EPISODE 7: ANNE
SAMIA VO: This is Make America Relate Again. I’m Samia Mounts.
Thanks so much for coming back for Episode 7. Last week’s show was pretty heavy, complete with tears and lots and lots of abortion talk. I got a ton of great feedback from you guys, including an email from a neural biologist going into even more detail than my show notes about why it can’t be argued that a fetus feels pain and the fact that fetuses have their own DNA doesn’t constitute personhood from a scientific perspective. I loved that email so much that I’ve posted it on the Episode 6 page on the show website, www.makeamericarelatepodcast.com.
This week’s show features my conversation with a woman we'll call Anne. She lives near San Antonio, Texas, and she drove over an hour to speak with me in my hotel room in Austin in late May—May 27, 2017, to be exact. Anne and I were connected through our mutual friend, Marsha, who we both know from high school. Marsha and I were best friends during our junior year at Seoul American High School in Seoul, Korea, and Anne and Marsha knew each other from when Marsha went to high school in Texas. Next week, I’m going to show you a wonderfully productive conversation the three of us had about white privilege, but first, let me introduce you to Anne.
Anne works in a psychiatric facility for mentally ill people who have been involved in crimes. Woof. Heavy. She’s married with four kids—two little baby ones and two on the verge of adulthood. And she has enough guns to outfit “a small army,” to use her words.
As a liberal who grew up in a country where citizen gun ownership is illegal, the gun control issue in the U.S. has always baffled me. When we have all this research pointing so strongly to the conclusion that more guns equals more gun violence and death, why is it so hard to convince people—especially people with children in the house—that owning guns is a bad idea?
Anne explained it to me in a way I’d never considered before, completely shedding light on why this issue is so emotionally fraught for so many Americans.
The usual disclaimers here. I’ve edited the interview for clarity and time, but was careful not to change meaning or context. My guest and I are not experts, so we get things wrong sometimes. For the real story on everything we discuss, check out the show notes for this episode at www.makeamericarelatepodcast.com. You’ll find detailed fact checks with linked sources for every single claim we make.
Also, in order to make these conversations as comfortable for my guests as possible, I record them using a single omnidirectional microphone, usually in their home or office, or in this case, in the hotel room I was staying in. The result is a lower sound quality than you’d get in a recording studio, but with much more intimacy and honesty and less nervous energy. I think it’s important for the nature of these conversations that everything be set up to make people feel at ease.
Lastly, Anne had a cold when we recorded this, so her voice is slightly hoarse and sometimes very quiet. If there are things she says that you can’t understand, feel free to check out the transcript for this episode at makeamericarelatepodcast.com.
Okay, let’s go meet Anne.
Samia: All right. I am sitting in a hotel room in Austin, Texas, with Anne, who drove all the way up from where?
Anne: Outside of San Antonio. [laughs]
Samia: She drove all the way up from this place that's just outside of San Antonio, which is not that close, to talk to me today. So Anne, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for being here.
Anne: Thank you.
Samia: Anne, so tell me a little bit about yourself, your upbringing, where you're from, your family life, and what shaped your political leanings.
Anne: I'm 37. I just had a birthday in—two weeks ago, a week and a half ago, on the 18th of May.
Samia: Happy birthday!
Anne: Thank you. I grew up in San Antonio, graduated from Madison, got married. I moved to Seguin. About 12 years ago, we've been married. I have two stepchildren, and two biological children, so I'm a mom of four. I work at the state hospital in San Antonio, for mental health, psychiatric hospital, so I've been doing that about nine years. And my political beliefs, when my parent brought me up, I was always involved with watching them in the election, and just more, now that I'm an adult, I have to make my own decisions, because my choices affect my children, and our children's children. So I grew up very involved with the politics, and knowing who the presidents are, and I know all the presidents of my lifetime.
Samia: Amazing. Did you vote for Obama?
Anne: No. I did not vote for Obama, which-
Samia: Either time?
Anne: Neither time. My husband did, which that brought some, some, not really conflict to our marriage, just more of differences of opinion of…
Samia: Oh, I'm really curious what your reasons were for voting against him, and what your husband's reasons were for voting for him.
Anne: My husband's was, he wanted change. That's what, he wanted the change. And for me, I just, I just, some of his—the late-term abortion. That just doesn't sit well with me. Yes, every woman has her own choice, but for me personally, ending a life...24 weeks and on is a viable child, and now with being a NICU graduate mom, babies can survive at 24 weeks.
Samia: Your saying that your child was born prematurely.
Samia: And had to be entered right into the Natal Intensive Care Unit, at the very beginning of her life.
Anne: Yes. I didn't see her the two days after I had her, and-
Samia: That must've been so hard.
Anne: For me, everybody else got to go see her, and I'm just in the hospital room like... And for me, coming from that point, this was before I had my children. But I can see how, it's traumatic. You're supposed to leave the hospital with your baby. You're not supposed to, you leave, and your baby stays with strangers. And I dealt with a lot of guilt, and bonding with my daughter that I don't feel I have, because I didn't get it when she was born. And for me, if...the abortion issue for me, if it's certain circumstances, I can understand. I would get rape, incest, the quality of life of a child. That's a different situation. But it's just kinda like, to end it at 24 weeks, it just...24 weeks and on, it's a viable child. Each week is a little bit better, the longer they're in, but-
Samia: You have issues with late-term abortion.
Samia: So before we started recording, we talked about, like, your main issues, and you said you had trouble trusting Hillary Clinton, because of the Benghazi investigation.
Samia: That you had a strong stance on gun control, and a strong stance on abortion. I talked to one woman for this podcast, in a previous episode, whose main issue was abortion, and she was like, really hardcore about it. Like, I will make no exceptions. Rape, incest, I don't care. Like, if the child is supposed to be born, we should not do anything to stop it, which I really strongly oppose. But what you're saying, I can kinda get behind. Late-term abortions isn't really something anybody wants, except in the case of, you know, health of the mother.
Samia: Which you make an exception for, so I actually have no beef with you on that issue, as a liberal. Do you have any compunction, any problems with abortions up through the first and second trimester?
Anne: No, because for me, I've had friends that had them. The ones that have multiple abortions, I have an issue with. If you're getting abortion after abortion, like the one lady on Dr. Phil had seven in a year.
Anne: For me, that's murder. For me, it took me nine years to have my children. Being told you're never gonna have children, even if something was wrong with one of my children, I couldn't justify ending their life, because God gave me this child for a reason. But for the ones from up until past the late-term, I don’t—that’s the mother's choice. If she can't do it, then that's why we have these programs. But don't make a habit of it. Don't just constantly...you can use condoms. There's other birth control, besides.
Samia: It does get ridiculous when you've got somebody who's getting, you know, abortion after abortion after abortion, because at that point, you're like, "Well, do something differently, for heaven’s sake.”
Anne: And I have a friend that, she had twins, and she had to get it medically done, because it was her life or their life.
Samia: Oh wow.
Anne: She had pain medicine for the first one. The second one, she didn't. They didn't realize it was twins, or it ran out, and she felt everything.
Samia: That's terrible.
Anne: And she said she'll never have another one again, because of the—she says torture that she went through.
Samia: Yeah. That she went through.
Anne: That she went through.
Anne: And it’s—you mourn that loss, even though you have an abortion, you mourn that loss, just like if it's a miscarriage. You still mourn that child. You think, there's a song, Who Would You Be Today by Kenny Chesney. He sings that song, so a lot of times, they may not outwardly grieve for that child, but subconsciously, you're gonna grieve for that child.
Anne: Because you regret. I don't know if all women regret it, but some probably will regret what they did. There's plenty of women that I've known that had them, and it doesn't change my friendship with them, because that's their body, their choice. But then there are so many other families that are wanting a child, and for me, if you're past that term of getting an abortion, give the child up for adoption. Give that child a chance at life.
