This topic keeps coming up in the United States and it is always controversial, though it shouldn’t be (either coming up or controversial). Of course, the topic is guns. I ended up approaching the topic several times over the past few years. Whenever it comes up on social media, it always elicits a wide variety of responses. I’m going to touch on several aspects of it, I think. Tonight, I was talking with a friend and we approached an interested aspect of the topic of guns, gun control, and the United States.
This friend lived in Argentina during the Dirty War. If you need background on the Dirty War and the events that preceded and proceeded it, check out Wikipedia or whatever. It’s not really the topic here, though I do understand that perceptions and understandings of history in the United States are a bit twisted, if even existent. I will touch on some of that in a bit.
We were talking about why the Conservatives in the United States are against gun control and the “Lefties” are supportive of gun control. It’s basically the opposite of everywhere else in the world. I think I know why.
There is the issue that the so-called “Left” in the United States is about as far left as conservatives in Western Europe. The CDU in Germany and the Democrats in the United States seem to agree with more than they disagree with on most social, economic, and political issues. But I think it’s more than that. I even don’t engage in violent rhetoric in regard to social revolution. And it’s not just because I fear legal repercussions. I actually think it is not a wise course of action.
So, why do the conservatives support mass ownership of firearms and social proliferation of firearms? It’s rather complicated itself. One real cause is the gun manufacturing lobbyists and groups like the NRA that evoke emotional appeals to gain support for consumption of firearms. They play on fear of immigrants, fear of minorities, fear of criminals, all types of fear, to keep the people armed.
I think there is more to it, as well. We see quite frequently that the gun lobbyists like to evoke leaders they consider to be horrible in an attempt to draw correlation between travesty and gun control. The most obvious is Hitler. I recently saw a meme that claimed that Mao Zedong had banned guns ten years before the Cultural Revolution. I guess that’s what happens when you want to make a claim about historical events without actually knowing the historical events.
The truth is that the Nazi Party did not disarm the population. They disarmed “others.” They armed “the people.” The intent was to arm the people in an attempt to keep the socialists, Marxists, and unwashed masses at bay. It was a way to keep people that were not in the in-group in a constant state of fear.
When we hear about Second Amendment rights in the United States, there’s a semiotic implication that is often ignored or overlooked: It only applies to White Americans. There was a recent video of two men in the same city practicing their legal right to “open carry.” The caveat is that one man was White and another was Black. In the video, we see the White man with the same firearm approached by an officer and questioned about his carrying of a weapon. Then we see the Black man forced to lay on the ground, give up his firearm, and a swarm of law enforcement vehicles arrive.
If we pair this with the death of John Crawford in a Walmart, it presents a whole picture that is striking. John Crawford was shopping in a Walmart in Ohio. Surveillance footage shows him pick up a pellet gun in the Walmart. He then carries it, possibly for purchase, while he continues to go shopping. What we don’t see in the footage is that another customer called the police and said there was a Black man pointing a gun at people (or something like that). We see on the surveillance footage that Crawford was looking at items on a shelf when police entered the store and shot him to death. Crawford appears confused and disoriented before being killed. This is understandable when you are merely shopping and confronted with people pointing loaded weapons at you.
The picture this paints is that the “Second Amendment supporters” are actually much more like the reactionary movements of the past than those trying to curb gun ownership. The fact also remains that guns are just as much a threat by existence as much as they are a weapon of harm. The fact that so many people are so vocally boisterous, carrying around Gadsden and Confederate Flags and shouting about their rights to dominate makes them terrifying.
This brings up why the Left in the United States is often not very “pro-gun.” I think there are several reasons, but primarily it is just bad strategy. There is the legal aspect. I don’t want to be incarcerated for advocating violence. That may be the primary reason I do not advocate such a thing. But it is not the only reason. There is also the normative argument, that it is wrong to harm other people. But this is not the whole of it, either.
Strategically, it is counter productive. First, there is an alienating aspect of violence. Those who are victims of it seldom adhere to your cause. (You don’t win allies by harming them.) Second, the opposition is more powerful. The dominant hegemony controls the most powerful military in the world and majority of the media. Acting violently will either get any movement killed, or completely discredited.
