishing the Queen in favour of an elected head of state would fill Daily Mail readers with gloom. For a US Gun Nut an unelected head of state would be intolerable.
The Gun Nuts' hero is John Wayne. Self sufficient on his horse, a six gun strapped to his Levi's, walking tall and living free, never demanding a state handout. The Gun Nut slogan is: 'There's no such thing as a free lunch.' In some ways they're admirable. When they become excited they may quote Thomas Jefferson:
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
The notion of overweight NRA members taking on the US military is laughable. But it's the thought that counts.
In other words they're children of the American revolution. While Daily Mail readers are products of the British class system. I'd claim a US Gun Nut is morally superior to a British Daily Mail reader. At least the Gun Nut loves liberty.
Gun Nuts are wrong of course. They defend a hand-gun saturated society which causes immeasurable harm. But no one's going to take their guns away, no siree.