Back in 2008, which seems like a couple decades ago in today’s 24-hour news cycle, I published an article titled America’s Gun Addiction on Yahoo!, then waited for the requisite hateful commentary of gun addicts calling me “naïve” and other such nonsense. I never proposed to take away their handguns and assault weapons, but that’s all they could read from it.
Instead, I was simply asking people to consider whether they are addicted to the notion of owning and using guns. Reasonable question, given the proliferation of gun violence in America. And yet people do not seem to get the message that gun violence has a cause, a purpose and a political consequence. Let’s examine these three notions together, and do so a bit provocatively. This is to draw attention to the fact that we are traveling down the road of an escalation in gun violence that some contend will mitigate itself when we reach some stasis where the number of guns in society simply cancels out its own violence. But at what price, and how many lives along the way? And when that stasis of violence cancellation is reached, what will it truly say about our society when have created a culture where equality is defined by equal threats rather than equal rights?
The realities of gun fascism
To draw nearer the truth of where that journey is taking us, we must indeed go another step further, and add a new proposal.
What we have in America is a growing form of gun fascism wrought by the never-ending cycle of gun violence supported by cries for even more guns to solve the gun violence problem.
“Arm the citizenry!” has become the rallying cry of gun advocates and the NRA, and what a disturbing breakdown in logic that really us. But no real surprise. Yet we need to recognize that democracy has a hard time breathing when the air of logic is sucked out of the room by the irrationality of one cause or another.
Fascism depends on a circular logic designed to suck all the air out of discussion and dissent, you see. The strategy of fascists is simple: win the fight by claiming that the cause of our problems is actually the solution. Then repeat your argument often and loudly enough until people come to believe it.
Unless you don’t choose to.
Radical authoritarian nationalism
To call our gun culture “fascism” might seem un-American given our nation’s history of gun obsession, but the description fits. Fascism is defined as is a form of radical authoritarian nationalism. That describes our gun culture perfectly. Those of us who don’t really feel the need to own guns, and who don’t knuckle under to the hot desire to use them are being told, in so many words, that we are naïve, stupid and un-American for having such rational feelings. We’re told to “get with the program” or get shot. There is no in-between.
The not-so-well-regulated militia
We have now reached the point where gun culture has far surpassed the meaning of the Second Amendment with its call for a well-regulated militia. If our so-called “militia” is indeed a force of privately armed citizenry, then who is really doing something about the use of both legal and illegal weapons to shoot and kill dozens of innocent citizens? The gun advocates tell us the cops can’t stop it. They get there after the fact. So the gun fascists tell us the “only way” to stop gun violence is to give everyone a gun. Many would seem to be happy to make it a requirement of citizenship. “That’s taking real responsibility for your own life,” they tell us.
Instead of acknowledging the egregious state of affairs the Connecticut school shootings represent, the gun fascists such as pro-gun Senators just hide away for a few days and then emerging spouting the same gun propaganda they always spew at us. They go on telling us that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
That is a fascist, propagandistic statement designed to control and manipulate the thoughts of a nation by confusing the ability of people to place responsibility where it really lies: on guns as a tool of death and destruction. Such propaganda is a radical controtion of fact that completely ignores original purpose and design of guns, which is to kill.
The fact that we use guns for “sport” is only a deferral of the original design. It does not defer the nature of their original intent. Guns are weapons designed to kill things, and forever shall they remain so. Trying to shift the blame away from that fact is just like saying that people didn’t design guns, the guns designed themselves. We know that is not true.
Literalistic intepretation of the Second Amendment
So how has America’s gun culture become a form of fascism? Our gun culture takes a literal interpretation of the first part of the Second Amendment and exaggerates it to the point of an absurd and often bitter selfishness by essentially ignoring the phrase “well-regulated militia.”
Rather than accepting that “well-regulated” means logical control of those weapons so that the citizenry at large is safe, they cry in fear at any restriction of the so-called freedoms, and then take forceful political action to impose their will on the nation as a collective. “Don’t take away our gun rights!” the gun culture screams. It is the hallmark of gun fascism to hide behind the protection of the Constitution. Yet gun fascisms literally takes away the rights of others every day, with more than 50,000 gun incidents annually in America, and no less than 9,000 deaths a year as the direct product of gun violence. Whose rights are really being violated here?
No less than three 9/11 tragedies per year
We lost over 3,000 people in the 9/11 tragedy. Then our nation’s president (who is known to have ignored warnings about the pending attacks) declared a War On Terror, then proceeded to launch two relatively aimless and unbudgeted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, costing the nation trillions of dollars, many more American lives and the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq and Afghanistan. America has gone to great expense fighting its so-called War On Terror, yet three times as many people die in America from gun violence every year as died in the 9/11 attacks. What’s wrong with this picture.
