The NRA As Paranoia Vector & Neofeudalist Tool

Mark Ames, who has been writing about ‘rampage massacres‘ for the past decade, discusses Newtown and “The Hick Fascism of the NRA“:

… Until now, I have largely avoided getting dragged down into the gun control debate, in part because gun proliferation doesn’t explain why “going postal” first exploded into the culture in the late 1980s, and has worked its way into the American DNA ever since. Gun control or lack thereof doesn’t explain why these kinds of rampage shootings only appeared in the late Reagan era and spread ever since then. And there must have been my own personal prejudices too — I grew up with guns, and despite a couple of bad episodes involving guns and a drunken violent stepfather, I have a reflexive contempt for people who haven’t gone shooting and tell you that gun control laws are the answer.

Well, guess what? Their knee-jerk solution is more right than mine.

Passing gun restrictions today probably wouldn’t do much to slow down rampage massacres, at least not for awhile — but the politics of sweeping gun control laws could have a huge transformative effect over time. It’s no longer possible for me to ignore that fact.

Which means it’s also no longer possible for me to ignore the National Rifle Association, and its hick fascism politics that’ve been poisoning our culture ever since the NRA’s infamous “coup” in 1977, when the NRA was taken over by far-right fanatics led by a convicted murderer and onetime US Border Guards chief named Harlon Carter — whose previous claim to fame was when he led a massive crackdown on Mexican immigrant laborers called “Operation Wetback.” …

What the establishment didn’t get about Harlon’s new souped-up NRA gun-cult until too late — in fact what most still don’t get — is that the more batshit disconnected from demonstrable reality your message is, the more fanatical and organized-for-war your organization will be. If you can get people to make that leap of faith —well, then you’ve got real power. Reagan understood that sort of power well: Pandering to the far-right John Birch Society cult won him California’s governor’s seat in 1966, and in 1980, he promised to implement Harlon Carter’s radical pro-gun agenda as soon as he took office. Unfortunately that pro-gun push got delayed by an assassination attempt on Reagan’s life, but nearly bleeding to death didn’t change Reagan’s mind (or what passed for Reagan’s mind)…

Back then, Merwin K Hart’s gun fanaticism was an ugly freakshow popping out of the political margins, but today it part of the landscape, and the only question is how can we get rid of it, rather than what’s it doing there in the first place.

Because it’s now so deeply ingrained that owning guns is a form of radical subversive politics, the people who still engage in real politics have the pick of the litter. That first became really clear in the depths of the 2008-9 collapse, when a lot of people who thought of themselves as radicals and anarchists made a lot of feckless noise about how they were arming and preparing for the collapse and revolution. They could’ve gone out and organized something and maybe built a politics of people power or even a politics of what they call revolution, a politics that actually changed things. But instead, they locked themselves in their homes and apartments with their guns and fancied themselves political revolutionaries just waiting to be swept up. But no one came. No one bothered or cared. And really, why would any plutocrat or evil government agency bother with the suckers, all harmlessly atomized and isolated and thoroughly neutralized by the false sense of political empowerment that their guns gave them, while you do the real work of plundering budgets, bribing politicians and writing laws even more in your favor?…

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92 replies
  1. 1
    Bago says:

    You should explore and/or publicize the Mall Ninja meme. It sums up every defender of civilian ownership of assault weaponry.

  2. 2
    amk says:

    while you do the real work of plundering budgets, bribing politicians and writing laws even more in your favor?…

    and at the same time smartly brainwashing the same stupid gun nutz to vote for you and your agenda… over and over.

  3. 3
    MikeJ says:

    Wanna see something depressing? Wikipedia’s list of massacres by state.

  4. 4
    danielx says:

    Sadly enough, the reaction on the part of many gun people out there has been to run out and buy the same or a variant of the weapon used in Newtown. One of the local shops had 51 AR-15s or variants in stock on Monday; they’ve sold 51 as of yesterday.

    They could’ve gone out and organized something and maybe built a politics of people power or even a politics of what they call revolution, a politics that actually changed things. But instead, they locked themselves in their homes and apartments with their guns and fancied themselves political revolutionaries just waiting to be swept up. But no one came. No one bothered or cared. And really, why would any plutocrat or evil government agency bother with the suckers, all harmlessly atomized and isolated and thoroughly neutralized by the false sense of political empowerment that their guns gave them, while you do the real work of plundering budgets, bribing politicians and writing laws even more in your favor?…

    Although I agree with the general thrust of Ames’ comments, I have to disagree with the last portion. These folks did organize, sorta – they’re called the Tea Party.
    These are the people who showed up at various of the ACA town hall meetings carrying guns, if you recall.

  5. 5
    Emma says:

    Depressing thing to read first thing in the morning when I’m waiting for pathology results and the stress has triggered some form of sciatica so I can barely sit. But it makes sense. Everything about the puppet-masters is about the money, isn’t it?

  6. 6
    Schlemizel says:

    @Bago:

    Well, now at least I know where the idea for that dreadful Mall Cop movie came from.

    I don’t know if I should thnak you fro the morning humor or cruse you for pointing out the insanity of the world around me

  7. 7
    Linda Featheringill says:

    @Emma:

    [hug]

    I actually hope the pathology report will be totally benign but barring that, I hope it is something that can be dealt with definitively tout de suite.

    And I hope you can find comfort/relief from the sciatica while the nerve heals itself.

    We are here, though. You can talk to us. Several of us have been there and thoroughly understand.

  8. 8
    Fred says:

    Not my father’s NRA.

