Heading toward a Starbucks on the pricey side of town, Rob Farago is packing. The Glock 30SF lives on his right hip, holstered under his jacket, with 10 rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber. Backup ammo is in another pocket.
Farago didn’t used to be a gun guy. He was a car guy. He had a popular blog called the Truth About Cars. He sold it in 2009 and searched for a new consumer topic, landing on guns.
He bought his first gun a week before the debut of TheTruthAboutGuns.com. He took a firearms class. He filled out the paperwork and went through the background check to get a permit to carry a gun. He now owns 18 guns.
“Once you put a gun on, you gain situational awareness,” he says. After he bought his first gun, he says, “I felt grown up. It was like a coming-of-age thing. I felt like an adult.”
Farago talks of the visceral pleasure of firing a gun. There is the moment before, and the moment after. Time slows. It almost stops.
“It’s a Zen thing,” he says. “You can control time down to that 1/1,000th of a second.”
But there are other visceral emotions in New England these days. There’s horror. There’s revulsion. There’s gut-churning pain. No one can talk about guns, not even the gun rights people, without reference to what happened in December in Newtown, Conn. This past week, parents of slain first-graders at Sandy Hook Elementary School testified in gun-control hearings at the State Capitol in Connecticut. One mother said of her slain son, “He lies forever motionless in the earth.”
New York state has already tightened its ban on assault weapons and limited ammunition magazines to seven rounds. Just a couple of miles from Farago’s house, the Rhode Island legislature is considering gun-control laws just as tight as those in New York.
Farago wants to move to Texas, which is more gun-friendly than Rhode Island. But in the meantime, his blog is going gangbusters. Page views have spiked since the massacre in Newtown and the resulting push for gun control.
There’s a run across the country on ammo, and on military-style semiautomatic rifles. The gun rights advocates have long feared that the government would come after their firearms. They’re in the fight of their lives. They’re geared up, on high alert and situationally aware.
Farago, 53, lives in an elegant house on the east side of town. He drives a Mercedes. He’s got an exquisite art collection. He has beautiful Persian rugs. Before he takes his miniature schnauzers on a walk in his upscale neighborhood, he fits them with doggie parkas.
His parents were major art benefactors, and his mother donated a huge collection of works to a fine arts museum in Boston. She’s a liberal who doesn’t like his new interest in guns and won’t let him discuss the subject at family gatherings. He says his father, who died three years ago, cherished his Second Amendment rights, but now Rob is the only gun person in his family.
Farago (fa-RAH-go) has been through many transitions. Years ago he worked for CNN as a cameraman and producer. He lived for a while in England, freelancing articles. He’s twice divorced, with two grown kids from the first marriage and a 9-year-old daughter, who lives with him, from the second. He speaks often of his desire to be a protective father, to keep the child safe in a dangerous world.
He doesn’t have a job, other than the blog, and he pays a managing editor to run it hour to hour. He had almost 7 million page views in January. He says the blog just breaks even financially, but he has made good investments and is financially secure.
When he’s interested in dating someone, he mentions early on that he has a firearms blog, just in case it’s a deal-breaker. One time he took a woman to the firing range on a first date. She was a lousy shot and didn’t enjoy the experience. So that didn’t work out.
“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.