by Russ Linton
I remember not long after Obama was elected, my father-in-law showing off his new handgun. Former military, he wasn’t a stranger to guns but the purchase came as something of a surprise.
He wasn’t a sportsman or hunter. Crime, at the time, had plummeted to all time lows around the nation. I suspected it was a political purchase more than anything.
Not long after, my parents, not former military and owners of a dusty .22 rifle unfired in decades, were talking about doing the same.
I was at a loss. The reasons for owning a gun are many. But if you’re buying one to have lying around the house, it’s not a wise purchase for many reasons.
Like statistically how it compromises your safety more than assures it. Or how the toxic myth of a “good guy” with a gun seems to fuel rampages of individuals who very likely, at one time, felt they were the “good guy with a gun”. Or how they make an incredibly efficient method for suicide, so much so that suicide rates in states with high gun ownership are universally higher than elsewhere. Or how a 9mm wasn’t going to stop a fictional rogue U.S. military — if they ever want to subjugate the population, forget a fair fight, they’ll vaporize you from orbit. Send a drone to firebomb your house. Reduce your carefully stocked compound to rubble with tactical strikes.
Any resistance to the military behemoth we’ve created would likely rely more on fertilizer than gunpowder (and that’s highly regulated for good reason…) I support gun owner’s rights, but also realize we’re far from the days of well-regulated militias serving any logical purpose.
If you own a gun, it needs to be because you plan to do more than shove it in a drawer. Respect it. Use it. Be proficient and cognizant of the ramifications of ownership.
Guns are rarely the problem. The attitude and disposition of the owner is. And I find the current level of idolatry and misinformation among gun owners disturbing.
Both of these personal events happened during Obama’s second term in office. Right wing pundits constantly pushed the narrative that Obama’s goal was to take all of our guns. NRA lobbyists rejoiced. Their job, to sell more guns, made easier than ever. During this time, the gun industry reported a 158% surge in growth.
High-profile shooting sprees ensued. Scandal rocked the NRA, disgracing them. Conspiracy narratives about gun control seemed to reach their crescendo with Alex Jones’ claim that the Sandy Hook school massacre had been a liberal operation, a false flag.
Parents of dead children confronted him in court. And, thankfully, won.
This debased cruelty happened in service of the theory that a Democratic administration would be hell bent on disarming the populace. Even in 2020, gun policy made the top ten of voter concerns, a graver concern by far for Republicans than the a raging pandemic which has killed hundreds of thousands.
But fear sells guns. Not a desire to become proficient with a firearm, to enjoy a sport, or become a hunter. Use at ranges is slightly up with many new shooters joining, but the growth is far outpaced by actual gun sales and other sporting activities are trending down.
With increasing political instability, the sale of firearms is once more on the rise.
In 2020, more first-time gun owners purchased than ever before. Sales have peaked above their 2016 heights. Stocking up for the pandemic apparently included guns and ammo alongside the toilet paper. The apocalypse, nigh.
Then, before Obama ever had his second chance to “come for the guns” through a newly elected former V.P., a mob stormed the Capitol.
By most reports, the rabble of lunatics weren’t the rifle-toting crowds regularly counter-demonstrating against BLM protests. However, guns, chemical propellants, restraints, and even incendiary devices were recovered on scene from a few of these “patriots.” And in the aftermath, the FBI has reported armed demonstrations are planned nationwide for Biden’s inauguration.
Which begs the question, where do we go from here?
The attack on the nation’s Capitol comes on the heels of another in downtown Nashville just weeks ago. As unrelated as they may seem, both were conspiracy-fueled reactions to misinformation peddled carelessly by pundits and political leaders. Reactions to baseless fear mongering.
If bands of armed protesters descend on state governments, the threat of violence isn’t a hypothetical. So how should politicians who were recently barricaded in at work be expected to react?
Forced to confront the issue literally outside their doorstep, this could go one of two ways.
We may see legislators demand the right to carry weapons in government buildings. A safety blanket for their commute to work amid armed crowds — as though shootouts should replace governance and diplomacy.
For some, this would be a glorious return to the romanticism of the Wild West, where, in reality, guns were a major problem for law and order. They’d also declare it a victory for second amendment rights. A right often willfully misinterpreted and stripped of historical context. For far-flung colonies, the necessity of states to maintain standing militias was crucial. But after the establishment of a highly complex and, at this point in history, absurdly powerful national military, militias became redundant and unnecessary.
Perhaps more likely, we will see legislators double down on calls for gun control if, no when, these armed protests turn into live firefights.
Biden, formerly Obama’s right-hand man, would lead the charge. A self-fulfilling prophecy only the most ardent gun rights advocates could bring to fruition.
Russ Linton: Danger, depth, and discovery. A former government agent, philosopher, and forever explorer, I’m now a wandering author delving into worlds both real and imaginary.
Find Russ at www.russlinton.com.
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