Conflicting Gun Violence Narratives

So, a couple of years ago, the jiu jitsu on the Right about gun violence against blacks was the standard “We need more guns” panacaea that always comes from Gun Culture.  Here’s the inimitable Ann Coulter issuing the standard party line:

All would be well if black people went around armed to the teeth, ready to fight off violence against them.

Sarah Silverman saw comedy gold in this and did not hesitate to exploit it.

But, of course, she is a godless left winger so the mantra went marching on that it is vital to get as much technology of mass slaughter into as many hands as possible, because free citizens will need it when Obama sends the 101st Airborne in to impose shariah law and march us into concentration camps.

The vision of the Uprising of Citizen Soldiers against the imminent totalitarian regime is one of the most cherished myths of gun culture, enabling it to overlook 30,000 real deaths every year in favor of the millions of imaginary deaths it will prevent when ObamaHitler comes to take all our guns.

Only, well, here’s the thing: when the Police really do behave like Police State police, killing unarmed black kids, arresting politicians and journalists who are trying to see what they are up to, and behaving exactly like the occupying army of NRA fantasies, suddenly the scenari0 becomes concrete–and not at all according to plan for a lot of gun culture.  As a reader wrote:

You’re living in a neighborhood where men in bulletproof vests who have already killed an unarmed teenager which is how this whole thing started, are at war with your friends and neighbors. They’re setting off flash grenades (which can cause burns and injuries), they’re spewing tear gas directly at people in their own yards, they’re driving around in armored cars, they’re brandishing guns. Chances are you’re going to grab what weapons you have that might actually work to protect yourself and your neighbors from the bastards. If you happen to have a gun, it won’t be much good because of all the flak gear, right? Throwing a rock or a two-by-four might work but probably not. Okay, you’ve got glass bottles, you’ve got accellerant of some kind, you’ve got matches? Let’s roll.

And yet, strangely, when this NRA dream scenario of Citizen Soldiers Fighting the Power takes place, the people who are most fanatically supportive of the NRA as guarantor of protection from the Police State suddenly side with the jackbooted thugs who haunt their nightmares and presume the guilt of the subject population, even when the jackbooted thugs are arresting the press that is trying to find out what they are up to.

The rather clear message being sent is this: White guys with guns shooting at people and blowing things up when fantasy evil black Muslim Obama comes to impose shariah, take their money, and give it to worthless welfare blacks and Latinos are courageous patriots like Cliven “Let me tell you about the Negro and use women and children as human shields” Bundy.

 Black guys with guns shooting at people and blowing things up when real police state goons are shooting at them are thugs.

That’s not to say I think civilians rioting and blowing stuff up in Ferguson, MO are justified anymore than the nutjobs who almost went to war in Nevada were.  It’s to say that the whole fantasy that roving mobs of civilian vigilantes are going to re-establish the Second Continental Congress is insane, as is so much gun culture rhetoric.  And it’s to say that if you don’t think race is a factor in what we choose to see and not see when it comes to gun violence, you are in denial.

And it is most of all to say that it is vital to unplug from the rhetoric of the human philosophies that govern our discourse in this country and return to the Church’s teaching and its preferential option for life, in which the first question is “How do we do all we can to minimize harm and violence to the human person?” and not “When do we *get* to harm and kill people?”


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