  9. 9
    Raven says:

    @Linda Featheringill: And my wife is struggling. Emma, be prepared for totally contradictory advice, here and where you are. I have a good friend who is a fitness guru and he said 80% of people have compressed or herniated discs. You are going to be told never to have surgery and you are going to be told that surgery saved people’s well being. My wife has had one spinal cortisone injection and it did almost nothing but hurt like hell. She goes to therapy, feels great for a while and then goes right back where she was. Good luck.

  10. 10
    Bobby Thomson says:

    They could’ve gone out and organized something and maybe built a politics of people power or even a politics of what they call revolution, a politics that actually changed things. But instead, they locked themselves in their homes and apartments with their guns and fancied themselves political revolutionaries just waiting to be swept up. But no one came. No one bothered or cared.

    Easy does it,there, big fella. That kind of talk’ll make you lose the Pennsylvania primary. Real murcans don’t like being called victims, don’t you know.

  11. 11
    kay says:

    @danielx:

    It’s a real cycle. The increased sales are driven by fear that everyone else is armed OR that someone is going to take away the weapons. It infects everyone, too, because even those who aren’t caught in the cycle are fearful of the next attack. We’re in this, too, if completely against our will.

    It’s ALL fear. I don’t know how to stop it.

    Attacks drive gun sales and any attempt at regulation drives gun sales. Two different reasons to be fearful, same response.

  12. 12
    MosesZD says:

    I remember that… I was a member of the NRA as were most of my family. It was a gun club for hunters, not “Post Apocalyptic Morons” with gun fetishes.

    Those that are paranoid and racist remained part of the Hick Fascist Movement remain. Those of us that weren’t, left.

  13. 13
    leeleeFL says:

    That article is more than amazing. I have believed for decades that Reagan was the tipping point. But I have NEVER seen it articulated as well. And even he eventually stood for the assault weapons ban. The Right will, no doubt ascribe that to Alzheimer’s. Addled, dontcha know? BTW, my Granddaughter’s school went on lockdown yesterday because some Troglodyte made threats about harming people like happened at Sandy Hook. Good times. Hugs today.

  14. 14
    steveday says:

    Remember when drunk=funny? Dean Martin’s TV show?
    Then came MAAD, and we either sobered up at home, or in the slammer.

    I suspect this latest massacre was the tipping point, and a bunch of mothers are going to go all “Network” on us, and take Howard Beal’s advice.

  15. 15
    Narcissus says:

    America has a major angry-man problem. Reading the Mother Jones article, whose lead author is former Salon reporter Mark Follman, I was actually surprised to learn that there was one female mass shooter in recent American history, a disgruntled postal worker in Goleta, Calif., who shot a neighbor and several co-workers. But the other 61 people who have so tragically acted out their twisted private fantasies on people around them have all been male. While some element of sexual or misogynistic drama was frequently involved – a mother or ex-wife or girlfriend; a rejection or divorce or suggestions of closeted homosexuality – the one thing you can point to in almost every case is perceived humiliation.

    Over and over again you read stories of workplace shootings – at technology companies, aircraft factories, day-trading firms, fast-food franchises, maintenance yards and (infamously) post offices – in which some guy who got fired or lost a promotion or generally felt that everybody hated him goes and gets a gun, or several, and acts out his revenge fantasy. Of course there’s no possible justification for such an act, and it seems reasonable to conclude that anybody who shoots a lot of people has suffered a mental breakdown, probably one with deep roots and multiple causative factors. Nonetheless I suspect that economic realities play a role. It’s plausible that these grotesque events are by-products of the downward pressure on wages, especially in the working class and lower fringes of the middle class, and reflect what has sometimes been called the “crisis of masculinity,” meaning the perceived emasculation and loss of privilege felt by some men in an age of increasing sexual equality.

    http://www.salon.com/2012/12/1.....ss_murder/

  16. 16
    Emma says:

    @Linda Featheringill and @Raven:

    Thank you for the kind thoughts. I’ve been around this track once before and I have a pretty good handle on what will happen if it’s not good. It’s the stress of uncertainty that just makes my back spasm and pinch nerves all over the place.

  17. 17
    Trakker says:

    I have a reflexive contempt for people who haven’t gone shooting and tell you that gun control laws are the answer.

    Well, guess what? Their knee-jerk solution is more right than mine.

    I’ve argued gun control with sane gun owners, NRA members, who disliked the NRA’s tactics but believed their propaganda about gun control and that the government had a secret plan to disarm all Americans. I suspect Sandy Hook might be changing a lot of minds.

  18. 18
    c u n d gulag says:

    @Bago:
    Thanks for this morning’s laugh!

    The amount of research done, and still sound like a gibbering and angry baboon, is stunning.

    He’s “Double Secret, Secret Blacker Than Black Ops!”

  19. 19
    danielx says:

    @kay:

    All true, although there’s a good dose of gun fetish there as well – have to have the latest and greatest “tactical” stuff, don’t you know.

    I’ve read a lot about the “Dunblane solution” in the last few days, referring to the banning of handguns in private hands in mainland Britain after the mass shooting in Dunblane. Can be filed under the “never happen” category in this country, or so I believe, simply because of the number of weapons out there which is literally in the hundreds of millions. There are many, many people out there who own a (or more than one) AR-15 type weapon or other military-style semiautomatic rifle, not to mention civilian AK-47 variants, semiautomatic pistols and (god help us all) .50 caliber rifles.

    No matter what laws are passed, a lot of these people are not going to give up their weapons – period.

  20. 20
    Elizabelle says:

    @danielx:

    RE those who already own assault weapons (and other guns):

    I guess you go at it through attrition. Yeah, we’ll never get rid of handguns and rifles, but we can get rid of the military-style stuff with advanced capabilities. (And hunters themselves can shame the other “hunters” who need assault weapons to take out Bambi.)

