They’re taking our guns away!

As I have previously noted, the gun nuttery in Pennsylvania is strong and appears white supremacist in motivation.[1] Democrats might score a political point in pushing so-called “common sense” gun legislation,[2] but my version of “common sense” suggests they won’t change a single solitary thing.

On the national level, I’m quoting here all but the initial greeting in the opening monologue from this morning’s (August 10) Quartz Daily Brief newsletter:

Americans are exceptionally more likely to be gunned down in a public place than residents of any other country in the world.

This exceptionalism is a choice, one made each time nothing is done to limit access to military weapons after the latest burst of killing. Increasingly, the exceptionalism is linked to the white nationalist rhetoric embraced by president Donald Trump and the Republican party.

Don’t forget it as you view Trump’s photo op: He and his wife Melania held an orphaned baby whose parents were among the 22 people gunned down in El Paso, Texas. In the photo, Trump is grinning and offering a thumbs-up.

The killer in El Paso, like killers at synagogues in Pittsburgh and Poway, or mosques in Christchurch and Quebec, cited rhetoric mainstreamed by Trump. Everyone knows what Trump and Fox News do when they describe non-white people with words like “infestation” and “vermin” and “invasion,” talk of “sending them back” and “shooting them,” and warn of “murderers” and “rapists.”

We know because we’ve studied genocides, ethnic violence, and hate crimes for decades. This rhetoric gives people permission to act. To call it a dog whistle disrespects canine subtlety.

We also know that many Republicans look the other way, because without white nationalism their political coalition could fall apart. That coalition also needs guns, and the money provided by the gun lobby. Already, the scandal-ridden head of the National Rifle Association is on the phone with the US president, telling him that his voters won’t support background checks on gun owners.

You will hear that gun restrictions are too complicated to enforce, even though history in Australia and South Africa shows it isn’t so.

The shooter in Dayton, Ohio was not apparently motivated by politics. But though he was recognized by many in his life as dangerous and unstable, he was able to buy an AR-15 variant and a 100-round drum magazine over the internet. A year from now, will there be any US federal laws in place to prevent a similar purchase?

I doubt there will be an exception. —Tim Fernholz[3]

The Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader’s spokeswoman insists “we cannot take action that will criminalize the millions of Pennsylvanians who responsibly and legally own firearms.” But that’s not even what’s proposed. It’s a straw person argument:

Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa of Forest Hills and state Rep. Ed Gainey of Lincoln-Lemington, both Democrats, said Republican leaders are holding up “common sense” legislation, including expanded background checks for gun purchases and a so-called extreme risk protection bill allowing courts to remove guns from a person deemed a public risk.[4]

In the Quartz newsletter, Tim Fernholz talks about “nothing [being] done to limit access to military weapons after the latest burst of killing.”[5]

Nobody is talking about hunting rifles. Nobody is talking about the sort of sidearms that could legally be concealed without a permit under one state lawmaker’s proposal.[6] They’re talking about military weapons that are suitable in the same contexts as all those heavy artillery pieces I see here all over the fucking place.[7]

Mind you, I wish they were talking about those non-military weapons. This is the kind of place where one of my passengers told me he keeps a handgun between his knees when he drives as a defense against road rage. I’m guessing he is not, by a very long shot, the only one. (Remember that nearly the only traffic enforcement I see here is against Blacks.) The madness here lacks only the formality of duelling. But that’s not at issue here, even if it should be.

  1. [1]David Benfell, “‘Gun rights’ as white supremacism,” Not Housebroken, August 4, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/04/gun-rights-as-white-supremacism/; Jon Delano, “Lawrence Co. Lawmaker Wants To Abolish Concealed Carry Gun Permits,” KDKA, May 7, 2019, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2019/05/07/aaron-bernstine-abolish-pennsylvania-concealed-carry-law/
  2. [2]Bob Bauder, “Pittsburgh mayor Peduto, state lawmakers call for vote on Pa. gun bills,” TribLive, August 9, 2019, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/peduto-state-lawmakers-call-for-vote-on-gun-bills/
  3. [3]Tim Fernholz, in Quartz to Daily Brief list, “Weekend edition—Gun control, trade-war winners, escape rooms,” August 10, 2019, https://qz.com/emails/daily-brief/
  4. [4]Bob Bauder, “Pittsburgh mayor Peduto, state lawmakers call for vote on Pa. gun bills,” TribLive, August 9, 2019, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/peduto-state-lawmakers-call-for-vote-on-gun-bills/
  5. [5]Tim Fernholz, in Quartz to Daily Brief list, “Weekend edition—Gun control, trade-war winners, escape rooms,” August 10, 2019, https://qz.com/emails/daily-brief/
  6. [6]Jon Delano, “Lawrence Co. Lawmaker Wants To Abolish Concealed Carry Gun Permits,” KDKA, May 7, 2019, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2019/05/07/aaron-bernstine-abolish-pennsylvania-concealed-carry-law/
  7. [7]David Benfell, “‘Gun rights’ as white supremacism,” Not Housebroken, August 4, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/04/gun-rights-as-white-supremacism/

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