The bully pulpit of American exceptionalism
The terrorists who committed the crimes in New York knew they were picking on the world’s biggest bully. America is a bully, yet a rather philanthropic one, if you take into account or practice of nation-building after we whack a few other bad guys. That makes us the “exception” you see.
But according to the rules of bullydom, no one is allowed to hit us first. We’re always the ones who get to hit first. If someone hits us we label it “infamy” or “terrorism” or “an act of war.” Well, duh. Sometimes America can be exceptionally stupid about its place in the world. So yes, we are exceptional in some ways.
That is not hating America, by the way, to criticize our nation’s propensity for stupidity at times. That is giving the nation tough love, and we need a dose of it on the issue that is killing our kids, which is guns.
Let us repeat for emphasis: within our own borders we lose three times as many people to gun violence each year as we lost when terrorists flew planes into buildings on 9/11,.
Meanwhile the gun proponents try to tell us it is all the price of freedom.
Nope. This is fascism and a brand of terrorism on our own soil. If we can’t seem to think of any other way to control it than giving out more guns to our citizenry so they can “defend themselves,” we have literally lost the fight for freedom. We certainly can’t shoot our way out, although some might like to try.
False myths and fascist wishes
How long do we really want to lie to ourselves about the open-ended terrorism of gun violence that rips through the fabric of American culture with a seemingly unrelenting pace? Gun fascists tell us to “wise up” to the fact that things will never change. There are 200 million guns in America now. We can’t get rid of them all.
More fascist mindset. It only wants its selfish aims to be fulfilled and uses the false myth that guns bespeak independence and authority.
A last measure of peace, and why America is not anything like a “Christian nation”
That mindset of current day gun fascists would greatly surprise the person known as Jesus Christ, whose instructions to “love your enemy” certainly did not mean to shoot them first and love them later. Yet that is the message of the gun culture we’ve created, a product of the fascist propaganda pumped out by the NRA to support its own commercial clients. America’s freedoms are being sold up the river so that gun and ammunitions companies can make money, and so that people who own guns, legally or not, can be exonerated from culpability for their misuse, at any level. It’s very sad. America is very sad right now because of it.
So we live with a form of terrorism and a fascist strain of a faux branch of government to boot.
The fact is, the way things are now, we could all be shot, any moment of our lives. The gun culture tells us this is inevitable unless we arm ourselves. Such is their interpretation of “freedom.” But it is certainly not in line with the notion of freedom espoused by Christianity, upon whose values some of our nation’s foundations were partly based. That brand of freedom shows personal discipline in resistance to violence. Martin Luther King, Jr. exhibited Christian resistance to violence. And what happened? It got him shot. But the solution was not to arm protestors. The solution was persistence in the face of prejudice and violence.
“Do not suffer the children to come to me”
If a nation dominated by guns is all we have to offer our children, that notion of a “city upon a hill” is all but lost.
Tell that myth to the little children shot in the latest tragedy, and to the millions of other children now asking their parents whether they will be shot at school next week. If we follow the logic of the gun fascists, our city on the hill must automatically become a fortress. The notion is simply medieval.
Jesus once warned his disciples, “do not suffer the children to come to me.” He wanted all to know the sanctity of true freedom, which is not borne on threat and self defense, but on love, charity, understanding and yes, education to the perils of evil in our world. We do need to watch out. But our first priority should be prevention, not vengeance in return for vengeance.
Echoes of vengeance
Today parents are at pains to explain to their children that the Connecticut shootings were just an isolated incident. That’s the advice being given by psychologists.
Tell your kids it’s okay. Tell them they’re not at risk. Assure them the bad guys will not reach their schools.
In other words, lie to them now, and hopefully you’ll never have to explain why that lie was so false. Some lies appear vital to the sanity of a nation at risk. It’s true in war. It’s true in supposed peace as well.
America was turned rotten from the inside out by people who have gone about preaching freedom while creating an iron curtain of weapons inside our own borders, an imprisonment of our imaginations. We’re all captives to limits placed on our imaginations when it comes to the true meaning of democracy and freedom. Yet nothing can kill the imagination quicker than the report of a gun. I’ve heard it in my own quiet neighborhood, the product of a domestic quarrel down the block. Yet I didn’t run out to Walmart and buy a gun. That’s illogical.
Yet that gun report did rattle the minds of those who live nearby. The sound of that guns has had a chilling effect on the notion that we are free to live in peace and harmony. Guns are everywhere, and there’s nothing we can do about it.
At least that’s what they tell us. It’s up to us whether we choose to listen or not.