Samia: I don't think that we have much that we actually disagree on, on the subject of abortion, actually. I think we're pretty close.
Samia: All right. I'm gonna turn it over to you. Go ahead and ask me whatever you want to know about, how the hell liberals can think like that? [chuckles]
Anne: I don't understand their thinking. I'm trying to grasp their thinking. For me, I'm more of a free thinker, and go with the flow, and try to…I don't understand why they hate Republicans, if they—what about Republicans that they don't like? That's why I'm trying to understand.
Samia: Okay. I can start to address that. That's a pretty big question. I would say that there are just a lot of Republican positions that liberals feel lack compassion. Look at the current healthcare bill that just passed the House.
Samia: It will knock 23 million Americans off of their health insurance. The new budget proposal makes drastic cuts to programs like Medicaid, which a lot of people, including some people I know, rely on for their healthcare. And it just seems like it's really cruelly unfair to lower income people, who need those programs, just to get care. So like, for liberals, these policies are inhumane. I don't hate Republicans. There are Republicans in government that I don't like what they're doing. But hate is a really strong word, although I know exactly what you're talking about, because there are a lot of liberals that will say they hate Republicans, or they hate conservatives, they hate Trump voters. And that's kind of what spurred me to make this podcast, because I saw all of this hate and anger flying around, and yet the liberals are the ones who are like, compassion and love. Let's not hate each other. And I'm like, but you guys are falling right into that trap right now, and you don't even see it.
Samia: So I wouldn't use the word hate, for myself. But that would be the answer. It's the policies. The policies seem to disproportionately target poor people, minorities, including queer people, LGBTQ, as well as ethnic and religious minorities within this country. And that's the main basis for the ire towards Republicans that you see from Democrats, and liberals in general.
Anne: What was your reasons for voting for Hillary?
Samia: My reasons were many. I believe that Hillary Clinton would've made a great president. I liked her policies. I liked her focus on policies. I thought in the campaign, she had a lot to say about what she would do, and Donald Trump had a lot to say about “bad hombres” [thay laugh], you know, and building a wall, and draining the swamp, which, like, I don't think he's gonna do either of those things. Between those two candidates, I thought that Hillary Clinton was the better one. Why did you think that Donald Trump would be the better candidate? Because it seems like we have a lot of the same concerns, actually.
Anne: He wasn't a politician, and that's just what sparked my interest, is he wasn't a politician. He wasn't...when I grew up, Trump was just the big guy that lived in New York with the towers.
Anne: That’s how I saw Trump, and actually, I was watching Fresh Prince of Bel-Air last night, and Trump was on there with his first wife, or one of the wives. I don't remember which one, but it just brought it up, like he's been in so many different things. He was in Little Rascals. Walter, I think, the little rich boy, he played his Dad.
Anne: And they said, well, he's failed at businesses. Yes, he's failed, but he's never given up. He may have had businesses that have failed, but he kept going. I mean, that’s what sparked it into me, that he didn't give up. He just kept pursuing. He didn't give up.
Samia: But did you think that he was going to, like, be on the side of the little guy, like he sort of promised to be in the campaign?
Anne: For me, politicians say what—they say what you wanna hear, and it's just if they say it, I want you to back it up.
Anne: And I don't know if he's going to back it up or not. We shall see, but…
Samia: How do you feel about how he's been doing so far?
Anne: He's doing okay, as best as he can. I just still think a lot of people don't like him, and they want to find any little dirt to stir up the media, and for me, half the stuff I hear on the media, I don't believe it ’til I research it myself.
Samia: Yeah. What do I want to ask you about? Ooh! Let’s talk about guns. I have not talked about guns with anybody on the podcast so far, so this is exciting. [laughs] Tell me about your stance on guns, and gun control.
Anne: I love them. I've grown up with them since I was three. I know Governor Abbott just signed the bill lowering the cost for your concealed handgun license to $40.
Anne: For single women to be able to defend themselves or their children is awesome to me. If you're a law-abiding citizen, there's no reason why you should not be able to own a firearm. I've been raised around them since I was three years old. I could unload them. I grew up with them, so I'm not afraid of them.
Anne: Where I live, it's 15 minutes for 911 to get to me. I don't have 15 minutes, but my gun, I have that. And for me, it’s—protect my family, you know? If someone's after my family, I'm gonna protect my family, and my property.
Samia: So the gun makes you feel safer.
Anne: Safer. And it's ‘cause I don't have 911 right down the street.
Samia: Have you ever had to use it?
Anne: I've pulled it on one person. I never fired, but-
Samia: What happened?
Anne: I live across from a family. I saw—I looked out the window, and I saw a female being held up against the house, so I jumped over my husband, I grabbed my .22, and I ran out the door. He's chasing me trying to figure out why I was running.
Samia: Why is my wife grabbing a gun and running outside? [laughs]
Anne: It was 11 o'clock at night, and for me, I saw someone yelling for help. And I pulled it on him, and I said, "Freeze, mother [mouths the word ‘fucker’].” And the only reason why I didn't shoot is ‘cause there's a trailer, and I didn't know who’s on the other side of that wall. I hope I don't have to pull one on anybody else again, but I wasn't thinking. I’m not thinking, I just thought about protecting my family.
Samia: Yeah. But actually, in this situation, you were protecting a stranger.
Anne: It was actually my niece. I didn't know at the—it was my niece.
Samia: [gasps] And was she actually—was she being attacked?
Anne: Her stepbrother, "I'm playing." I'm sorry, you don't pin somebody up against a house, and that's not playing.
Samia: That's abusive.
Anne: That's coming from me being a victim of assault before, that goes in that survivor mode of fight or flight, and my husband says, "You're lucky she got it, because I would've shot you, and not cared."
Samia: Oh, wow. Okay.
Anne: It's just, like, I think you—we need the questions of who can get one. But the criminals are always gonna get guns, regardless of how many rules you have. The criminals are still gonna get them. Why make it so hard for law-abiding citizens to get them, or single parents to get them?
Samia: Yeah, so, I totally disagree with you on this issue, which is great.
Anne: That's fine.
Samia: Only because, all of the research that we have on this... And to give you some background, I grew up in a country where guns are illegal. Even the military guys don't have guns on the street. The riot police don't have guns. The cops don't have guns. Nobody has guns in Korea, where I grew up. And, you know, not shockingly, the homicide rate is very low there. We say, "Oh, the criminals will get guns no matter what," but they don't in Korea, and they don't in Japan. All of our research shows that more guns means more people dying from guns, because they're there. And it's really easy, in the moment, to panic, and think, "I need my gun," and then shoot somebody who was a friend of your niece.
Samia: And maybe he was doing something out of line in that moment, and it sounds like he was. But does he deserve to die over that? Or have a life-threatening injury over it? Would that have been the best outcome? So yeah. There's this focus on protection. That's a reasonable-sounding argument, what you just said, when it comes to owning guns, and the right to own guns. But it doesn't play out when you actually look at the facts around guns, and the relationship between having more guns, and having more deaths. So how do you feel about that? I mean, when you hear stories of, like, people's kids finding their parents guns, in the box that was hidden in the dark corner underneath the bed—
Anne: But first—
Samia: And then accidentally shooting their brother or sister. Like, how does that make you feel?
Anne: And I understand that. But it ultimately goes to responsibility, of making sure they're secure. All of mine are in a gun safe.
Anne: You need to have them secure. Don't leave them where kids can get them, because kids are curious. For me, they're locked up. But that's just my home. I don't know what happens at their friend's home.
Samia: Well, how many guns do you have?