    However,

    Since we do have so many elderly codgers with guns (Tea Partiers, but I repeat myself), and often paranoid codgers:

    Any legislation should deal with what happens to the assault weapon in the home once the codger passes.

    People who couldn’t legally obtain the gun in the first place should not be inheriting it, and if such guns have been outlawed in the meantime, perhaps the gun should go back to the state for a buyback.

  21. 21
    JPL says:

    Google is celebrating Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Everyone should take a look..

  22. 22
    sherparick says:

    I would aks Balloon Juicers to to the blog Crooked Timber and sign up on a statement in support of Professor Erick Loomis who Wingnuttia has decided is to blame for the Newtown massacre becauase after the fact he twitted “I want to see Wayne Lapierre’s on a stick.” Such exemplars of civil speech such as Glenn Reynolds, Michelle Malkin, David Horowitz, and Faux news have been calling for his dismissal from his position because of this alleged “death threat” (apparently they have a problem with the literary concept of metaphor). The University of Rhode Island has been less than stalwart in support of Professor Loomis, who blogs at Lawyers, Guns, and Money, and produces some of the best stuff imaginable on U.S. Labor and Union history. Please go to http://crookedtimber.org/2012/.....ik-loomis/ and let them know that Professor Loomis does not stand alone in wanting to hold both the NRA and the right-wing accountable for this and all the other gun tragecies in the U.S.

  23. 23
    JPL says:

    @sherparick: What sane person didn’t have the same thoughts after what happened in Newtown?

  24. 24
    Ash Can says:

    @danielx: I agree; a lot of them won’t. But maybe some of them would if, say, the gov were to initiate a buyback program, at rates higher than what they paid for the guns. And say it were to happen right after the first of the year, right after we’d fallen off the”fiscal cliff” into sequestration, and the program were launched under the theme of “defensespendIng cuts have kIcked In, and now the troops need those guns more than you do — be a real patriot.” No, a lot of people wouldn’t go for it. But if even some did, it would be a significant step in the right direction.

  25. 25
    Elizabelle says:

    My viewing of “Morning Joe” rarely survives much exposure to Joe himself.

    Today he was opining that any gun legislation should not come out with Dianne Feinstein’s, or Chuck Schumer’s, or Barbara Boxer’s fingerprints on it.

    No, no. To be legitimate, Joe Manchin needs to lead the charge. (I guess after he’s eradicated violent video games.)

    Joe’s so right. Because that’s how we enacted Civil Rights legislation. Nothing happened until Orville Faubus, and George C. Wallace, and that sheriff from Selma, Alabama brought voting rights to us.

    Oh wait.

    Continued watching idly after that, but once Joe started humping himself over “Obama is screwing over his base! on the “fiscal cliff” negotiations!”

    Out comes the remote.

    Joe needs to remember that President Obama has a diverse base of support, in more terms than skin pigmentation and ethnic background.

    He won’t.

  26. 26
    Randy P says:

    @Bago: Mall Ninja is awesome! I especially like how he’s authorized to use deadly force on kids who take more than one sample at the Hickory Farms.

    And I’m pretty sure that wasn’t a parody.

  27. 27
    Napoleon says:

    @Elizabelle:

    No, no. To be legitimate, Joe Manchin needs to lead the charge.

    I will somewhat defend Joe on this. He is right IF Manchin is willing to introduce a bill with real reforms (something I now call into question since he appears to be parroting the NRA’s talking points at this time). It quite simply would be impossible for the NRA to tar him as an anti-gun nut and the media would eat it up.

  28. 28
    Kay says:

    @danielx:

    No matter what laws are passed, a lot of these people are not going to give up their weapons – period.

    I generally disagree with this as a reason not to regulate, well, anything.

    There will always be people who break laws. Always. What they’ve done with weapons deregulation is made it completely routine and ordinary to own military-style weapons. That’s the power “legality” confers: laws reflect norms, laws describe norms.

    I read about an incident yesterday, where a man carrying a concealed weapon (legally) got into a argument with another man in a restaurant.

    The armed man SHOT the other. Not only did he shoot him, but his FIRST response was to invoke Stand Your Ground. Police said he he stated that he was “in his rights” to SHOOT someone he was arguing with. One of his errant bullets lodged in a wall and there were other people in the restaurant.

    The laws in Florida told him that this behavior was A-Okay. We shouldn’t confer that stamp of approval. We’ve done that. We never, ever talk about his responsibilities, only his RIGHTS.

  29. 29
    Elizabelle says:

    @Napoleon:

    I wondered what folks thought of that.

    Manchin leading, or being a co-sponsor is great.

    I took Joe’s comments to be “keep those liberals away from any legislation on this”. Do wonder how the politics play out on this.

  30. 30
    bemused says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Their discussion of the “cliff” negotiations was same old. There must be “hard choices” on SS/Medicare, etc. Rarely is bloated defense spending, corp subsidies and so much more mentioned by the “serious” Morning Joe crew or guests, none of whom will ever have to worry about relying on SS/Medicare and so on. It drives me crazy.

  31. 31
    Kay says:

    @danielx:

    I sometimes do mediations in my office with teenage never-married parents over custodial rights. Often grandparents are in the picture, so we may be talking about 7 people around a table. It’s high-conflict work. People storm out. They slam doors. They punch walls. Ohio has an incredibly lax concealed carry law, and I conduct these things “after hours”, because most of my people are working people who can’t take time off willy-nilly or they lose their job. I know a lot of them, or I know “of” them, and I can pretty much tell who’s likely to be a weapons enthusiast (this is a small town). I have to ask them if they’re armed. I don’t want them in a mediation if they’re carrying a concealed weapon. I don’t think it’s safe, and “personal, physical safety” is just a rock-bottom requirement for any meaningful negotiation. I can’t have a power imbalance. I feel as if we’re adding this wholly unneeded fear element, and it’s really insidious and corrosive. I don’t know how to fix it.