There is no hope for an armed, revolutionary movement from the Left in the United States. It would be counter-productive at a high cost. It is just wrong to harm others in a lost cause. The people would not support such a movement and it is also a lost cause. Instead, it would just provide justification for stronger repression.
I heard people talking about arming the Black population in response to the prevalence of the shooting and killing of Black males in the United States. Strategically, this is a mistake. If the police are already shooting and killing unarmed Black males, if they are armed, there’s less of a justification for outrage. The “he said/she said” argument becomes more tenuous. If the victim has a gun, the perpetrator has more justification for claiming to be scared of imminent danger. If it was well known that Black people are armed, then Zimmerman would have better justification in his killing of Trayvon Martin. There would have been a more reasonable doubt as to Zimmerman being afraid for his life – instead of it being that he didn’t want to get beat up by a Black teenager.
If leftists were known to be organized and armed, the system could more legitimately claim they are a threat to society and eliminate them through lethal means. In this way, armed rebellion is counter-productive, strategically. It ultimately provides more justification for stronger counter-measures.
And to that end, where were the “open carry protesters” for John Crawford? Where were they for Tamir Rice? Where were they for any Black man killed in such a way? Nowhere. Because ultimately, they want their guns to protect themselves from the non-Whites and “others.”
Many people point out that “rag tag rebels” fought against massive militaries in Vietnam, Afghanistan, etc. What they are discounting is the support these groups had locally and the support they had externally. The Vietnamese rebels were fighting for an end to occupation by colonial forces and supplied by the People’s Republic with arms and strategy. Any left movement in the United States has neither of these things. Basically, they would be attempting to force their ideology on a society with arms, facing a tremendous amount of military force.
Which brings up the whole “we need guns to protect against government tyranny” thing. It’s illegal to use firearms against the government. It always has been. It is treason. Insurrections are not Constitutionally protected. And the same people that believe this is a possibility complain about a government with drones, special strike teams, etc. The level of training required to be able to even survive against a military with unmanned drones and Navy SEAL teams would be tremendous. And then it brings you back to the question, “to what end?”
The issue then becomes what is the rationale for this armed society? It also brings out the true reasons for such adamant support of “Second Amendment Rights.”
One reason reactionaries are unable to properly parse this is because of their inability to acknowledge economic oppression. The NRA is largely funded by corporations. Most of the talking points of the NRA to keep the ability for massive amounts of firearm consumption supports the industries that produce these weapons. It’s about profits. It’s part of the inherent conflict between liberalism and capitalism. The masses are coerced through propaganda to support their oppressors – to economically support a few elites by purchasing their commodities. The gun manufacturers are basically arms dealers. They know that every gun purchased by a criminal was a gun manufactured and sold legally. They have no intent of stopping this proliferation of firearms because it inhibits their bottom line. The gun rights advocates are pawns of the arms dealers. It’s a sad reality. They are willing to see the regular harm to fellow citizens to protect the profits of the elites. It’s the most egregious form we see of capitalism and exploitation of the working class.
To mobilize the gun rights advocates to support their profit margins, the gun lobbyists invoke fear. They frame it in terms of freedom and liberty, but make no mistake, it’s about fear. Fear of “others.” There’s a few things we see in the way this manifests.
The “Good Guy with a gun” vs the “bad guy with a gun” topic is strategically flawed on a number of reasons. Really, it’s just bad game theory. The aggressor always has the advantage. This means the “bad guy with a gun” always has the advantage. The best protection against the bad guy with a gun is to relegate him to just a “bad guy” with a less lethal weapon.
What makes the “good guy” a “good guy” is their unwillingness to indiscriminately kill. They seek to assess the situation and not to harm innocents. The “bad guy” doesn’t care. In this way, the bad guy will always have an advantage over the good guy. To that end, the only way in which a “good guy” can have the advantage is to live in a state of high alert and hypervigilance.
