Thomas Jefferson Didn't Own An AR-15
Have you bought your AR-15 yet? Do you have enough ammunition? Are you ready to shoot your way to freedom and security? And what about a stockpile of food, and reserves of water? How long can you hold out on your own when the end comes, or when the tyrants in Washington come goose-stepping to your front door?
Press accounts of the long lines at gun dealers’ shops nationwide reflect gun and ammunition prices are soaring. A friend even saw her doctor standing on line to buy a gun on a news clip. It’s like a collective psychosis. Just what are we preparing for?
When I was in grade school in Chicago we were required to participate in safety drills. An alarm would go off, and we’d all be required to huddle under our desks. You see, the Russians might launch a nuclear weapon. The blast would be ferocious, we were told: it would destroy everything. We needed to look away from the windows to avoid being blinded by the flash or having our eyes filled with shards of glass.
I learned fear and paranoia with my ABCs.
In hindsight, the safety drills seem almost silly. Come the holocaust, what were the odds that we’d survive if our city were blown to smithereens? Indeed, who’d want to survive a nuclear winter, in a world in which civilization was destroyed and only zombies stalked the earth?
I imagined living through the blasts, and being one of the few folks left alive. I’d find a car, learn to drive it, and head to Washington, D.C., where a stash of secret papers would undoubtedly explain just how and why the human race had decided to destroy itself. I guess I assumed that someone was in control, that there was an inchoate sense to the world, and to events, and that I could learn what it was. I’m older now, and realize just how silly the fantasy of order really was.
What fantasies of survival elementary do kids tell themselves today as we arm ourselves in preparation for, well, what exactly?
Listening to gun advocates, we need to arm ourselves as an act of patriotic necessity. Evil tyrants lurk, or so we are told. Joshua Barton, a former Marine, found his fifteen minutes of fame writing an angry letter to House Majority Leader Diane Feinstein. “I will not register my weapons,” he tells her. He won’t tell the government how many weapons he owns. “I am a patriot,” not a servant, subject or a peasant, he says.
And what of Alex Jones? He started a petition to deport television personality Piers Morgan because Morgan, a British national, is calling for gun control. “We [started the petition] to point out that this is globalism and the mega banks that control the planet and brag that they’ve taken over in Bloomberg, AP, Reuters, you name it, brag that they are going to get our guns as well,” Jones barked on national television. Uh, Alex. Did you forget the Trilateral Commission and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion?
A good friend of mine, a criminal defense lawyer, told me the other day that his guns would have to be pried from his cold, dead fingers. Another gun advocate recently threatened to shoot to kill anyone who touched his guns. Continued...
All this looks more like collective madness: Just how many times must I be able to imagine killing my neighbor before I can put my head down on the pillow for a good night’s sleep?
Barton’s letter is a twisted farce, not a patriot’s prayer. Students of classics will recognize him as a stereotype drawn from Plato’s Republic: he’s got plenty of spirit, but little sense, a perfect guardian in arms, but lacking the sense to govern. He looks like a corporate stooge.
Gun manufacturers are having a field day. Shares in publicly traded gun companies have doubled and tripled in value in recent weeks. Gun store owners are selling their stock as quickly as it arrives. There is profit to be made in arming us to the teeth and telling us that guns are good for us, as American as Jefferson, Hamilton and even George Washington themselves.
All this patriotic double talk about guns obscures a larger truth: The sometime patriots who arm themselves against a tyrant are often the same people who complain bitterly about big government. Yet, I cannot recall the last time a gun was used in an act of political violence or resistance. In other words, when you call the armed patriot’s bluff, you learn quickly enough that all this talk about guns and liberty is simply white noise.
When Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in Arizona in 2011, my first reaction was: “It’s about time.” I wasn’t rooting for her death or for mayhem, but it struck me that the rage and frustration of the millions of forgotten Americans locked out of their homes, health care and the American dream might have erupted to the point of forcing violent change. History is made of such stuff, after all. Real patriots sometimes bleed. But it turned out that Giffords’ shooter was mentally ill.
An observation of Ted Rall’s strikes me as apt. European social legislation is generally more progressive because European history is far longer and more violent than ours: The bloodlines of the ruling elite in Europe have from time to time bled in response to social revolution. We simply don’t revolt in the United States.
Of course, there was the American Revolution, but a revolution of slave owners and propertied colonists against a distant overload is hardly a social revolution.
Today’s gun patriots are corporate dupes. They are arming themselves out of fear of one another. They say they’re worried about tyranny, but not a one of them is serious about social change. Big government and big corporations pull the strings of the death economy. Somehow, they’ve managed to sell us destruction draped in a flag.
I’m not buying. I just don’t see Thomas Jefferson hawking AK-47s, and, if he were to do so, I’d say so much the worse for him.
Reprinted courtesy of the Journal Register Company.