The thin logic of gun nuttery

Lindsey Graham says he “needs his own AR-15 . . . in case disaster strikes and he needs to defend his home against a roving ‘gang.’”[1] Let’s be clear about what this says.

There are likely many more probable contingencies, probably including some relating to natural disasters, that Graham almost certainly does not take a similar level of precautions for, so I will mostly discount the bit about disaster. He’s saying that even with a police force that emphasizes protecting the property of the rich,[2] he does not feel protected, does not feel safe. Really, even in the absence of a disaster.

Recall that much of the crime Graham fears here is induced by economic desperation.[3] Indeed, even when we speak of “roving gangs” in apocalyptic conditions, we are not talking about looting big screen television sets from the local Walmart. Graham is talking about defending his home and we are talking about people seeking the necessities of life. These are human beings with human needs that Graham means not to help, but rather to defend against.

I assume this one U.S. senator speaks not just for himself, but for a wider portion of the political and economic elite, as well as that portion of lower classes that identify with these concerns, portions that as a politician, he seeks financial and political support from and therefore appeals to. It thus seems likely that no amount of security will ever make the rich or anyone else feel safe from the effects of the economic inequality that so many insist upon, that with a market system, the rich rob the poor to sustain.[4]

And recall that police and guns are blunt means of exercising power over others. In the case of these elites and their supporters, they reflect and reinforce already existing political and economic power relationships (so-called “order”) that were themselves established largely through coercion.

A sane person might look at this and say that police and guns, at best, solve the wrong problem. But for the powerful and for those who in some degree identify with the powerful, the right problem is not one they’re interested in solving. They choose the wrong problem instead.

  1. [1]Tim Elfrink, “Lindsey Graham says he needs AR-15 for defense: ‘My house will be the last one that the gang will come to,’” Washington Post, March 29, 2021,
  2. [2]David Benfell, “On police,” Not Housebroken, January 9, 2021,
  3. [3]Steven E. Barkan, Criminology: A Sociological Understanding, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006); Jeffrey Reiman, The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison, 7th ed. (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2004).
  4. [4]David Benfell, “We are reaping what we have sown,” Not Housebroken, November 28, 2020,; David Benfell, “A constitutional oligarchy: Deconstructing Federalist No. 10,” Not Housebroken, December 20, 2021,; David Benfell, “The mysterious expectation that elites give a damn,” Not Housebroken, December 30, 2020,; David Benfell, “The necessary desperation,” Not Housebroken, March 8, 2021,

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