Thursday, March 1, 2018

How Decades of Fear-Stoking by the NRA and GOP Have Made Smart Gun Laws Impossible

by Nomad

Yesterday was a historic day. It was the day President Trump led the nation into an era of meaningful gun law reform and defied the all-powerful NRA.
That was the idea anyway.

If you had the stomach for it- I endured about 5 minutes- this exercise in suspending disbelief was both disturbing and fascinating.
With the cameras rolling, the president sat down with members of Congress from both parties. Calling upon the attendee to draft "comprehensive" and radical reforms, Trump declared "“It’s time that a president stepped up.”
  • Expanding background checks to weapons purchased at gun shows and on the internet? Sure, why not?
  • Keeping guns from mentally ill people? Sounds good!
  • Securing schools and restricting gun sales for some young adults? Let's do it!
At one point, Trump even suggested a debate in Congress on an assault weapons ban. He chided one Congressman, Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa, for writing legislation that didn't go far enough with age-restrictions.
“You know why? Because you’re afraid of the NRA.”
That's quite a turn-around from the other day when Trump told governors that the NRA was "on our side." Talk about sending mixed messages.

Then he threw the whole thing into the lap of Congress- which conveniently enough is dominated by NRA bought Republicans, thus ensuring that none of these things will ever be voted on. 
All in all, it was a fine (if all-too-familiar) performance. Trump is doing what Trump has always done, conning the gullible who think he is serious.
Same old Trump. Theatrics, wild promises and in the end, it's somebody else's job to somehow make it all work.

If you had the stomach for it- I endured about 5 minutes of it, this exercise in suspending disbelief was both disturbing and fascinating.
However, for those with blind second amendment devotion, what Trump said must have been extremely terrifying.

For gun activists, Trump's abrupt switch must have come as a panic-inducing shocker and a betrayal. 
The moment that Trump voiced support for confiscating guns from certain individuals deemed to be dangerous the authorities deemed dangerous "even if it violated due process" must have sent shivers up the spines of gun rights supporters. 
“I like taking the guns early, like in this crazy man’s case that just took place in Florida ... to go to court would have taken a long time.”  
Imagine that. 
And Fox News had warned them for 8 long years that it was President Obama who would be coming after their guns. But it wasn't just the propagandists at Fox and Friends. In the early days of his presidential campaign, Trump himself claimed that he had "heard" that Obama was “thinking about signing an executive order where he wants to take your guns away.”

Brainwashing through Fear

In a twitter thread from earlier this week, Professor Jared Yates Sexton, the author of the book, The People Are Go─▒ng To Rise, made some good points about psychological manipulation of gun owners.

In the middle of our gun crisis, it's important to take a look at the role strategically-inspired paranoia has played in manipulating gun owners, particularly by the GOP and NRA. Many members of my family believe they need their guns, all of them, because they're going to be fighting the armies of the UN, following a takeover or possibly a live race war.

Both are embarrassingly paranoid, but they've been cultivated for decades by parties and lobbies that benefit by perpetuating the delusion, the GOP with fear of minorities and world government, the NRA with abject fear.

But, says Sexton, it goes beyond just fear. This fear is specially tailored to fit a target audience, one with a mentality has been groomed for decades.

Lots of what the GOP does, when it talks about the 2nd Amendment, is to make rhetorical appeals that sound like the American Revolution is never-ending in that we might have to free ourselves again. I know many people who believe in their lifetimes they'll be defending their families via door-to-door insurgent-style fighting with UN forces.

This is why they "need" assault weapons. To make it a "fair" fight. I've been at shooting ranges where they hang pictures of UN troops, the UN logo, etc. In their minds, they're preparing for another revolution and they're convinced they'll see it in their lifetimes.

Candidate Trump stoked these fears throughout his campaign with imaginary tales about the threats of Islamic terrorism, raping Mexicans and out of control inner cities.

Gun RightsEnd Times and Race War

Yesterday, AP reported that a Pennsylvania church held a blessing ceremony for couples and their AR-15 rifles. The World Peace and Unification Sanctuary, a cultish religious group affiliated with Rev. Sean Moon, prayed at the ceremony for 
“a kingdom of peace police and peace militia where the citizens, through the right given to them by Almighty God to keep and bear arms, will be able to protect one another and protect human flourishing."
Even though this church is clearly on the extremist fringe, the more mainstream Christian Right has long promoted apocalyptic prophecies which the NRA has made good use of. The GOP has also profited from its appeals to conservative evangelicalism, including its end-of-the-world doctrines- ever since the time of Reagan. 
Sexton noted this connection too.

The GOP has used these manipulations to keep so many things at bay, including healthcare and programs that European countries enjoy. It's all about sovereignty and it's all tinged with Christian End Times rhetoric.

By the same token, and they'll never tell you this, but the people who stockpile these guns are also doing so because they believe minorities are planning a giant race war/revolution. This is really prevalent when you listen to anti-Antifa screeds or Islamaphobic rhetoric.

Sometimes it's as subtle as mentioning guns next to stories about crimes in the "inner-city" or by minorities, but it's right there. If you don't stockpile, you and your family are going to die in the coming race war.

Thus, anytime you talk about gun control or gun safety, it suddenly becomes a front for The New World Order, a conspiracy that's meant to literally take every gun and kill everyone.

If you want to hear it, listen to Alex Jones one day. He says it explicitly. If you give up your guns, you'll be in a camp, you'll be a genetic experiment, your wife and children will be raped or murdered by the UN or immigrants. None of this is accidental.

It's also a paranoia that is passed down unquestioned from generation to generation.

The GOP and NRA have engaged in this for years, though they've always tried to be subtle. The subtlety is fading away in a hurry. The biggest problem is that this isn't going to go away easily.

That paranoia is handed down by the generation. When parents tell their kids about the world, they seed it with fear of the New World Order, with clandestine plans. The NRA isn't going to stop. They've made way too much money to go back.

In this case, the NRA and the GOP are joined at the hip.

For this reason, any hope that a Republican Congress (or a Republican president) will ever deliver meaningful gun control is wishful thinking.

The GOP probably won't either, but they need to be held accountable whenever they try and peddle this stuff for political influence.

It's irresponsible, and it has led to deaths. Which is part of what we don't talk about ever, which is that this paranoia peddling has cost so many lives and puts everyone in constant danger, both by mass shootings and also political murders and acts of domestic terrorism.

There are very real consequences to stoking this fear, and we've seen plenty of people die. It has to be recognized, and it has to be challenged because this is as corrosive and dangerous a thing as there is going.

What do you think of Sexton's remarks?