See update for April 18, 2021, at end of post.
So Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto posted the sort of anodyne response to a mass shooting in Indianapolis that’s expected, to which Matthew Shipton replied,
so sick and tired of idiot leaders like you who've probably never shot or held a gun, with your own private security teams, bashing police not letting them do their jobs, thinking gun control is the answer! How bout the 2 kids killed in Pitts yest. How would u have stopped it?
— Matthew Shipton (@MKShipton) April 17, 2021
Peduto parried weakly, responding that he’d grown up with guns and been trained in them. And to which my own comment was,
Can somebody please explain why you have to have "shot or held a gun" to know they're lethal?
— David Benfell, Ph.D. (@n4rky) April 17, 2021
In a way, however, I missed the point.
The point here, really, is that Shipton, and gun nuts like him, do not think anyone lacking gun experience has any standing whatsoever to say anything at all about guns. Shipton thinks we literally have no idea what we’re talking about. He thinks we’re idiots.
There is, of course, the matter of yet another mass shooting in Indianapolis. And using Shipton’s logic, we might suggest that, perhaps not having experienced tragedy himself, he knows nothing about it and should have nothing to say.
When folks suggest that the two sides of the gun control issue are talking past each other, this is what we’re looking at. But to leave it there would be a false equivalence.
Because Shipton complains that Peduto is “bashing police not letting them do their jobs” when in fact many, including myself, would want Peduto to go much further. And we might wonder what Shipton thinks of police “do[ing] their jobs” when, on those undoubtedly rare occasions around Pittsburgh, they pull him over for a traffic violation even as, if he is true to form, he routinely drives recklessly, aggressively, and at high speeds.
Shipton complains about “the 2 kids killed in Pitts yest,” and, presumably drawing on the “good man with a gun” idea, demands to know of Peduto, “How would u have stopped it?” Because, obviously, the police didn’t, and perhaps less obviously, neglects the many gun deaths that occur because the guns are out there, available whether their users are “good” or “bad.”
Those two kids killed in Pittsburgh and the people dead in Indianapolis add to a lengthy toll of deaths, each an argument against guns, and more generally, an argument against a culture of pervasive violence manifest in everything from allegedly “patriotic” celebrations of militarism to road rage to “action” television shows to football and hockey. And, of course, with white supremacists, other assholes out in the woods, and unfortunately not just out in the woods, and especially notably around Pittsburgh. It’s a culture that gun nuts largely bring to the rest of us that reflects an entirely different and entirely incompatible notion of “peaceful coexistence.”
So here’s my suggestion for Shipton and others like him. Y’all pack your guns, your COVID-19 denial, your vaccine hesitancy, your right-wing conspiracy theories, your hatred, and take a trip down to Florida. Pick up Donald Trump and his family. And y’all go to Wyoming. And build yourselves a wall. Y’all like walls, right? Build yourselves a wall around the entire state. Make it nice and high. Top it with all the razor wire you like. Sink it down through earth’s crust right down to the fucking mantle. And lock the rest of us out. You’ll be nice and safe there.
Update, April 18, 2021: Matthew Shipton’s response, prior to my blocking him, informs me that I struck a nerve.
- Actually, I have shot guns, once a .22 rifle at summer camp, and another when a cousin (on my father’s side) took me out to the desert near Hemet, California, to go shooting. And I owned guns in a time when I thought the second amendment means something from what it actually does: David Benfell, “Deconstructing the second amendment,” Not Housebroken, October 5, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/10/04/deconstructing-the-second-amendment/. But that’s really not very much experience.↩
- Steve Almasy, Jason Hanna and Amanda Watts, “Police ID gunman who killed 8 people at an Indianapolis FedEx facility as 19-year-old former employee,” CNN, April 17, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/16/us/indianapolis-shooting-fedex-facility/index.html↩
- David Benfell, “At the point of a gun,” Not Housebroken, April 15, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/04/13/at-the-point-of-a-gun/↩
- David Benfell, “Hate, Pittsburgh Style,” Not Housebroken, April 6, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/04/06/hate-pittsburgh-style/↩
- John Gramlich, “What the data says about gun deaths in the U.S.,” Pew Research Center, August 16, 2019, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/08/16/what-the-data-says-about-gun-deaths-in-the-u-s/↩
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Pape and Keven Ruby, “The Capitol Rioters Aren’t Like Other Extremists,” Atlantic, February 2, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/02/the-capitol-rioters-arent-like-other-extremists/617895/; Joshua Partlow, “Politics at the point of a gun,” Washington Post, July 28, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/07/28/conservative-armed-militias-protests-coronavirus/; Katelyn Polantz, “Justice Department says an Oath Keepers leader waited for Trump’s direction before Capitol attack,” CNN, February 11, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/11/politics/oath-keeper-justice-trump-capitol/index.html; Anne Quito and Amanda Shendruk, “Decoding the flags and banners seen at the Capitol Hill insurrection,” Quartz, January 7, 2021, https://qz.com/1953366/decoding-the-pro-trump-insurrectionist-flags-and-banners/; Rashawn Ray and Rebecca Shankman, “How COVID-19 is changing the gun debate,” Brookings, June 17, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2020/06/17/how-covid-19-is-changing-the-gun-debate/; Richard Read, “Ammon Bundy, veteran of armed standoffs, builds militia network on COVID backlash,” Los Angeles Times, February 9, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-02-09/idaho-ammon-bundy; Tony Romm, “Fake cures and other coronavirus conspiracy theories are flooding WhatsApp, leaving governments and users with a ‘sense of panic,’” Washington Post, March 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/03/02/whatsapp-coronavirus-misinformation/; Kayla Ruble, Laura Vozzella, and Devlin Barrett, “Whitmer plotters also discussed kidnapping Virginia Gov. 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; Ryan Deto, “The FBI declared Pgh. a new hub for white supremacy. That ignores decades of history,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, November 16, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/civil-rights-social-justice/the-fbi-declared-pgh-a-hub-for-white-supremacy-it-has-a-long-history-already/; Kim Lyons, “Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Cartoonist Fired as Paper Shifts Right,” New York Times, June 15, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/15/business/media/pittsburgh-cartoonist-fired.html; Moriah Ella Mason, “Pittsburgh Doesn’t Need More Guns — We Need Less White Supremacy,” Forward, October 29, 2018, https://forward.com/scribe/413104/pittsburgh-doesnt-need-more-guns-we-need-less-white-supremacy/; Ewan Palmer, “FBI Warn White Supremacist Activity in Pittsburgh Among Highest in Country,” Newsweek, November 13, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/pittsburgh-white-supremacist-fbi-far-right-1547149↩