Emiotke, thanks for your kind words. I may not have succeeded in articulating just how hard it was for me to cross the line and take part in this "exploration."
And you're spot-on about Chicago. I used to live in Chicago and as background for this article, interviewed a second amendment scholar who grew up in South Side Chicago. He told me this--it makes him sick how many kids are dying in Chicago, how many kids end up selling drugs because it seems like their only option. His solution: legalize marijuana, stop the drug war, and invest that money in fixing their schools, bolstering social services. He said, "What I think we should try to do is shrink the illegal world so that people don't live in an illegal world and that there is not great advantage to using firearms for illegal purposes."
It was quite a shock to talk to a staunch defendant of second amendment rights and be told we should legalize weed and increase funding to social services. That, if nothing else had been, was a reminder that people can have complex allegiances and perspectives.