  32. 32
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @steveday:

    I suspect this latest massacre was the tipping point, and a bunch of mothers are going to go all “Network” on us, and take Howard Beal’s advice.

    There is sobbing of the strong,
             And a pall upon the land;
          But the People in their weeping
                Bare the iron hand;
          Beware the People weeping
              When they bare the iron hand.

    Herman Melville, 1866

  33. 33
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Kay:

    We shouldn’t confer that stamp of approval. We’ve done that. We never, ever talk about his responsibilities, only his RIGHTS.

    Responsibilities? Pshaw, it is to laugh.

  34. 34
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @sherparick: Thanks for bringing it to my attention…

  35. 35
    Kay says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    It’s been a real eye-opener. I hear again and again how the NRA does “good work” on gun safety and training. Except we don’t know if it’s “good work”. They set the standards. The state defers to them, because they’re the experts (supposedly). To my mind, they’ve set the bar incredibly low. Ohio requires 12 hours of training to get a concealed carry permit. Is that a high standard? I don’t think so. We just accept it because the NRA announced that 12 hours meant “responsible and well-trained”. It’s as if Toyota or GM were in charge of standards on driver training. Isn’t this a bit of a conflict?

    I (was) once a master gardener in the state of Indiana. They required 35 hours of training and 35 hours of volunteer work as an “intern”. The responsibility of advising you on the telephone on why your roses don’t bloom is HIGH and we in the gardening community don’t take that lightly! Purdue set the standards (I think). Their name was all over everything. But they weren’t in the business of handing out certifications and selling mulch, or whatever. They didn’t have a vested interest in making everyone a master gardener. They set the bar high.

  36. 36
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Kay: IIRC, it took 40 hours of training for me to get certified as a mediator in Ohio. OTOH, I got to jump out of an airplane in Ohio with about four hours of training (the three weeks in the Army didn’t matter to them).

  37. 37

    […] this brings us to “The NRA As Paranoia Vector & Neofeudalist Tool” by Annie Laurie. Annie Laurie links to Mark Ames, who is tracing the hick fascism (his […]

  38. 38
    Kay says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I was reading the Ohio AG site yesterday on concealed carry and they have a sort of disclaimer. If you get ripped off by an instructor who isn’t “certified” you can get your money back. I sort of love that the whole gun community is dominated by free market principles and deregulation. EVERYBODY is making money, all up and down the line.

    I also found out that they refer to those of us in the unarmed community as “victims”. Really, screw them. THEY’RE victims. They’re jumping like trained seals to buy more and more and more every time there’s a shooting or a “threat” to their “liberty”. They’re locked in an arm’s race. I’m starting to think it’s much braver to walk among them unarmed. Defiant.

  39. 39
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Kay: It was 16 years ago yesterday that I got mugged in right by Schiller Park in Columbus. A friend of mine from the Army asked me if I would have been happier to have been carrying a weapon. I said no. It happened too quickly for me to have done anything with a weapon unless I was walking with it my hand, all jacked up and ready for trouble, and, what’s more, if I had been carrying, I would have been the one who introduced a weapon into the equation. Further, I lost $50 and some blood, plus I got two stitches on my left eyebrow. Is that worth killing over? I say no.

  40. 40
    Joey Maloney says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: All I had to do to jump out of an airplane in Tennessee was watch a video that assured me that if I had a bad outcome, no matter why or how, I couldn’t sue anyone for it.

    Of course, I jumped strapped to someone who knew what they were doing.

  41. 41
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: It is my comment, why don’t I have permission to edit it? FYWP, you ass.

    @Joey Maloney: I jumped on my own but with two instructors alongside.

  42. 42
    gene108 says:

    @Trakker:

    I suspect Sandy Hook might be changing a lot of minds.

    I don’t.

    I think it will get people to be more entrenched in their fear of “gun grabbers”.

    Bottom line for many gun owners is they view guns like any other piece of personal property they own and do not want more rules around it than other pieces of personal property.

    If they can buy car parts, clothes, and other items of personal property with minimal scrutiny, the same should be the case with gun ownership.

    The same thought applies to being able to sell guns. If you can have a yard sale and sell your stuff; the sale of a gun should be no different.

  43. 43
    Kay says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    It happened too quickly for me to have done anything with a weapon unless I was walking with it my hand, all jacked up and ready for trouble,

    That’s the other part that doesn’t make sense to me, on “home defense” and “gun safety”. People go to great lengths to tell me how their kids can’t get the gun. It’s in a locked case, the bullets are stored elsewhere, they hide the key, and on and on. It seems contradictory to their stated purpose for having the thing, which would indicate it would need to be loaded and on their nightstand unless they’re using it as a club. How can it be both “safe” and accesible in the moment they’re anticipating? One contradicts the other.

  44. 44
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Kay: It is a totem. Or they are lying about how safely they have it stored. Now that I think about it, probably both.

  45. 45
    Steeplejack says:

    @Emma:

    I have had two scorchingly bad bouts of sciatica, and the the best thing I found that helped–just about the only thing, in fact–was Thai massage. It’s sort of like yoga but with the practitioner manipulating you through the movements.

    Demo here. I have no connection to this person. I thought her explanation and techniques are pretty good, based on my experience.

  46. 46
    Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937 says:

    @Elizabelle: A routine buy back program would be a good idea considering our demographics and the fact a bunch of baby boomers will be departing over the next couple of decades. Some way of safely ridding yourself of an unwanted weapon would be a good idea.

