NPR ran a story about guns and gun control. Part of it included an interview with a gun lobbyist from Colorado who rehearsed the usual litany about the inviolability of the Second Amendment, which he understands to establish a universal, unlimited right, and how the nation would be safer if more people carried guns, especially teachers. It wasn’t until the end of the interview that he said something more revealing. It was the because clause. Everything in his prior argument was because our freedoms are being taken away and we cannot trust the government.
That’s the key isn’t it? At least for him, the gun arguments are a way of expressing his irrational fear that his freedoms are being stripped away by a tyrannical government. Several local acquaintances are of the same opinion. It’s all about anxious fear that freedom is being taken away. To me their fears are irrational to the point of being psychotic, but are they?
In some ways they are right. Their freedom to prevent others from enjoying the same rights they have always had has been steadily eroded over the last forty years. The laws will no longer prop up a huge arsenal of segregation practices that they once endorsed. They are still enormous issues in our society, and will be for years to come, but with the laws no longer behind them, the customary practices that continue to give them life are slowly dying.
Their freedom to rely on white men to hold the reins of power is gone. A black man is in the White House. Some are even generals and admirals. Women lead legislative bodies, and are named to top posts in government and business. The local preacher is more likely to be female than male. Hispanic sounding names keep getting on ballots. Gays and lesbians are pouring out their closets, sometimes onto the sacred turf of manly men sports. Moslems are everywhere. Hordes of illegal immigrants and outsourced jobs are ruining the economy, and it doesn’t take much of that kind of talk to craft a comprehensive story line that relishes a Rambo like response as the only one left.
Then along comes the NSA to put the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval on even the most bizarre conspiracy theory. “Aha, they really are conspiring to get me!” After all, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out there. A hoodied robber in every 7-11. A kidnapper in every Walmart parking lot. Carjackings at every corner. Gang signs on every teenager. Oh we got trouble right here in River City and only my weapons will keep me safe from THEY and them and probably from you too.
It makes a certain kind of sense from that point of view.