Anne: A lot.
Samia: You have a lot.
Samia: All right, so it sounds like... I mean, you don't need a lot of guns for personal protection.
Samia: So you have more than... It's more than personal protection.
Anne: It's more like, because my dad passed away, so a lot of it are from him, and so it's…
Samia: Ah. They got passed down.
Anne: It’s a collection, and so, like, people say, “a small army.” Well, I have enough to defend my family, and then some.
Samia: I mean, I don't want to rely too heavily on hypotheticals, but reasonably speaking, everybody in your family with—who knows where the gun safe is, and knows how to open it has access to those guns. And I'm sure you trust all of your family members, but there have been lots of situations where people thought that they were being secure and safe, and then the gun still fell into the wrong hands. Like, a teenager got drunk and wanted to impress his friends, you know?
Samia: And somebody gets shot because of it. There is always the possibility, even with your guns tucked away in a safe, of something devastating like that happening, just out of kids being stupid. So what's your response to that?
Anne: Just try to ensure what they're doing and don't...that's a good question. I just hadn't thought about that, since the older ones, they knew that no one went in the room that they're in, and usually we're home with them. We tend to stay home or have somebody is there, that they're not left home alone. Even the older ones, we always had somebody home.
Samia: I'm interested to see if I talk to you in a few months, if you're like, "You know, I thought about that."
Anne: Yeah. I'm thinking.
Samia: It's a real issue.
Anne: And it is, and there is an incident of the city where I live, where a boy took a gun to school, and he committed suicide at school.
Samia: Oh man.
Anne: And he was the police officer's son…got it from his dad. There's rumors going on of why he did it, but that's small town talk, and there's... But they still lost their son.
Anne: To suicide, at school.
Samia: It's a lot harder to kill yourself any other way than just using a gun.
Anne: Yeah, I know.
Samia: It's a lot harder. Guns make it easier to kill people, period, which is my big problem with them. I just don't think that we need to have instruments of speedy death in the hands of lots of normal citizens. It scares me, and I feel like we would save a lot of lives by having more gun control.
Anne: What... By gun control, what do you mean by this?
Samia: Well, okay, so personally, I have a really extreme viewpoint on this. I think there, that guns should not be a thing. We shouldn't have them. I don't think our cops should have them. I don't think the citizens should have them. Military operations are a different issue, obviously. But in my ideal world, there are no guns or bombs. I know that that's a pipe dream as of now, but I, you know, fantasize about humanity evolving to the point one day where everybody's like, "Let us lay down our arms, and, like, have a big bonfire where we burn all the weapons, and, like, promise to, like, take care of each other forever." So I'm a hippie at heart, is what you're hearing. [laughs] But as far as, like, practical legislation now, I would at least like to see it be made harder for people to get guns. I would at least like to see real gun education being required. An intensive course, that takes a few weeks to complete, that's a real time commitment and financial commitment. Well, then you're making the income disparity come into guns as well, but [sighs] I don't know what to do about that. But something where people had to sign up for a three or four week long course to really learn how to be safe with their guns, to learn de-escalation training, so they don't panic in the moment, you know, and I feel like people should have to retake, or re-certify every year, or every two years, the same way you have to do for CPR training, you know, or in any medical profession, how you have to keep on, you know, making sure you stay current with your education. I don't see why that's so unreasonable, when we're talking about owning instruments of death. I feel like we should at least have those things, and background checks, you know. Something happened early in Trump's presidency, just a few months ago, where there was a bill struck down that would've made it harder for people with severe mental illness to get guns, and what was interesting about that issue was even the ACLU was against that bill, because they were like, "It is discriminating against people with disabilities."
Anne: I work with people with mental illness.
Samia: Yeah. Yeah. I know.
Anne: I can see where you come from on that, because…
Samia: But like, even the liberal institutions were like, "No. We shouldn't make it harder for people with mental illness to get guns, because that's discrimination." And I'm like, "You're getting all your issues confused.” [laughs] I have several close friends who deal with severe mental illness, and they're wonderful people, who I love very dearly, but I would not want them to be able to get a gun, because there are times when they're not all there.
Anne: When they're not on their meds.
Samia: And they're not making the right decisions. And that would be a time when guns should definitely not be available to them.
Anne: And I see your point, considering where I work. I said I work at a psychiatric facility, so that makes sense, because some of these people, they don't need guns. They can do enough damage without the guns, but adding it would make it...and we do do de-escalation training, like you said, but sometimes it doesn't work.
Anne: A lot of them are veterans, and when they're going through their flashbacks, it's frightening what they say, because you don't know if it's a delusion, or if it's the truth. You’re just kinda like—just talking to them to keep them calm, so they don't bust out windows or hurt staff, or hurt other patients.
Samia: What do you do? What kind of a psychiatric facility do you work in?
Anne: The state facility, and I'm on the forensic unit, so I'm with the ones that are there to get competent to stand trial, or they're there because they're NGRI, which is not guilty by reason of insanity.
Samia: Oh wow. So you're dealing with mentally ill people who have been involved with crimes.
Samia: That's intense.
Anne: My opinion is about half legitimately need to be there, and the other percentage just doesn't want to be in jail.
Samia: You think that they're faking mental illness to avoid jail time.
Samia: And have you seen any—have you been involved—I know you probably can't talk details, obviously, but have you been involved in any cases where somebody got ahold of a gun and caused a lot of damage that, if they hadn't been able to get a gun, they wouldn't be able to?
Anne: Not with guns. Not necessarily, but we've had people get hurt, and staff get hurt, just by fists, and…
Samia: I don't mean just in the facility. I mean in the crimes that were committed that brought them there.
Anne: Not that I'm aware of.
Anne: Our security doesn't carry guns. Our security, and any police officer that comes onto our unit has to not have their guns with them. So that's where you're going with they don't allow them, because like you said, you don't want it to get in the wrong hands.
Samia: I'm trying to think if there's any further follow up questions for this issue. You're so easy to talk to, by the way.
Anne: Thank you.
Samia: You’re so easy to talk to, and so, like, levelheaded and reasonable. On this issue of gun control, are there changes that you would like to see?
Anne: I agree with the mental illness, but if they've been stable for so long, and they meet all, they say your requirement, then why can't...they should be able to have one. Like, just because they have a mental illness doesn't necessarily mean that they don't need that protection, or want that protection.
Samia: Okay, so let's just, let's talk about that for a second. Thank you for reminding me. It's commonly seen as a myth amongst people who are against guns, that guns enhance your ability to protect yourself. The reason I was asking you before if you've ever had to use one of your guns on somebody, and you know, you told me the one story of pulling it, and then not using it, thank God, because I think it would've been a—
Samia: —devastating tragedy if you had used it in that moment. I asked you about that because there's this idea that we need guns to protect ourselves. I live in New York City. I've never needed a gun to protect myself. There has never been a single situation where a gun would've made me safer. It seems like quite the opposite is true, that guns make us all less safe, not safer. All of the numbers point to that. All of the numbers, when you look at countries that have guns versus countries that don't, when you have guns, your murder rate's up.
Samia: By a lot. So I guess I want to know, from your perspective, how do you still see guns as something that make us safer, when it seems really clear that they actually make us less safe?
Anne: I guess, for me, growing up in Texas, it's country Bible belt. It's just, I grew up with it, so for me, it's...I've never known a life without one. I always knew where my dad's guns were. I always knew how to make them safe. Since I was little bitty, he taught me, you play with it…he took us out in the country and had a milk jug, and he shot it. He goes, "This is what happens if you play with it." And for me, I just—I’ve never known a time without one, that I just feel that's just a part of my norm growing up, it’s like, ’cause we live out in the country. You've got snakes.