  47. 47
    gene108 says:

    @Kay:

    I think a lot of gun owners arguments fall into two camps.

    1. I don’t commit crimes so leave me alone; and
    2. Because that’s the way it is. CONSTITUTION! SO SHUT UP! That’s Why!

    The whole notion that we sometimes need to curtail individual actions for the greater good is just rejected on its face.

    Never mind the efficacy of seat belt laws, for example, for reducing auto accident fatalities, a person’s individual rights trump any larger responsibility to society.

  48. 48
    Kay says:

    @gene108:

    Never mind the efficacy of seat belt laws, for example, for reducing auto accident fatalities, a person’s individual rights trump any larger responsibility to society.

    You know, though, we’ve had enormous success with some public health campaigns. I can say from personal experience that it is (now) socially unacceptable among the teenage parent set to drive around with the baby and no car seat. That didn’t used to be true. We used to have to write it into an order. Now it’s a huge social faux pas to be seen without the proper equipment. They give each other shit about it. It’s great. They self-police. I don’t know when it flipped, but it did. To be reckless or irresponsible with an infant in that manner carries a social sanction.

    I don’t see that among the weapons enthusiast crowd. I keep hearing how the boy’s mother in this case was “responsible”. Maybe there are mitigating factors that we don’t know yet, but how is she “responsible”, with what we have so far? We don’t have to demonize her, and maybe the jury is still out, but damn, should we be running around calling her “responsible”? Words have meaning. That’s not the first description that comes to MY mind.

  49. 49
    Soonergrunt says:

    @gene108: Until the mid-1970s the right to purchase and possess child pornography was widely thought to be protected under the first amendment.
    It wasn’t until 1982 that SCOTUS decided that CP was not protected speech in New York v. Ferber.
    Times and values change.

    Cue all the lawyers jumping in to correct me. Which is absolutely fine with me.

  50. 50
    gene108 says:

    @Kay:

    That’s what frustrates me about talking to gun enthusiasts. They really feel that personal freedom, even if there’s some collateral damage, trumps imposing levels of responsibility on people in a society to follow rules that may cost them something, like money for a baby seat in their car.

    There’s so much evidence out their about the benefits of public safety campaigns that have reduced the burden we as a society face overall by imposing relatively small burdens on people, such as seat belts, child seats, removal of lead based paints and gas, etc. that the same sort of things can be applied to gun ownership in some form and probably reduce gun crimes substantially.

    They just don’t want to hear any of it.

    Access to firearms should be as unfettered as access to any other piece of personal property, like clothes and nothing less is acceptable.

    It’s like having a conversation with a brick.

  51. 51
    Elizabelle says:

    @Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937:

    I think a buyback program when the gun-owner dies — or becomes incapable of using it ever again (permanent entry into nursing home or no longer competent to manage self and affairs) would be a great idea.

    Sometimes the survivors are casting about for money for funeral expenses and last details.

  52. 52
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Elizabelle: Used to be the County Sheriff siezed the guns in deceased person’s household, and kept many of them, regardless of what the will might have said.
    In fact, that’s how many militias in colonial and post-colonial America equipped those militia members who did not personally own firearms.

  53. 53
    JCT says:

    @Kay: No, she was not responsible with her firearms. This is straightforward. They should have been stored in a safe and she alone should have had the combination. I have a college-age son (and he plays video games, oh noes) and even though I know he would not touch my firearms if I left them unlocked, I still lock them all away with trigger locks in place. That is what responsible gun ownership demands. And they were not present in my house until both kids were adults.

    Most of these guys who go on and on about how they lock up their guns are lying. Real safes cost big bucks.

    And Ohio has nothing on the insanity in Arizona. Anyone who buys a gun (no prob at any weekly gun show) can carry concealed. No permit required. One of the owners of local gun shops/firing ranges had the temerity to comment that she felt that people should have *some* training to carry concealed. That’s all she said. And her store was boycotted and they received death threats. Because NO ONE can tell these gun nuts what to do, especially when it comes to their holy fetish.

    Truly scary. This country is in a very bad place when it comes to guns.

  54. 54
    Fair Economist says:

    @danielx:

    There are many, many people out there who own a (or more than one) AR-15 type weapon or other military-style semiautomatic rifle, not to mention civilian AK-47 variants, semiautomatic pistols and (god help us all) .50 caliber rifles.
    No matter what laws are passed, a lot of these people are not going to give up their weapons – period.

    Doesn’t matter. Most violent crime is committed by young men. Once a few years have passed after a gun ban is implemented, they are not going to have carefully husbanded gun collections because they won’t have been around to collect.

    This is even more true of the generally schizophrenic people who commit most mass murders.

  55. 55
    Chris says:

    But instead, they locked themselves in their homes and apartments with their guns and fancied themselves political revolutionaries just waiting to be swept up. But no one came. No one bothered or cared.

    I think the fact that no one else gives a single solitary shit about them and their precious “way of life” is the root cause behind much of their pathology.

    It’s why they concoct these fantasies about big conspiracies between the UN, the federal government and the World Islamic Federation of Evil, all working together in a Master Plan to take their guns and mutilate their cattle. It’s why they’re convinced that the gays, the feminists and all the other people who just want to be left alone are actually secretly plotting to destroy Christianity. It’s why they cling fanatically to shibboleths like “American exceptionalism,” “Christian values that made this country great,” and other code words for “we’re the awesomest awesomes who ever awesomed because shut up that’s why.”

    It’s why, in all, they want to believe that the rest of the universe is trying to attack them because it recognizes and fears their awesomeness. “Everyone’s out to get me” is just a more dramatic version of “the world revolves around me,” which is their foundational belief. And they’re terrified that it might not be true, and that they, like the rest of us, are just a dime a dozen, not a Chosen Race besieged on every front by the Forces of Darkness.

