Although I'd started working in gun shops back in '93 or so, it wasn't until 2001 that I started doing any serious collecting. Soon I had sold off all the assorted effluvia I had bought over the years except for a handful of "working guns" and was focusing on collecting S&W revolvers and older military rifles. I was now no longer a "shooting hobbyist", I was a "gun collector" which is a different kettle of fish entirely.
While the shooting hobbyist may accumulate a couple of guns that interest them, for the most part the guns are utilized for shooting, not just for having. Rarely is there any particular level of obsession involved, either: They shoot and golf and tend vegetable gardens and have other hobbies. A serious collector, on the other hand, appears a little touched in the head to the outsider. The same gene that causes someone to fill their house with ceramic frogs, build a perfect O-gauge replica of the Topeka switchyards in their attic, or have a basement that looks like a Radio Shack delivery truck overturned in a broadcast studio is at work when grown adults quibble over the internet as to whether it's properly called the ".32 Single Action" or the "Model 1-1/2 Top Break".
Getting into collecting exposed me to a whole new kind of hobbyist. While my collection may seem large to those who do not collect, it isn't a patch on many I've seen. This is a hobby that is, due to its very nature, populated by folks with fairly serious levels of disposable income. Mostly older and mostly professionals, I have met doctors, lawyers, judges, and engineers, all equally enthusiastic about their particular niche of the hobby. Vintage Colts, old Winchesters, American martial arms; if it can be collected, there's someone out there collecting it.
It was pretty amusing, then, to be pointed at a Reuters piece that seemed to express surprise that normal people, not just "urban criminals and drug dealers", collected guns. Frankly, I can't see an "urban criminal" getting excited about finding the right bayonet to go with his Brazilian M1908/34 Mauser or a "drug dealer" painstakingly finding the proper Mark Twain book to serve as a prop in a photo of her newly-acquired 19th Century revolver (unless by "drug dealer" they meant "pharmacist"). Leave it to a reporter to get into a hand-wringing tizzy about harmless old duffers and their eccentric hobbies.
Thankfully, NRAhab saved me some trouble by giving the subtle hit piece the fisking it so richly deserves.