Project Appleseed seeks middle ground in heated gun debate

In a basement classroom of the Westside Rifle and Pistol Range, near the Flatiron Building in New York City, students are being given a lesson in early American History. It has a lot to do with guns.

There are 14 students in the classroom, seven women and seven men. The students have paid less than the price of an average New York dinner to spend three hours together, to learn how to shoot a small caliber rifle and take a rose-tinted walk through the history of the founding of the United States.

This is Project Appleseed, created by the Revolutionary War Veterans Association, dedicated to spreading the art of rifle marksmanship and its place in American history. The group describes its mission as a bulwark against “American ignorance and apathy.” It speaks volumes about the nature of Appleseed volunteers that the group doesn’t descend into some thinly veiled, well-armed Tea Party propaganda machine.

For an hour, instructor Dan Boyle walks the group through a fractured history of the American Revolutionary War. The group discusses the Minutemen and Paul Revere, as well as the Boston Massacre (“How do we know a British soldier fired the first shot? Because he missed!”) The group talks about self-reliance and the evolution of guns and rifles over the past 200 years, and Boyle explains the component parts of a model .22 rifle that he holds in his hands.

“The first step is to be honest about what a gun is,” says Dan. “When people say, ‘It’s just a tool,’ that’s a bit disingenuous in my opinion.”

One student, the wife of another attendee, explains that while she is terrified of the power of guns, her husband wants to buy one and she wants to learn more before they make the purchase. She is exactly, Boyle points out, the kind of person Project Appleseed is trying to reach.

What Appleseed is about, beyond the history lesson and target practice, is “personal responsibility.”

For Boyle, that responsibility lays with gun owners. It’s how he can point a rifle at zombie target posters in the basement — often referred to as stand-ins for liberals within the community of extreme Second Amendment supporters — without betraying the ideals that brought him here to teach in the first place.

“I find the whole zombie thing in poor taste,” said Boyle. “It impersonalizes the other side. It’s absolutely threatening to people who don’t agree with you, these pro-Second Amendment guys who stand around talking about how ‘Liberalism is a disease,’ and then in the next breath talk about zombies. It’s not difficult to make the connection. I mean, what are we talking about? We’re talking about killing our neighbors. I find it embarrassing.”

Project Appleseed, and events like it, represents the closest thing to a middle ground in the gun debate that there is in the country right now. It’s a place where the debate can be stripped of some of its caustic rhetoric and returned to something approaching rational conversation as novices learn about the pros and cons of gun ownership.

“Liberty taken to the extreme is not a good thing,” Boyle said to the class, laying out what might be Project Appleseed’s most important lesson of all. “We are not ‘armed,’ the Second Amendment not withstanding, against our government with weapons. What we are armed with is information and the vote.”

He added, before dismissing the class, “If you ignore your rights, they’ll go away.”




News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

Libya seeks ceasefire as south Tripoli a militia…

By Patrick Markey and Aziz El YaakoubiTRIPOLI (Reuters) - Black plumes of smoke marked shell blasts and bulldozed earthen barricades mapped out the frontlines around…

Breaking: News

Russia mad about sanctions, says U.S. contributing to…

Russia reacted angrily on Saturday to additional sanctions imposed by the European Union over Moscow's role in the Ukraine crisis, saying they would hamper cooperation…

National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.