    (Heck, even the anxiety about white people becoming a minority can be read this way. Do they really believe all the nonwhites are going to rise up and kill, enslave or segregate them? Yeah, it could be that they’re that dumb. Or maybe what they’re really afraid of is that none of that will happen, that life will go on, that the age when being white/male/Christian in America was something special will pass not with a bang but a whimper and their world of specialness will die without anyone noticing or caring).

  56. 56
    Kay says:

    @JCT:

    This is straightforward.

    Right, but something else is going on here because for some reason it’s NOT straightforward. I wouldn’t wish what happened to her on my worst enemy.

    I wouldn’t wish an accidental shooting or a gunshot suicide on anyone, either. Can you imagine anything worse than your kid dead with your gun? I read about the father who accidentally shot his 7 year old while getting into his car wearing his weapon and I cant”t even get mad at him. That must be anguish.

    But these things keep happening. So something is getting in the way of common sense and (at the very least) self-interest. Forget worrying about “others”. How about worrying about “yours”? If we can’t even get THAT I don’t know where we go with this.

    I think it’s the marketing of the thing. The making it casual and “fun!” and kid-friendly.

  57. 57
    Chris says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Is that worth killing over? I say no.

    That, and are you sure you can handle the consequences if you pull a gun? How do you know he doesn’t have one of his own? If he’s just mugging you and you’re a “victim,” as the NRA crowd says, odds are it’ll go no further. If you try pulling a gun, that puts him in fear for his life, and how do you know that at that point he won’t pull a gun of his own or try to stab you – and that he won’t be faster? Yeah, I’m sorry; I’ve never been mugged (I’ve been robbed and didn’t like it one bit), but if it ever happens, I’ll take my chances just handing over the wallet obediently. Not just out of concern for the mugger’s life, or innocent bystanders. For mine.

  58. 58
    Joel says:

    @Raven: I had surgery for an L4-L5 herniated disc about a decade ago. Before the surgery, I was unable to walk upright or for more than a few city blocks. I walked upright out of the hospital the next day. I then went for a mile-long walk. Have run several 5, 10Ks since, plus a half-marathon. Your mileage may vary.

    I do agree that the cortisone shots are worthless. I don’t know why they’re still done. I had to be restrained by two nurses after getting mine, it felt like being electrocuted.

  59. 59
    Chris says:

    @gene108:

    I suspect Sandy Hook might be changing a lot of minds.

    I don’t.

    Depends whose minds. I don’t think this will change the minds of any of the hard-line conservatives (which at this point means pretty much all of them), or create a pro-gun-control consensus in America.

    But I do think what it’s achieved is to shake liberals, who for years had pretty much accepted that “the NRA won,” out of their resignation, encouraged them to take the gun control issue off the shelf, and hopefully, shocked enough mushy moderates in the middle away from the “guns don’t kill people, people kill people, mmm’kay” consensus that this might actually become a real issue again.

  60. 60
    schrodinger's cat says:

    What is the percentage of gun ownership state by state? How many people really own guns? NRA and its apologists make it sound like it is a majority of the population, is that true?

  61. 61
    Chris says:

    @gene108:

    They really feel that personal freedom, even if there’s some collateral damage, trumps imposing levels of responsibility on people in a society to follow rules that may cost them something, like money for a baby seat in their car.

    Part of growing up is accepting that there are other people in the world, that they matter as much as you do, and that you can’t always get what you want because of that. (The old “my right to swing my arm ends at the tip of your nose” principle).

    People who can’t make this leap into adulthood are called “conservatives.” Or “libertarians.”

  62. 62
    Kay says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    No, it’s not true. I first read it here, it’s a long (but very good) article. The percentage of all people who own guns has been going down, not up. What’s driving the increase are people who own MANY guns.

    I was really surprised, because I (like you) felt I had been told that gun ownership was just universally popular. I think that’s part of the marketing. “You’re OUTNUMBERED, so just give up”.

    You’re the majority.

  63. 63
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Kay:

    You know, though, we’ve had enormous success with some public health campaigns. I can say from personal experience that it is (now) socially unacceptable among the teenage parent set to drive around with the baby and no car seat. That didn’t used to be true. We used to have to write it into an order. Now it’s a huge social faux pas to be seen without the proper equipment. They give each other shit about it. It’s great. They self-police. I don’t know when it flipped, but it did. To be reckless or irresponsible with an infant in that manner carries a social sanction.

    I’ve been thinking along similar lines, that social shaming of gun owners is needed before we can get substantially better laws.

  64. 64
    Matt McIrvin says:

    Numbers from 2001:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....rship.html

    The states where it’s a majority tend to be rural and conservative, and there isn’t a breakdown of how many of those people just have hunting guns and how many are Tactical Teds. And it may well have changed somewhat since then.

    Gun ownership by partisan identification:

    http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.n.....-is-sharp/

    Gun ownership is an unusually good predictor of Republican party identification: better than gender, sexual orientation, Hispanic/Latino identity or geography.

  65. 65
    Matt McIrvin says:

    From the Nate Silver article, note also that gun ownership by household has been dropping for decades, but almost all of the drop is from non-Republican households; independents almost kept pace with Democrats until recently (my guess: that’s Tea Partiers labeling themselves as independent).

  66. 66
    Kay says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    It’s going to be a long haul, though. No one ever told teen parents “the lack of a car seat doesn’t kill babies, people do“. It wasn’t complicated. We didn’t make long, tangential legalistic arguments, where we debated about proximate cause of the damage: ” was it the CAR? Was it THE PARENTS? Perhaps…MENTAL ILLNESS? Maybe it’s just the existential human condition!”

