Deer hunters look askance at anyone who shows up in the woods with an AR-15 rifle and a 30-shot banana clip. Turkey hunters and duck hunters do not use assault weapons to track their prey. Sensible people who keep a weapon for home protection usually have a shotgun. The M-16 knockoffs that float around the gunners’ universe have only one real function: hunting humans. And the re-emerging debate in the aftermath of the Newtown, Connecticut massacre is not about guns, it is about politics and the organizations who dress themselves in the Second Amendment in order to better sell arch-conservative and racist, bigoted notions of American life.
Actually, the gun lobbies know this. “The Second Amendment is not about duck hunting,” Gun Owners of America executive Larry Pratt told a room full of Aryan-types in 1992. At the time, he was advocating the formation of militias as a part of the battle against the federal government. It was an idea that came to full fruition with Timothy McVeigh and the 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City.
More recently the fact-challenged Pratt told a CNN television audience, “The problem is not going to go away if we ban this or that gun. We’ve tried that. That doesn’t work. Doesn’t even work in England. You have mass murders there all over Europe.” In actuality, the United States firearm related death rate exceeds that of England and the European countries by multiple numbers. In the USA, where there are 89 guns per 100 persons, the gun homicide rate is 3.7 per 100,000 people. In England, where there are six guns per 100, the gun homicide rate is .04 per 100,000. In France the rate is .22, in Austria it is .18, in Germany it is .06, according to the World Health Organization and other agencies that keep track of such data. Among those who have benefitted from the largess of Pratt’s Gun Owners political contributions, please count Kris Kobach, now Kansas Secretary of State.
Consider the Tea Partiers who have most recently joined this discussion. Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips wrote, “There is one simple truth here. Guns are not responsible for what happened yesterday. Liberals were.” His solution: arm the teachers. As if the prospect of being shot by a teacher and dying would deter all these mass murderers who kill themselves anyway.
The Patriot Action Network made the same specious argument. So did Oath Keepers, which offered to provide free instruction in firearms and other methods of “self-defense” to teachers. In Asheville, North Carolina Tea Partiers held a fundraising raffle for an assault rifle like the one used in Connecticut. Asked by the press if it was inappropriate to do so at the current time, the local Tea Party boss said that more guns in the hands of law abiding citizens would decrease gun violence, a proposition that is only countermanded by the facts.
The most ridiculous proposition on this side of the street, however, belongs to David Duke. He blamed Jews, of course. “Guns did not create the horror in the little school,” he said, “the Zio-masters of the media did. They have devoured the real America.” (As a point of disclosure, David Duke has also described this writer as a “Jewish supremacist.”)
Again, much of this discussion has very little to do with guns or gun control.