THE ABSOLUTIST Farago takes aim.
"I'm an absolutist," Robert Farago says. "I believe that American citizens should be able to walk into a gun store, show their driving license, purchase a firearm — no background check — purchase some bullets, put the bullets into the firearm, and walk out of the store."
It's Friday afternoon and we're driving north on I-95 with a small arsenal locked in plastic cases in the trunk of his SUV: a Ruger .22 revolver, a Smith & Wesson .38-.357 revolver, a Colt 1911 semi-automatic pistol, and a Benelli M4 shotgun. Farago has two more guns on his person: a Glock 30 SF holstered to his belt and a snub-nosed, laser-sighted Smith & Wesson .38 in his pocket.
"Do you have to register your blog with the federal government?" he asks. He believes the same rules should apply to speech and guns. "Do you have to prove that you are safe before you start writing?"
It's a natural comparison for the founder, publisher, and blogger-in-chief of thetruthaboutguns.com, founded in 2010 and now billed as "the world's largest firearms blog," with over a million unique visitors per month according to its own analytics. TTAG features gear reviews and a running commentary on gun news in posts like "Guns Protect Women From Being Raped, You Idiots," and "Why People Are Over-Reacting to the Midnight Movie Massacre (Mathematically Speaking)." The site features an endorsement by Ted Nugent and the occasional dire prediction, like Farago's February 2013 post beginning, "There's no getting around it: the conflict between gun control and gun rights advocates is bound to get bloody."
One might envision him running the site out of a bunker in Nevada or Texas, headquarters is, in fact, a house on a tree-lined street on Providence's East Side, not far from Blackstone Boulevard. The site's "401" area code hotline goes straight to Farago's cell phone. Last summer, he wrote a series of "RI Open Carry" posts in which he strolled around familiar locales — the Thayer Street shopping area in Providence, the Sunshine Creamery in East Providence — chronicling the experience of packing heat in the Ocean State. "I'm not a weirdo with a gun," he wrote in a dispatch from a cigar store. "I'm a non-violent, law-abiding American who believes deeply and completely that US citizens have a Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms."
After a few minutes of driving, we arrive at our destination: a low-slung building in North Attleboro, from which muffled popping sounds drift. Today, Farago — a licensed NRA instructor — has agreed to give me a shooting lesson. We enter the building and he chats with the guys behind the counter about the current ammo shortage as I fill out consent forms and hand over my driver's license. Then Farago hands me a pair of protective goggles, a pair of ear plugs, and a pair of noise-canceling headphones before leading me into a metallic-smelling firing range. There are piles of bullet shells on the floor and wooden brooms nearby to sweep them away.