    We just told them “put the babies in a car seat”. Over and over and over. We didn’t brook any bullshit about their “feelings” or personal ideology or how people would probably not comply with car seat rules anyway so we’d just have to live with the carnage.

  67. 67
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Kay: Seat belts in general might be a better analogy. To this day, there are a lot of people who just never wear seat belts. But there’s been a real, slow change, and it’s saved many, many lives.

    And there was contrary pressure. I was raised to wear a seat belt when I was a kid, but I remember some drivers being offended when I put on my lap and shoulder belt when sitting in the front passenger seat. “You think I’m not a good driver?”

    (And even in my family, of course we didn’t use child seats after we were babies, and my sister had a habit of getting out of her seat belt and standing on the central hump with her hands on the front seats, which got her mild scolding.)

  68. 68
    Kay says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    I agree, but there are all kinds of societal norms around raising kids that are weirdly enforced. It’s huge. I get it with immunizations, too. I get really young parents who show me their kids immunization records. It means, I think, to them, that they’re taking care of business. They’re competent. They ARE, that is true, it’s a record of care, in a sense, but I don’t think older parents brandish a document in quite the same way:)

    If I were running any public health campaign I’d use what seems to be a really deep-seated norm that adults take care of children. We’re horrible if we don’t do that, right? We failed at something big.

  69. 69
    Gretchen says:

    My dad considered seat belt laws an outrageous infringement on his personal liberty, and never wore one. I never wore one for the first part of my life, because they hadn’t been invented yet. I wear them all the time now. My kids never saw a car without seat belts, and would never dream of going anywhere unbuckled, never mind setting a baby on the seat and taking off. Sometimes change takes time, and the hidebound old folks dying off. Maybe we need to look at the seat belt campaigns and take a hint from them, because over time they worked.

  70. 70

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    I’ve been thinking along similar lines, that social shaming of gun owners is needed before we can get substantially better laws.

    This: The problem’s cultural. So it’s the culture that has to change.

    If you want fewer gun nuts, make it unpopular to be one.

  71. 71
    Matt McIrvin says:

    Focusing on kids is probably a good idea.

    The Nate Silver statistics roundup noted that the presence of a child in the household had little effect on gun ownership, and none among Republicans. And, of course, the desire to defend one’s children is cited as a reason to have guns, even though kids get killed by the guns in the house all the time.

    Maybe we need to start telling people that a home with children has no business having a gun in it. Or, at the very least, that it has no business having a gun at the ready for “self-defense.”

  72. 72
    ruviana says:

    @Matt McIrvin: I had an aunt who wouldn’t wear her seatbelt (unless we stopped the car and didn’t drive until it was on) because if it was on it prevented you from “jumping free” during an accident.

  73. 73
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Kay: The bit about immunizations is kind of heartening, actually, given the number of parents who believe that not immunizing their kids is part of competent child care. Is that meme breaking?

  74. 74
    punkdavid says:

    Maybe the greatest article on rightist extremism I’ve ever read. Thank you.

  75. 75
    Bob says:

    @Napoleon: Um, “Manchin” and “real reform” do not belong next to each other without a negation somewhere. Courageous he ain’t. He skipped out on the vote on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the DREAM act and then there was his famous target shooting ad. Now that might lend more credibility to him were he to actually endorse a real bill, but it ain’t gonna happen, you can already see the fear in his eyes.

    By the way, “Paranoia Vector” is fantastic coinage. And the piece is really good too. The whole sociology of the last thirty years has yet to be written – hopefully civilization will survive to eventually shine a light on what the heck’s been going on. I feel bad for the young’uns under 40. They don’t know anything different.

  76. 76
    Kay says:

    @Matt McIrvin:

    given the number of parents who believe that not immunizing their kids is part of competent child care.

    Honestly, I think we’re talking about a different demo. These parents don’t read the Huffington Post. They’re the kind of parents who have trouble accessing health care, at all. They’re not to the point where they question conventional medical advice. They’re pleased to be getting any medical attention at all. “Public health” (the part of it I encounter) is pretty basic stuff.

    Stop drop and roll, use a car seat, smoke outdoors. I think we could add “don’t allow unfettered access to your deadly weapon (s)”.

  77. 77
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @ruviana: That’s an even better analogy! The “jumping free of the exploding car” scenario is the seat-belt equivalent of the story about gunning down a home invader before he kills your family.

    Maybe it even really happens once in a while!

  78. 78
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Kay: Yeah, the anti-vaccination folks tend to be well-off.

  79. 79
    Watcher of the Skies says:

    @Kay: You can purchase a single handgun safe that sits on the nightstand. The safe has an indentation on the top shaped like a hand. In the dark, you rest your hand in the indentation and at the tip of each finger is a button. Your safe’s code can be any sequence of the four buttons (and you can use the buttons more than once in the sequence). The safe’s door drops down, you grab the handgun, load the clip, and you are ready to go in less than 30 seconds.

  80. 80
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Bob:

    I feel bad for the young’uns under 40. They don’t know anything different.

    But they’re also immune to some of the fear-narratives that drove the decay. They’re less racist, on average. They’ve never been afraid of Commies. Jimmy Carter is a figure from the misty ancient times.

    We’ve been watching crazy ideas inexorably take over American politics for 40 years. They may see the rollback. They also pay the price of what we’ve done, but hope is a powerful thing.

  81. 81
  82. 82
    Yutsano says:

    Oh fuck me running WP. Oh wait. You just did.

  83. 83
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    @Chris:

    Heck, even the anxiety about white people becoming a minority can be read this way.

    Absolutely it can. Which is why the best rejoinder I’ve heard thus far is: “Oh, you’re worried that whites will become a minority? Why are you worried about that? Are minorities treated differently or something?”