Anne: You got poisonous snakes. You can’t, like, always have a shovel, but a .22 can get rid of the copperhead, or rattlesnake, or something like that, where you’re not necessarily can be safe, if…
Samia: Have you ever had to shoot a rattlesnake?
Anne: Not a rattlesnake, but I've had to go out for a coral snake. I didn't have a gun. I had a shovel, so I chopped its head off.
Anne: But it's just like, where we...it's kinda like…
Samia: But it's been normal for you your whole life.
Anne: For my whole life. I have never known it without one, so it's just kinda like…
Samia: Do you think if somebody took all your guns away right now, and you, like, couldn't have guns anymore, do you think that would raise your anxiety levels?
Anne: Yeah. I think I would have more anxiety.
Samia: That's really interesting. So it's kind of like a security blanket that's been there for you your entire life at this point.
Anne: Like how I...I don't want to compare it to my Bible, but it's just like, my gun and my faith, and it's just how I was raised, and it’s just like, take our Sec...Second Amendment?
Anne: To say, we grew up, you know, that’s our right to bear arms, and that's just how it was brought into our...I don't want to say drilled into my head, but growing up was like, you have the right to bear your arms. You have the right to own a firearm.
Samia: I'd like to send you some material if you'll let me.
Samia: There's a lot of really compelling information that seems to show that that idea of guns as something that actually keep us safer is just wrong, at its core. Now, nobody can argue with personal experiences, and, you know, what you're telling me about what guns have symbolized for you your whole life, like, that’s real. I feel that. I see where you're coming from. But I'll send you some information.
Anne: That's fine.
Samia: And we'll talk at a later date again about this, ‘cause I would love to see if your mind changes over time. I'm gonna send you numbers and stuff, and research studies, and things that talk about the relationship between guns and safety, and death, and all of that. And we'll revisit this.
Anne: And I can say another thing. I lost my dad to suicide by gun.
Samia: Oh god, I'm so sorry.
Anne: And it still… And then the police were like, well, why didn't you lock up your guns? I bought a …
Samia: It was a gun?
Anne: It was a gun. And I was like, "Officer, he had his CHL. He could've gone to Walmart and got one. Even if I locked up every single one I owned, he had a CHL. You can go get one the same day. You don't have to wait once you have your concealed handgun carry license." And it's still... My views still haven't changed. You know, that’s how I lost my dad. He had other issues of why he ended his own life, but it still hadn't changed the...even if I didn't have any guns in my house, he still could've got one, and ended his life.
Samia: Well, I will send all the prayers to heaven that the guns that you have never get used.
Anne: Yeah. They only get used to kill Bambi.
Samia: Do you hunt?
Anne: My husband hunts, so…
Samia: Oh, okay. Cool. Does he, do you guys eat venison, and things like that?
Anne: Yes. Hogs. Venison.
Samia: I actually, I don't have any issues with guns that are used for hunting. I was listening to an interview on the New Yorker Radio Hour, which is a podcast that the New Yorker Magazine makes. It's wonderful. They did an interview with this gun blogger, and I just listened to it recently, while driving through West Virginia, which is definitely gun country. This gun blogger—he loves guns, and he writes about them. It's his full time thing. He owns a gun shop. But he has real beef with the NRA, because in his opinion, guns should be used for sport and hunting, but the NRA, for the last 20 or 30 years, something like that, has been pushing guns for personal protection, and sort of stoking people's fears. With all of their ads, and all of their literature, they're like, "The criminals will always have guns," like you said earlier, and like, ”You have to protect yourself." And It's fear mongering.
Samia: And this particular gun blogger had a huge problem with it, because he's like, "That's just not true." Like, we know it's not true. They're playing on people's emotions, and people's psyches, to get them to put more money into the gun industry. And guns shouldn't be used on people. So I thought that was a really interesting perspective from a gun aficionado. I'll send that to you as well. So yeah. So I'll send you some stuff, and like, and we’ll talk about it again. I'm not expecting you to change your mind on anything. But that is a…
Anne: The more information, the better. It's... I'm eager, I always like to learn. But also, you know, I notice whenever they talk about gun control, you see in the news that the sales of guns go up. The sales of ammunition go up.
Samia: Because people want to stockpile.
Anne: They want to stockpile. And that's probably why we have this. That's what people joke. "You have enough for a small army." I'm like, "Well..."
Samia: I've never even held a gun. They scare the fuck out of me.
Anne: But for me, it's power. Before I got my LASIK, my husband took me to the gun range, because he wanted to make sure, if something happened, I'd be able to defend ourself, because he was working out of town at the time. He's like, "I ain't gotta worry about you." Because you're supposed to get it in the... I got five in the right spot, or in the round. I got it all where, in the kill zone, so to speak.
Samia: Good shot.
Anne: Yeah. He's like, "Damn. Remind me not to piss you off." But I, like you said, I just, I can see where you come from, if you grew up not having any guns, compared to me growing up in Texas, where everybody... " I can tell you a funny story. We were at Cabela's, and I had my great niece with me, and we taught her to shoot the deer. So she'd go up to the deer at Cabela's and go, "Bang, bang. Bang, bang." And the woman says, "Let me guess. She already has a gun." I'm like, "Well, this is Texas, but wait ’til they're three. She's only two and a half.”
Samia: [laughs] What’s Cabela’s?
Anne: Cabela's is this big hunting camping store in Buda. It's this big...they have all these animals that people have hunted, and they donated the...a stuffed zoo is my…
Samia: Oh, it's a taxidermy place.
Anne: Yeah. It's like that, but they have all your hunting, camping, fishing…
Samia: All the equipment.
Anne: All the equipment you need, and it's...they have a bunch of deer, zebras, elephants, like big huge games. But it's…
Samia: Just like stuffed and staring at you?
Samia: That freaks me out. [squeals] Poor animals.
Anne: They have a big fish tank, like big huge fish that they caught, and—the people that work there caught them, and they put them in the fish tank.
Samia: Is there water in it?
Anne: Yeah. It's all the Texas fish.
Samia: Whoa. This place sounds like a trip.
Anne: It's fun.
Samia: Cabela's. I would...that would be like a haunted mansion for me. [Anne laughs] I’d be like, there's guns, and there's camping supplies. Ew, camping.
Anne: There's guns, fishing poles.
Samia: And then stuffed animals.
Anne: There are all kinds of—
Samia: I just didn’t, you know, it's interesting, I never thought...thank you for providing this insight. I never thought of gun control, and guns in general, as being such a deeply psychological, emotional issue.
Anne: It's my family. I grew up with, like...it's just, I can't, me not having it, it's just like, it would, like you said, my anxiety. I have enough issues with anxiety.
Anne: But to take that one right away from me is just…
Anne: That's how I grew up. It's your right to bear arms. You have the right. It's...like you said, I can see your point, but for me, I grew up like...I mean, how do you grow up without not guns? Because…
Samia: Yeah. Well, that's what makes it so interesting, because when you reframe the issue as an emotional one, and something where it's woven, literally, into the fabric of your entire life, I would be reluctant to give up my guns if I were you, too. Because it's more than just a tool, at that point. It's a symbol of something. It's a symbol of security, of safety. That would be hard to separate from if that was something that was there from when you were literally a toddler, a baby.
Anne: Yeah. And that's why—I'm trying to get your point of view, but like you said, I've always been around it, so I've never known a point where I didn't have that protection. Being female, we can protect ourselves, get all the training, like that. But just that added protection. It's just…
Samia: I mean, I also grew up on a military base, so there was protection everywhere.
