© Josh Sager – June 2014
The United States is suffering an epidemic of gun violence that sets us apart from the rest of the developed world. Put simply, the United States experiences a per capita gun murder rate that is orders of magnitude larger than most European countries, never mind the casualties from accidental discharges and suicides.
Gun laws in our country are weak (ex. TX), easily circumvented (ex. the gun show loophole), or simply not updated to account for the modern age (ex. online gun sales), thus criminals and the mentally ill have an easy time getting guns—these unstable or violent people then use these guns to kill their fellow citizens, and oftentimes, themselves. Unfortunately, any attempts to constrict these inadequate laws are opposed by the NRA, a legion of gun fetishists, and organized money by the gun industry.
Even after tragedies like the Sandy Hook, Aurora, or Santa Barbara massacres, those who fight gun control reform remain unshaken in their desire to make it easy for everybody to access guns: The sad and paranoid gun nuts who cling to their guns out of a crippling fear of their neighbors, the government, and the imagined boogeyman of globalist invaders, are blind to the real carnage that guns are wrecking in their country today; the corrupt and greedy gun lobbyists see money in the gun murder epidemic and seek only to promote the sale of more weapons; finally, the media refuses to call out the gun nuts and lobbyists, because it would be “impolite” or “not fair and balanced” to point out that those who oppose gun control reform are almost always either deranged, greedy, or ignorant.
We must face the reality that there is no tragedy which can sway the gun extremists and lobbyists from their gun anarchist position—no number of murdered children, grieving families, or moments of silence will make them change their minds, because they simply don’t see these things past their own precious weapons.
A look into the Gun Extremist Mind
After the Santa Barbara mass shooting, Sam “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher wrote a letter to the families of victims expressing his opinions on gun control—in this letter he said the following:
“I am sorry you lost your child. I myself have a son and daughter and the one thing I never want to go through, is what you are going through now. But: As harsh as this sounds — your dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights.”
Disregarding the dismissive tone of this quote and the absolute lack of decency in sending such sentiments to parents who just buried their children, Joe the plumber has actually captured the thought processes of the right wing gun extremists perfectly. They have convinced themselves that the Constitution justifies their obsession with guns, and have lost all consideration for any other Americans’ rights.
In the mind of the gun nut, their ownership of a gun will protect them and their families, and anybody not to own a gun is simply asking to be shot at. This creates an illusion of security that allows them to justify loose gun laws—after all, if somebody attacks their families, they think that they will be the “good guy with a gun” who stops the bad guy with a gun and becomes a hero.
What to do Now?
Currently, gun nuts have an electoral advantage because they are more regular in their voting and tend to have the single overriding issue of “gun rights” (they won’t ever vote for an anti-gun candidate). This allows them to gain disproportionate representation in the legislature and even recall politicians who support gun sanity (recalls are elections where only the most motivated turn up).
Americans who support gun sanity need to emulate the gun nuts by getting just as focused and activated as the gun extremists—we must vote for pro-gun control candidates with as much fervor as the gun nuts do their anti-gun control candidates. If the gun nuts try to primary or recall a pro-gun sanity candidate, we must turn out in force to defend them; if a politician obstructs gun control reform or tries to weaken gun laws, we must make an example of them and send them home during their next election without a job.
Politicians vote in their own electoral interests, and gun control supporters need to make a vote against gun control so costly that even the threat of the NRA’s wrath doesn’t make politicians wary to vote in favor of gun sanity.
In addition to working through the public sector to achieve change, we must put economic pressure on any brand or corporation to support the gun lobby or the open carry movement. This pressure can take many forms, from boycotts to advertising campaigns, but it must by highly organized and publicized.
Eventually, through a combination of public and private pressure, we can eventually turn the tides and restore gun sanity to the United States.
There is no point in trying to convince most gun extremists to support gun control—they are either too paranoid, indoctrinated, or corrupt to even consider changing their minds about the issues. As such, we simply need to overwhelm them with numbers, motivation, and the smart application of political or economic force.
While the American people only support increased gun control by a thin margin (according to a February 2014 CBS/NYTimes Poll, 54% of Americans support increased gun control), this margin dramatically increases in our favor when we talk about individual policies rather than gun control as an abstract concept (ex. over 90% of Americans support a universal background check and banning people on the terrorism watch list from buying guns). If we can tap into this support and bypass the American peoples’ ignorance on this subject, we can simply steamroller over the gun extremists and render them irrelevant in the Democratic process.