Then we have to ask what kind of “freedom” we want where we have to live in a hypervigilant state. What it really comes down to is living in a constant state of fear. But don’t dare point that out to the gun enthusiasts. They will vehemently deny that they live in fear. “I sleep well with my 40 calibre Glock.” They are unwilling to even see that their need to sleep with a firearm is a symbolic representation of their fear.
This fear also has the typical semiotic inference of racism and xenophobia that we see in reactionary propaganda. They will never come out and admit publicly that they are afraid of Black people and Latinos. But that’s basically what it becomes. We see time and time again that the same people that go on with their “Second Amendment” propaganda are the same one screaming about the “dangers of illegal immigrants” and the “threat of violent gangs of thugs.” The same people that were not outraged when John Crawford was shot and killed in Ohio but were outraged when a White man was stopped by airport security for carrying a firearm in an airport (while the rest of us are probed, patted down, and forced to remove our shoes looking for weapons, how dare they question this White American carrying a firearm in an airport?!)
This brings us full circle. Why is the Left anti-gun and the Right pro-gun when it’s traditionally been the opposite? It’s simple. Because the Right wants to proliferate this society with weapons to increase their profits and keep the Left from being able to create any significant gains. Those of us seeking a more equitable system, one with less exploitation, less fear, etc. are left constantly wary of the reactionaries that are armed to the teeth.
The truth is that anyone can pull the trigger on a gun. Any coward can shoot another person. People point out other weapons that can be used to kill. There’s a reason hunters use bullets and arrows to hunt. Why else would we not see people out hunting deer with a box cutter? or running them down with cars? Because it’s not the most effective way to kill. So, because anyone can load and fire a gun, we have to be vigilant of the reactionaries. We saw this with the chickenshit terrorist in Charleston, South Carolina, that gunned down 9 people doing Bible study in a church. He executed 9 people to send a message of fear to those that oppose the goal of White supremacy. He seemed to have also sought to inspire others to do the same.
And that’s what this comes down to… whenever someone speaks out against gun rights, we get inundated with gun trolls. And they reinforce the point. “You want to take away my guns? I will threaten you! That will make us all feel safer! I’m an irrational and hostile person that has a lot of guns because that’s freedom!” It serves a dual function: to generate profits and keep those advocating change from becoming too vocal.
We need to stop tip-toeing around this issue out of fear of these gun enthusiasts. Quite honestly, if they cannot handle someone disagreeing without using violence, they are just proving the point farther: their freedom to own weapons of death infringes upon the freedom of others to live peaceful lives. You want to talk about Constitutional rights? The Second Amendment was an amendment added to the Constitution. The Declaration of Independence of the United States claims:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
These rights are reiterated in the Constitution. It appears more often than not that the current interpretation of the Second Amendment violates the “right to life” and “the right to happiness.” As Jim Jeffries pointed out – You can change Amendments, that’s why they are called Amendments – and the First Amendment gives us the right to say the Second Amendment is a bunch of shit.
I’ll go over why the Second Amendment actually doesn’t mean that every citizen has the right to terrorize other citizens to compensate for their fears in another entry. The point here is that the Second Amendment being the justification of the Second Amendment is a bad argument. It’s a tautology and it’s moronic.
Reactionaries have no right to terrorize their fellow citizens into compliance. This goes farther than the Second Amendment and violates the basic tenets of living in a society.
So, here is the challenge: Present one reason why your right to own guns is not based on fear. Anyone? Can anyone do it? What reason do you need a gun that is not based on fear and benefits this society? That should be the measure we use. If something has no benefit to society, there’s no reason to keep it. That’s how we measure these things.
It’s not just the physical damage that guns cause, but the psychological damage. What kind of society do we want? One where all citizens live in a constant state of fear? One where there is a state of high anxiety? This is not just detrimental to the mental welfare of all citizens, but detrimental to the idea of democracy as well. How can we have a free sharing of ideas when people are afraid to share their perspectives? How can there be any discourse when people have to be afraid for their lives for just dissenting?
The Second Amendment enthusiasts claim they need their guns to protect them from “government tyranny.” Is it so irrational to ask the government to protect the rest of us from their tyranny?