Anne: Yeah. You had...but I just, I think because we, as women, need our voice, and to have a gun, it just makes it more powerful, and use the word sexy. It's just more, like… You need a man, but you don't need a man. It’s kinda like, for me, I can't wait to get my concealed handgun license. Granted, I can't take it to my job, obviously, but it's just to give you that sense of, like you said, protection or security. Granted, I have little ones, so ultimately yeah, I'm gonna keep them up and safe.
Anne: But I just, I see, growing up with no guns, it seems, I don't want to say weird, but just like, how do you not have…
Samia: Well, it's made it a lot easier for me to take the current information that we have about guns, and just, like, apply it and adopt it. Because I'm like, “Oh, guns make more death happen? Okay, great. I don't think we should have guns.” And it's just that simple. But if I had guns tied up in my emotions like that, as you do, it wouldn't be so simple. It wouldn't be a matter of simply getting the information, processing it rationally, and being like, "Okay. Done." It would be like getting the information, and being like, "That goes against everything that I believed my entire life. And I don't know how to deal with you, so I'm just not gonna like—I’m not gonna look at you.”
Anne: And that's a lot of it, with the politicians, when I see that issues, it's like, guns, especially the gun control, and that's basically what I look at, to see what's your stance on gun control. The other issues, I can kinda be more flexible, and go with the flow, but that's my main issue, is don’t take away our Second Amendment right.
Samia: So then how do you reconcile that with the idea that more guns translates into more deaths?
Anne: I get that. It's just kinda like, if they're not properly trained, it gets in the wrong hands, then I see that. But for me, I'm just kinda like, I don't get how they don't follow the safety, because in Texas, you have to take a course. Like you said. It’s not a three-week course, but it’s, like, a two-day course, on how to properly handle a gun, keep it secure.
Samia: You're blaming the people.
Anne: Yeah. It's like the guns don't kill people. The people kill people.
Samia: If you take the guns out of the equation, the people don't kill people as often.
Anne: I can see that. Or they might use other means of…
Samia: They might. But it's a lot harder to kill somebody in any other way.
Anne: It's not as, as you said, instant, in fact.
Samia: It's not as speedy, it's not as easy. With a gun, you press a button. With a knife, you have to get physical.
Samia: Like, it’s just a fact that...you hear this, "Guns don't kill people. People kill people." Whatever, that is true. But when people have guns, they can kill people a lot easier.
Anne: And more people.
Samia: And more people, in a very short amount of time. You take the guns out of the equation, less people die. Period. From the liberal point of view, we're over here completely baffled, ‘cause we’re like, “You guys are talking about sanctity of life, when it comes to things like abortion, but then you want more guns, when guns have been proven to increase the homicide rate, by a lot.” I'm gonna include the actual numbers in the show notes for this episode, and that's part of what I'm gonna send you later. But it's a huge increase in the number of homicides, the second you have guns being around, that people can just buy at a store and own. You care about people's lives, obviously.
Samia: You're a mental health worker, like, you understand the gravity of the situation. You have a lot of compassion. It just sounds like the emotional attachment to guns is superseding all of that.
Anne: Mmhm. I get that.
Samia: You would agree with that?
Anne: Yes, ma’am.
Samia: That's crazy, isn't it?
Anne: It is, now that I think about it.
Samia: Yeah. But I can understand where you're coming from. It's very human. When we have things that are introduced to us at an early age, we get attached to them. That's just—
Anne: Like our security blankets, our…
Samia: How people are. Yeah. Wow. Thank you.
Anne: You're welcome.
Samia: That's a brand new perspective on this issue. I'd never even thought of it that way. All right, I'm turning it over. It's your turn.
Anne: If you were president, how would you handle the gun control issue?
Samia: Oh, God, that’s a difficult question. Well, like I said, in my perfect world there'd be no guns. We do live in a country where a lot of people are really angry about their guns, so I would probably, being a pretty practical person, start pushing for legislation that slowly chips away at the number of guns that are out in people's hands, with an ultimate goal of let's not have guns in our society. But I would definitely start with way more intense background checks, more intense education and training. I would invest money into informational education programs, to like, show people the difference between our country, and countries that don't have guns, in just the number of people that die, and like, do a lot of awareness raising. That would probably be my approach, because I recognize that it's more than...you can't just slap down a law that says, "No guns," and like, expect people to go along with it.
Samia: With Americans, especially, we're so proud and individualistic, you really have to change people's hearts and minds. So I would build relationships, and I would see how far I could get with just talking to people, and trying to build awareness, and introducing baby steps legislation. That would be my approach, I guess. I'll never be president. I will never run for president. Samia Mounts is making that announcement, on the record. Did you have any follow-up questions?
Anne: Not that I can think of.
Samia: I want to give you a chance then, to ask something else, about a new subject.
Samia: So that you have a chance to, like, grill me for a while, ‘cause I've been grilling you. And I can definitely get on a train and just keep riding it, so I'm gonna give you another turn.
Anne: Would you still have, like, political parties, or would you try to have us be one community, and not liberal, Democrat, Republican?
Samia: I think that our current two-party system is heavily dysfunctional.
Samia: Yeah. [laughs] To put it mildly, right? I don't like the political sniping. A study was done, a survey was done, that was asking liberals and conservatives if they would support a particular policy, but they split them up into two groups, and one group got told that the policy was being supported by a liberal politician, and the other group was told that it was being supported by a conservative politician, and the results showed that liberals and conservatives alike, will say they agree with a policy, no matter what the policy is, if their politician is agreeing with it as well. Or, no. That's not it. Sorry. The study showed that liberals and conservatives alike will disagree with a policy, if the opposing parties’ politicians agree with it, no matter what the policy is. So literally, people will be like—this policy that says whatever, Barack Obama is all about this policy, and conservatives will be like, “Oh, I hate that policy.” But if you give them the same exact policy, and say, you know, Mitt Romney, or Donald Trump is for this policy, they'll be like, "Yeah. Yeah. That's a great one. That’s good. Barack Obama's against it? Good. Yeah. I'm into it." [laughs] So it's gotten stupid.
Samia: Like, where people aren't even thinking about the issues. They're just thinking about the politics, especially our lawmakers in Washington.
Anne: And I have one that's off—well, it's a new subject. For me, with the whole gay, lesbian thing. For me, marry who you want to marry. I don't care. It doesn't affect me. As someone told me, you love hearts, not parts.
Samia: Mmm, I like that.
Anne: And for me, I don't care. I have friends that are gay. I have family members that are gay. It doesn't bother me. I don't really care. And it’s, "You should care. You grew up Christian." It's like, what I grew up was you love everybody. I don't care.
Samia: That's what the Bible teaches.
Anne: It says you love one another as you love yourself. If you love boys, and you're a boy. Doesn't really bother me, because it's your choice. I don't want to say I don't care. I care for them to be able to, if they want to get married, get married. Two of my friends were finally able to get married, because they finally said in Texas, you can marry who you want to marry, regardless of your gender. To me, that's awesome. I congratulated them. But then my husband says, "But that's against the Bible." I'm like, "But we're not God. Who are we to judge?”
Anne: That's their—take it up to there, when they get to heaven. But for me, that's what I say. I think more of a business aspect. Okay, you want to marry her? Good. That's more money for my business.
Anne: It's a cake. Does it really matter how my views is, if you want a cake. I don't care. That's business.
Samia: It sounds like you're using this as an example to show that for you, personally, you look at the issues.
Samia: Individually, and don't just follow the party line.
Samia: But you also, you don't identify as a Republican, right?
Anne: No, I don’t. I may be, as the voters calls me as a Republican, but I don't identify as Republican. I identify as…
Samia: That's all that matters.
Anne: I go by issue. I don't look at—
Anne: —“Oh, you're a Democrat. You're a Republican." I'm gonna vote for an elephant or a donkey. No, I vote for the issue-based stuff.