  84. 84
    stickler says:

    Before we all go whole-hog on the “Reagan diddit” stuff (not to totally discount his baleful influence), let’s all not forget that there was some pretty nasty stuff going on well before St. Ronnie walked into the White House.

    Say, like Charles Whitman at the U of Texas in 1966. Or some guy in Dallas in 1963.

    (Not sure where to put racist violence in the ’50s and ’60s, but I’m sure it appealed to the same kind of misanthropic urges that appeal to wackos after 1980.)

    We have been a deeply ill culture for longer than thirty years.

  85. 85

    And really, why would any plutocrat or evil government agency bother with the suckers, all harmlessly atomized and isolated and thoroughly neutralized by the false sense of political empowerment that their guns gave them, while you do the real work of plundering budgets, bribing politicians and writing laws even more in your favor?

    This is one of the most cynical sentences I’ve ever read.

    all harmlessly atomized and isolated” and armed to the hilt, ready to take as many others with them as possible.

    Wow, are we fucked, or what?

  86. 86
    J R in WV says:

    Hi all,

    I’m a gun owner and target shooter here in rural West Virginia. My Grandma taught me and all my cousins to target shoot safely when we were young. I’m also a veteran and had basic training in shooting rifles and .45 pistols. I have a Concealed Carry permit, for which I took a class given by a law enforcement officer, passed the test he administered, and successfully shot targets while he observed.

    Then I passed a background test and was issued a permit. I went through this process mainly to make it unquestionably legal when I transport firearms from place to place, in order to shoot with friends at their farms ro shooting ranges.

    I believe that all persons wishing to own firearms should go through that whole process, and that there should be a complete and well-managed federal database of people who have such permits, and those who do not quality for such a permit, like convicted batterers, felons, and mental patients who seem possible risks for great harm to others.

    I think once you have such a permit, it should be revokable for any crime of violence or theft, but not for crimes of civil disobedience. Permit holders are held to higher standards, not allowed to be intoxicated while in possession of their weapon, for example.

    I believe the NRA and others with the same mentality are partly responsible for these mass shootings, along with the news media. The NRA is an arm of the arms industry – anything that scares people into buying more arms is a good thing to the manufacturers and the NRA. So they have a vested interest in making people fearful of the boogey monsters with bigger guns.

    There are dangerous people out there, as we see in the crime reports daily. Unfortunately, many of them are our next door neighbors, the salesman at the hardware store, the PE teacher or Coach at middle school.

    Engendering fear of the unknown is a well-known tool to help develop control of the populace – a strong leader will promise to help take care of the fear, by making us stronger, or by attacking those who scare us, like liberals, hippies, and the niCLANGrs. Then they will need to take our guns, so they can protect us all from each other.

    Then we’re done!

    The only cure is to not be afraid of the unknown. We’ve always come through, together, and if we stick together we will come through all this again.

    So hang in there, everyone. You Too, Loomis! Hang in there! Keep up the good work! If they’re fighting back that means we have them scared of us and our policies!

  87. 87
    Chris says:

    @Bubblegum Tate:

    LOL, that (with Gene Wilder’s grinning face) was my Facebook status for a while. Nobody took the bait, but quite a few people “liked.”

    @stickler:

    Before we all go whole-hog on the “Reagan diddit” stuff (not to totally discount his baleful influence), let’s all not forget that there was some pretty nasty stuff going on well before St. Ronnie walked into the White House.

    Oh, absolutely. Most of the groundwork was already done before Ronald Reagan, but he was the one who brought the whole plan together.

  88. 88

    @Chris:
    I think the anti-government 2nd Amendment justifications are nonsense. Antiquated nonsense. Fudgin” Branch Dividian Waconess. See how it ends. There ain’t a wacko “patriot” in suburbia that has a wife who will live through the toilet not working, much less all dreams held in 401-Ks and equities when your checking account is closed . You think there’s someone to shoot at? Tip the couch over in front of the picture window and … ? March on ??? You and what army?:

    Get real? They will drone your posterior while you’re sneaking over to the neighbors for a bucket of water while everything you ever planned on dissolves and the world never even notices.

    You tell me what the Federal Government of the United States Of America has to do that will ever get an organized group of NOT-CRAZY people ( I’ve been to Tea Party big events) to act in an armed manner.
    Then, after you finally stretch out all logic and history, whatever you put up, I will measure against school massacres.

    I propose that semi-auto pistols be illegal. No ammo magazines over 6 rounds – if you can’t take that deer down with 6, give it up.

  89. 89
    tk says:

    Fantastic point. The idea that you have somehow made a stand by locking the front door and hiding in the basement with your Bushmaster is pervasive with all of the nuts I have run into.

  90. 90
    Bob says:

    @Matt McIrvin: Yeah, that’s a good point. I guess I have no idea how they see the world, what context they use for that. I can say at least that my wife and I have been amazed that our daughter and her friends by and large don’t see color at all, they’re past all that. So, I often say, all it would take to end racism is for the adults to keep their mouths shut. Not so easy though.

  91. 91
    AHH onna Droid says:

    @gene108: No. Bullshit. Buying and selling of plenty of items is restricted or banned. Agricultural products, tobacco products, permits, licenses, real property, certain chemical s, certain street weapons, some kinds of textiles, prepared foods, digital products (dcma), and so on. Cars.

    Of course some of these goobers self righteously flout health and sanitation regulations like it’s a badge of moral rectitude.

  92. 92

    […] over a decades-long campaign (see the history laid out in the Mark Ames piece Anne Laurie linked to yesterday), has a broad resume when it comes to fighting science to avoid the necessity of confronting the […]

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