After the horrific shooting in Alexandria, VA this week, which left House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) in critical condition—there will be a discussion about guns in America again. James Hodgkinson, a Bernie Sanders supporter with a history of anti-GOP sentiments, opened fire on the Republican baseball team that was practicing a day before their annual charity game against the Democrats. Congressional staffers and members of the Capitol Police, whose engagement with Hodgkinson saved lives, were also wounded. Blessedly, Rep. Scalise is doing much better.
On the gun control debate, I’ll extend an olive branch. There are times when the left sort of makes sense about guns. For example, I think we can agree that terrorists should not get their hands on firearms, or at least make it hard for them to do so. Where they go off the hinges is when they try to use that argument to expand the grossly unconstitutional no-fly list program and bar Americans, who haven’t been convicted of any crimes, from being able to exercise their Second Amendment rights. How do you get on the list? How can you get your name removed from it? We don’t know. There’s really no due process. And then, there’s Salon’s analysis of the shooting, which gets into this analysis of how gun marketing is linked to “right-wing male power fantasies,” and how Republicans won’t change their minds about gun control. I know, spoiler alert, right? [Emphasis mine]:
The gun industry and the National Rifle Association market guns with promises that owning guns will make a customer feel manly and powerful, and that fantasy has a power that can transcend political boundaries. And no one knows better than gun industry leaders how feelings of political frustration caused by seeing your preferred candidate lose an election can be channeled into a pitch to buy more guns.
Gun marketing, helped along by the political messaging of the NRA, , is targeted largely at conservatives. That said, the emotional buttons being pushed — the wish to feel powerful, the desire to prove one’s masculinity, the appeal of violence as a political shortcut — cannot be contained by something as pedestrian as political partisanship. Through years of marketing and cultural messaging, the appeal of guns has been crafted into something totemic, even primal — desired by all manner of people who yearn for some kind of cleansing violence to solve their problems.
Around the time of Trump’s inauguration, a debate emerged in leftist circles about the value of political violence, particularly after an anonymous person punched white supremacist Richard Spencer in the face on camera on Inauguration Day. While I strongly relate to the desire to lash out at people who would dismantle our democracy in the name of white nationalism, I’ve been persuaded by friends and allies, especially journalist Dave Neiwert of the Southern Poverty Law Center, that political violence is always a bad idea. Not only is it wrong but it tends to backfire, creating the pretext for the violent suppression of liberal or leftist ideas.
Already there are right-wing street gangs forming, eagerly looking for an excuse to lash out against anyone they perceive as being on the left. Already there’s been a shooting of a left-leaning protester — who by all accounts was trying to restore peace — by right-wingers who seemed to be out for blood. Already two men have been killed, and a third was badly injured by an unhinged reactionary and white supremacist who claims he was acting in self-defense because the three men tried to interfere with his verbal assault on two women of color. There is every reason to believe that the baying alt-right wolves cannot wait to use this shooting as an excuse to escalate their efforts at using violence to quell liberal dissent.
And when it comes to the Republicans, sadly there is no reason to believe they will react to this dreadful crime by rethinking their resistance to saner gun control laws that could go a long way toward minimizing the amount of damage that people disposed to carrying out violence can do. Despite watching their friends and colleagues running away from a hail of gunfire, Republican politicians and pundits are sticking with the thoughts-and-prayers narrative and not even discussing taking steps to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.
The socialist writer Upton Sinclair had a saying he liked to trot out at public events: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”
Yeah, if you’re going to make at least a half-assed attempt to convince the right about something, don’t quote socialists. Second, the white supremacist that killed two men in Portland during his berating of two Muslim women on a train was, like Hodgkinson, a Bernie Sanders supporter. Also, I’ve never really seen the NRA market firearm ownership as one that will make you powerful and manly, only that it’s your right enshrined in the Constitution, that it’s a great equalizer for women when facing a potential life-threatening situation, and they’re to be used safely and responsibly. They tell kids what to do if they see an unattended firearm. How to handle them properly when shooting them at the range, and they offer concealed carry courses for law-abiding Americans who wish to carry firearms for their own protection. Liberals always cite statistics about how firearms increase the likelihood of fatal accidents. That’s false. Between 1991-2011, unintentional firearm fatalities dropped 58 percent, according to the National Safety Council. Only 1.5 percent of unintentional deaths of children 14 years of age or younger is attributed to a firearm. In 2017, unintentional firearms fatalities dropped 17 percent between2015-2016. Also, was that the insinuation that political violence is wrong, but especially bad because…leftist ideas could be squashed?
The piece added, “The NRA’s stories about how scary black and brown men are about to bust down your door and kill your family are good for selling guns, but they were the also same narratives that helped propel Trump to the White House.” Oh, and again with the psychoanalysis stuff, “Fears of emasculation, racist anxieties about crime, power fantasies about silencing dissent through threats of violence, and a widespread loathing for liberals and their insistence on rational evidence — all these things sell guns.”
What stories are these? I’ve rarely seen Dana Loesch or Colion Noir discuss how people of color are going to kill us all in their media spots for the NRA? As a proud member of the NRA, I have yet to get a piece of literature, mailer, door hanger, or email where the oldest civil rights organization in the country said I need to be fearful of brown people, so buy guns. It’s mostly been about how Democrats’ anti-gun policies hurt innocent people (i.e. Chicago), how the no-fly list is being used as an unconstitutional backdoor to curb gun rights, how the Second Amendment is fundamental to preserving our freedoms as Americans, how the liberal media distorts and at times-outright lies about shootings to further an anti-gun agenda. I think Salon has the NRA mixed up with the American Nazi Party, which had posted horrific and racist stories on their website about black people killing whites. It frankly was not the most enjoyable part of my junior year seminar in high school.
I may not have supported President Trump in the primaries, but he touted fairer trade deals, job creation, being a warrior of the working class, and positioned himself to be a cheerleader for the country. On the latter, Obama failed spectacularly. He had a message, he was an outsider, he was fresh, and we elected him. Not a day goes by where I don’t regret my vote for him; Hillary Clinton is not, and never will be, president. Sorry Never Trumpers, that’s what was key to me. Stopping Clinton.
I’ve shot with and spoken to scores of gun owners and they don’t fear emasculation, they don’t have power fantasies, and they’re not racist. This is pure unadulterated crap and when liberal media personalities think that Trump has a dark vision of America, please direct them to Salon. You’d think we’ve entered some post-apocalyptic era akin to The Postman. Gun owners, who number in the tens of millions, are law-abiding, patriotic Americans who proudly exercise their right to bear arms. They’re good guys with guns. Period. There’s nothing to be afraid. Also, the police officers who stopped Hodgkinson are good guys with guns. The people who stopped the two escaped Georgia inmates who murdered two correctional officers are good guys with guns. In Vermont, at least 70 percent of residents own a firearm. Are they all part of a right-wing male power fantasy orgy? Are they racist? Do they fear black men breaking into their homes? Are they really loathing of liberalism having elected a self-described democratic socialist to represent them in the U.S. Senate? Yeah, no—it’s none of the above. Anti-gun analysis like this is nothing more than dispatches from the progressive cesspool of urban America.