Samia: Well then how do you feel, like here in Texas, there's been a lot of controversy recently, about them introducing their own version of the bathroom bill, right?
Anne: For me, it's a bathroom. Who cares? Go to the bathroom. I don't care. Boy, girl, purple, green, blue, use the restroom. I've used the male restroom, because there's a line in the female bathroom. I don't care. Make them all unisex. Make them all.
Samia: I agree with you.
Anne: Make them all unisex or give them a porta-potty, because you don't have a choice on a porta-potty.
Anne: To me, a bathroom is a bathroom. You go in there to do your business.
Samia: A porta-potty is a bad experience, no matter what your gender. [laughs]
Anne: Exactly. I had... But the whole, the schools... My son, my middle stepson, he was five years old, and was caught in the bathroom with a little girl. The teacher sent them together. They wanted him to be a sexual deviant, at five.
Anne: I was like, he's five, and why did you send a boy and a girl to the bathroom together at the same time? He was helping her.
Samia: Oh Jesus.
Anne: With her dress or something, but it goes back to the bathroom issue. If you're a teacher, you don't send a boy and a girl together.
Samia: Oh man. Was the little girl okay?
Anne: Yeah. She was fine. He was helping her with her dress or something. It was innocent.
Samia: Oh, he was helping her.
Anne: He was helping her.
Samia: I thought you said he was humping her.
Anne: No. He was helping her.
Samia: I was like, where did he learn that?
Anne: No. Helping, helping. Sorry. Not humping, helping. Helping her in the bathroom, with her dress, or something had a zipper in the back.
Samia: I really appreciate that you have that perspective on that, because that's been a really tough issue, especially for my circles. I'm in theater and music, so, you know, queer people—
Anne: My brother lives in New York City. He just moved up there.
Samia: Oh, fabulous. What's he doing?
Anne: I don't know what he does. He works for some medical company. He got sent to Barcelona and France, and I'm like, really? Can I go to your job? I want to go to Barcelona.
Samia: I know.
Anne: He had a 26-course meal. What's a 26-course meal?
Samia: How do you fit 26 courses inside of you?
Anne: They're like this big. They're about a, like, a bite size each.
Samia: That’s amazing. Yeah. So my social circles are, you know, queer people are heavily, heavily represented. And that's been a really tough issue for a lot of people, is how many Americans have this idea that trans people are sexual predators, and shouldn't be allowed to use the bathroom of their choice. It's silly.
Anne: On that issue, it's those people that are doing those crimes are not transgender. They're using that transgender guide to do evil stuff.
Samia: What do you mean?
Anne: Like the one that was attacking a girl at a Target. It wasn't... He was dressed as a female.
Samia: I don't know this story.
Anne: It was when he attacked a little girl in a bathroom at a Target. He was posing as a female, but was a male, and tried to attack a little girl at a Target.
Samia: But he wasn't a trans person.
Anne: Mm-mm. He was just dressed as a female.
Samia: As a disguise.
Anne: As a disguise. That's my thing. The ones that I hear those, they're not truly transgender, because most transgender people, you're not gonna know what they are. The ones that I know are low-key. They stick to themselves. They don't tell you. They just—
Samia: They're just...yeah.
Anne: Go about their day. They're everyday people.
Samia: Yeah. Exactly.
Anne: For me, I don't really care. I don't send my kids to the bathroom by themselves, to begin with. I use the family bathroom if I have to use anything. If this is happening, with them going after young kids, they're not really trans. They're using that as a disguise to…
Anne: To act on their…
Samia: Well, and I don't know how many people are actually using a disguise. Like, I need to look up this story.
Samia: Because I wanna—if that really happened, I wanna smack this motherfucker in the face.
Samia: Because how dare you, like, add ammunition to this needless fear—
Anne: Yeah, this hyper-fear.
Samia: Of this whole community of, like, really sweet, loving people, who've had it hard enough as it is.
Anne: And for me, like I said, use whatever bathroom you want. I don't pay attention when I go to the bathroom. I go in there, and do my business, and come out.
Samia: Yeah. So silly.
Anne: I'm not gonna ask, "Are you a boy? Are you a girl?”
Samia: Are there any...what other things have you wanted to understand about the liberal mindset? It really...you actually strike me as more liberal than anything, ‘cause the only thing you've said that you really have a conservative stance on is gun control. And that's an emotional issue.
Samia: For you. And everything else you've…
Anne: I just, I go with the flow. Like I…
Samia: You're more in line. Yeah, you're more in line with, like, me and my “coastal elite” New York City friends, than you are out of line with the liberal way of thinking.
Anne: I just try to be happy with everybody. I don't really...if there's something that doesn't agree with me, I try to learn their reasons why they believe what they believe, so I can understand it more.
Anne: I'm all about learning. I don't really, like I said, I don't consider myself one way or the other. I just kinda like…
Samia: You know what? I have a few more questions for you, actually.
Samia: Having to do with how Trump's been doing so far. Did you ever have a moment—you know, he campaigned on the “drain the swamp” idea, which I think was—
Anne: I never heard that, so that why…
Samia: Oh really?
Samia: That was like, he said it over and over again.
Anne: Oh, I just kept hearing about the wall, the wall. I didn't really hear about the swamp, because the swamp's the swamp. And who wants to live there with alligators?
Samia: No, no, no, no. Drain the swamp meaning, get the big money out of Washington.
Anne: Oh, okay. I was like, to me, you say swamp, I think of alligators and Appalachia, and when you…
Samia: It’s a symbolic swamp.
Samia: Basically saying that the Clintons are in bed with big business.
Anne: So is he.
Samia: I know, right? They would bring all this corruption and what have you, into Washington. So that was a big thing that he campaigned on, that he was gonna get the big business, and the billionaires out of Washington. And then he hired the richest cabinet of advisors in history.
Samia: Not draining the swamp at all, but rather adding to it. But that doesn't sound like something that was on your radar.
Anne: I guess I didn't hear it or I wasn’t—not paying attention to it. I was just kinda like, to me, the swamp, like, I told you what I thought it was. I'm more of a literal person. To me, the swamp's what is in Louisiana, and you don't…
Anne: He's big business, too. So if you're big business, then what are you gonna do with all of your businesses? That's money. So he's basically making an ass of himself, so to speak.
Samia: Do you like Donald Trump? Do you, like, would you want to hang out with him? Do you think he's a likable person?
Anne: I don't want to hang out with any politicians, really. I could tell you a side note. I had to take a melatonin one night to go to sleep. I had the weirdest dream ever. I'm in the room, with President Obama was still president, and there's this cool surfer dude. Well, Obama got mad at me, because I wouldn't take a selfie with him. But I took a selfie with the cool surfer dude. And I woke up like, "What the hell?" I just remembered that, because…
Samia: Obama was mad at you ‘cause you wouldn't take a selfie with him.
Anne: I was in, like, this press room, so I was just like, "No. I'm not gonna take a selfie with you." He's like, "But I'm the President of the United States.”
Samia: What didn't you like about him? I love Obama.
Anne: I don't...I got called a racist, because I didn't vote for Obama, because like, "We needs a brother in the White House." Okay, well, we needs to learn how to talk, before you..." It was a couple of his stances that I just didn't…
Samia: What were they? Do you remember?
Anne: I know abortion was one of them. And then, that's just my...that one was before my kids, like I said, I just…something about him, I just didn't like. I don't...I can't say why I didn't like him. I just had something that I just didn't, it didn't set well with me.
Samia: But I need to know why. I'm gonna look for why. Why? What didn't sit well with you?
Anne: The back and forth. I know, the back and forth on the issues, and all this change, the change, the change, but I didn't see the change.
Samia: I mean, Donald Trump ran on a campaign of change as well.
Anne: Yeah. We have to wait to see on that, too.
Samia: The change with Barack Obama. He accomplished a lot of things that he wanted to, and a lot of things didn't happen. But he did get 16 million Americans on health insurance, who never had it before. He expanded Medicaid to cover people like close friends of mine, Dylan and Maggie, who need Medicaid so that they can get their healthcare that they desperately need. He brought the economy out of the Great Recession. He did a lot of things, and he promoted democratic values, and the idea of human rights around the globe, by taking a harder stance against authoritarian leaders from other countries. So like, that was what I liked about Obama. And I also got a sense, from just listening to him talk, that he is brilliant, thoughtful, and compassionate, which I don't get from Donald Trump.
Samia: I don't get any of those things. I don't think he's brilliant, thoughtful, or compassionate. For me, Obama is, like, a supremely likable guy. So what about him didn't sit well with you?
Anne: I know when my insurance changed, that was because of the Obamacare, and that was the only reason why I was able to finally switch to a different insurance. I was thankful on that.
Samia: It helped you.
Anne: It helped me in that aspect, that they couldn't use the pre-existing conditions against.
Samia: Right. That's…
Anne: And that was in two thousand and…eight, nine?
Anne: Ten! Ten, I think. 2010. There was some other stuff, too. I guess, think gun control is one. I’ll have to go back and think. Something about him. I just didn't get that vibe. Made me think.
Samia: Yeah. I really want to know. I really want to know what it—because now you're saying things that he did that benefitted you.
Anne: It did benefit me. But I don't know why I didn't want to vote for him. I'm trying to go back into that, going back, what, ten years ago, to figure out.
Samia: Have you always voted conservative, or voted Republican?
Anne: I've pretty much voted Republican
Samia: You've never voted for a Democratic candidate.
Anne: Not that I can remember. But I will say this. When Clinton was running, I was only 16.
Anne: And I would've voted for Bill Clinton. I thought about that. I would've voted for Bill Clinton back then.
Samia: How come?
Anne: I just like the mannerism of him, and the compassion, and the charisma.
Samia: Okay. Interesting.
Anne: And I grew up a Republican.
Samia: So I'm gonna let you search with your words for a second, so keep trying. What was it about Barack Obama that you didn't like? What are specific things? It can be policies. It can be things that he said, things about his personality.
Anne: Thinking. Another big issue was his birth certificate. I don't know if he ever issued it. I just—that was when that was going around, that they wanted him to prove he was born in Hawaii.
Samia: That was pretty much agreed upon to be a blatantly racist attack on him.
Samia: Because you really can't do anything in this country without proving your citizenship. You can't apply for a job. I mean, we have to fill out tax forms and provide proof of citizenship to get a job.
Samia: You can't get a driver's license. You can't travel. It's obvious that he was American.
Anne: Yeah, because otherwise he wouldn't be able to be a Congressman, or…
Samia: Yeah. No other president has ever been asked to prove that they were American. So it was agreed, by especially people on the liberal side, but also lots and lots of Republicans, that that was just a racially motivated attack. So do you really doubt Obama's citizenship?
Anne: No. No.
Samia: Okay, so that's not on the table. So that's not the thing.
Anne: Yeah. Yeah.
Samia: So what is the thing?
Anne: I don't know. I'm just trying to like…he started off like, no one heard of him, and then all of a sudden he's running for president. My thing is, is where have you been? And he was a Congressman, or something, for Chicago? That—
Samia: He was a senator.
Anne: Senator. Okay.
Samia: He was a junior senator. He's an open book. Like, you can go and look at his whole life. It's all out there. So what was the issue?
Anne: I'm trying to...
Samia: I can see that you're stretching, trying to find things now.
Anne: Yeah, I’m trying. I don't really know. That’s interesting, I'm trying to think. I'm pondering.
Samia: I'm really curious. I mean, I can understand finding somebody likable or not likable. Just like, this seems like my kind of people. This seems like not my kind of people.
Anne: But I think more because it was Sarah Palin running, and I wanted more like, you said, a woman. I wanted that—
Anne: —woman influence, even though she would've been vice president. It was more of the, having a woman runningmate. Had he had Hillary—I probably would've voted for him if he would’ve had Hillary as his running mate.
Samia: So you want to see more women in the White House, too.
Anne: I would love to see more women in the White House, because we're multi-managers. I mean, I have—I work a 12-hour shift. I have four kids, two under two. I multitask all day long. I do four appointments in one day, and my husband's like, "How do you do this?" I'm like...
Samia: Yeah. You're a baller.
Anne: We need, and that's why I think I would've probably voted for, if he had a woman.
Samia: But then, when there was a woman running for president, you voted for the man talking about grabbing women by the pussy, so what's the …
Anne: Yes, I just—yeah. I just...Hillary just—her stances on the certain issues, with the, that we've already …
Samia: Abortion and gun control.
Anne: Abortion, and Benghazi, and the emails, and the stuff like that. That was more of the...
Samia: I want you to give this some more thought. It's gonna be a while before this episode comes out. And I would like to get either a phone call with you later, where you're like—
Anne: A followup.
Samia: You know what, this is what it was. Or a written statement in an email.
Samia: Because I'm really curious. I find Barack Obama to be so authentic. And I could be being naïve. He is a politician, after all, and it does take a certain amount of narcissism to want to be President of the United States.
Anne: Yeah. Of the United States.
Samia: But I really, I trust him. As a human being, I think he really cares about people, and compassion, and the values that I have. And I don't get that from Donald Trump. So I really—I‘m really curious. I want that answer from you eventually.
Samia: Any final questions, Anne?
Anne: No. I've had fun.
Samia: Okay good. I have a final question for you. Do you have...are your friends, your social circles mostly conservatives, or liberals, or people like you, who kind of approach it from issue by issue?
Anne: Issue to issue.
Anne: I have some that are strong conservatives, some that are liberal. Some are unitarian, the other…
Anne: Libertarian. The ones that want the Green Party. Thanksgiving and Christmas are real interesting.
Samia: Do most of the people you know vote one way or the other, or was it a mixed bag?
Anne: It was a mixed bag, and usually we didn't talk about it. We just kinda kept it as, we know how each other are. We didn't want to stir up turmoil or trouble.
Anne: We just kinda, like, kept it...
Samia: Keep it socially peaceful.
Anne: Low-key. Yeah.
Samia: Have you encountered any prejudice against you for the way you voted?
Anne: Oh yes. Yeah.
Samia: Okay. Tell me about that, and then we're gonna wrap this.
Anne: It's like, I hate women, because you voted for Trump.
Samia: People have said that you hate women.
Anne: You hate women. What about you? You’re not for your own sex? You're okay with the homo—the—the—
Anne: —misogyny, and the sex talk. And I'm like…and it’s just more like—and it's the same thing, going back to the Obama question. I was called a racist for not voting for him. So either way you vote, I'm…
Samia: Who are these people who are saying these things to you?
Anne: Oh they’re like—where I work with predominately African American people. So I was called racist for not voting for him. And with Trump, I kinda just kept it. I didn't say who I voted for, just because I didn't want…
Samia: Yeah. Did that hurt?
Anne: I just blew it off. For me, it doesn't hurt, because I know I'm not racist. I've got black, white people, all kinds of friends, so I just chalked it up to that's how…
Samia: And what about the accusation that you hate women, or that you're somehow—
Anne: I just look at them like, "Really? I hate women because of... " I just kinda like, ‘cause where I work, I hear a lot of stuff, so it just goes in.
Samia: And how do you feel about Donald Trump's history on the way he's talked to and about women?
Anne: I don't necessarily like it, but I can understand, growing up in the South, that's the good ole boy. That's locker room talk. Not to use the cliché “boys will be boys,” but it’s just…
Samia: You know his ex-wife Ivana, accused him of rape, in their divorce.
Samia: You said that you were a survivor of assault.
Samia: Like, how does...do you just not believe her, or…
Anne: No. It's just like, for me, money’ll make anything go away.
Samia: Yeah. But do you feel comfortable with the idea that we've got a president whose ex-wife said he raped her?
Anne: Not really, but it's...I guess it's all back to what we voted, but then the Electoral College ultimately decides who's president.
Samia: They vote based on the votes of the people though, so, I mean, for you, does there—
Anne: I mean, personally, I feel a little on guard, but right now it's four years, so we have four years of him, and then—
Samia: Did you know about—
Anne: I didn't. That's news to me. I didn't know that.
Samia: You didn't know that Ivana Trump accused him of rape.
Anne: No. No.
Samia: I'm gonna send you that, too.
Samia: I might try a little bit to change your mind on some things. [laughs] But not in this podcast.
Samia: And I also welcome, if you have things that you would like me to read, or listen to, I welcome that. And we can start a dialogue—
Samia: —where we exchange ideas, if you're into it.
Anne: That's fine. I listen to a lot of talk radio.
Samia: Oh cool. Who do you listen to?
Anne: Joe Pags, Michael Berry, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh. Like, mostly your Fox conservatives.
Samia: Do you get most of your news from Fox?
Anne: I do a lot of research. If I see something posted, I go fact-check it, and…
Samia: You do?
Anne: I, you know, you just can't post anything on Facebook. You need to make sure what you're reading is legitimately…instead of sharing.
Samia: Yeah. How do you feel about news outlets like the Washington Post, and the New York Times?
Anne: I've heard a lot, like a lot of the, like I listen to, that they just fabricate stories, like the one that he body-slammed that reporter that just came out.
Samia: That happened.
Anne: But did he body…
Samia: Did you hear the audio?
Anne: I heard the audio, but I don't know if he body-slammed him, or…
Samia: Certainly sounds like Gianforte, the Montana Congressman, who just won the election in spite of that.
Anne: Yeah. He won re-election in spite of…
Samia: It sounded like he attacked that reporter. I mean, perhaps the reporter was making a nuisance of himself, but that's what reporters do.
Samia: That's what they're supposed to do.
Anne: But I listen to a lot, and now, a lot of them. Some voted for Trump, which I know they voted for Trump. They said it. The other ones didn't vote for Trump.
Samia: The Fox News…
Samia: The guys you listen to.
Anne: Michael Berry. Yeah, they didn't tell. He goes, "I'm not voting for Trump." But he didn't say who he voted for. But I know like, Joe Pags voted for Trump, and he'll...
Samia: I met Sean Hannity. I was in a wedding band, that did his, I think it was his niece's wedding, and it was at his house in Long Island.
Samia: And he was really, really nice. I disagree with everything that man says. Everything. I really don't like the way he talks on his show. But in person, he was a really nice guy. And you know, part of the thing is, is that these people are entertainers.
Samia: You know, they have to hold an audience. Fox News is a news network that was built solely to reflect back the opinions of conservative America. I want to talk to you again when some more time has passed, and see if any of your opinions have changed. And I would like to start an informational exchange, as well.
Anne: That's fine.
Samia: All right. Great. Anne, thank you so much.
Anne: Thank you.
Samia: This has been a great conversation.
SAMIA VO: I did check back with Anne to see if she had anything to add about why she didn’t like Obama, and she said, “I just felt he didn't like Texas or gun owners. Very cocky. I felt he divided the country instead of bringing us together.” I asked her why she felt he didn’t like gun owners. She said, “By blaming the guns instead of the person behind the weapon. Guns don't kill people any more than a spoon makes someone fat. Just because we have high powered rifles doesn't mean we're going to go massacre people or shoot up buildings and things like that.”
The only problem with that outlook is the wealth of research evidence, from studies using all kinds of methodologies, that all point to a relationship between the number of guns in a society and the number of gun-related fatalities and other incidents of gun violence. The studies that we have don’t prove causation—or that guns are the direct cause of the increase in gun violence—but the fact that there are so many different studies that consistently show a link between the two has led most researchers to say that the number of guns in a country is a risk factor for higher rates of gun death.
And the numbers are especially strong when you look at the number one cause of death by firearm: suicide. Anne said she lost her father to suicide by gun—a shocking, awful thing for anyone to have to go through—and that her position on guns still hasn’t changed. But the research we have makes the strongest case for the relationship between gun availability and successful suicide attempts. We have about twice as many gun suicides in the U.S. than we do gun homicides, and that includes mass shootings. There is so much evidence showing that lack of access to guns translates to a much lower suicide rate, because firearms are so much more lethal than other suicide methods. If you took them away, more people who attempt suicide wouldn’t succeed.
And Anne’s assertion that her father could have just gone to the store and bought a gun if none had been available at home? Heartbreakingly, that doesn’t stand up to the data we have either. Suicide attempts are often carried out impulsively, without a ton of planning in advance. It’s been well documented by researchers that the more obstacles stand in the way of a person carrying out a suicide attempt, the less likely they are to go through with it. Obstacles like having to actually go purchase a gun at a store, instead of having one readily available in your own home.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. I spent all weekend compiling all the evidence for you to peruse at your leisure—although, I warn you, it’s pretty depressing reading. For all the best research we currently have on the relationship between gun control and human death, check out the Show Notes for this episode at www.makeamericarelatepodcast.com.
On a much lighter note, I am opening a show—a musical!—this week, right here in New York City, and to make it so I don’t lose my mind, I’m going to be bringing you a bonus episode next week. The bonus show will feature a conversation Anne and I had with our mutual friend Marsha right after we finished our interview. Marsha considers herself a moderate, but on most issues, she swings to the left. Like me, she voted for Hillary Clinton. The reason I think the three-way conversation is going to be interesting to you, dear listeners, is that in the midst of it, Anne asked Marsha what the big deal about “white privilege” is. She’s white and she’s never felt like she had any advantages in life because of it.
Marsha teaches diversity classes at a university, and she’s black. She knows what she’s talking about when it comes to white privilege, and the way she explained it to Anne was incredible. The way Anne received the information was nothing short of inspiring. We can all learn something from it.
A quick plug for listeners in New York City who love live theater—if you want to see me do my thing on stage, come see the musical I’m in! It’s really, really good! It’s called The Fourth Messenger, and it’s a gorgeous story of humanity at its best and worst that will literally make you laugh and cry. I star — whaaa? — alongside Broadway’s Nancy Anderson, a woman of absolutely breathtaking talent. The show is about a modern day Buddha figure, played by Nancy, and a young reporter on a mission to expose her (that’s me). It’s an incredible show, with a glorious score by indie music darling Vienna Teng and book and lyrics by the brilliant Tanya Shaffer. We open tonight—Tuesday, July 18—and we have shows Thursday through Sunday, July 20th through the 23rd, at the Acorn Theater in Manhattan. I highly recommend you check it out if you love good, original theater. More info at www.thefourthmessenger.com.
If you’re loving the show, please, with all the cherries on top, leave us a 5-star review on iTunes or Apple Podcasts. Your reviews make all the difference in the world when it comes to getting the show out to a wider audience, and it’s good karma, and I’ll love you forever for it.
Many squishy loving thanks to Andrew Guastella for sweetening up the interview audio, Christopher Gilroy for editing it all together and mixing it down, and Douglass Recording in Brooklyn for letting me use their gorgeous studio to record my intro and outro segments.
This has been Make America Relate Again. See you next week.