The Demonization of Gun Owners
“In light of recent events, I’m really concerned about your safety. So for your birthday, I bought you a pistol. It’s relatively small caliber, features a safety, great for a beginner. I also bought you some lessons from a qualified instructor so you can get your concealed carry permit. Happy birthday!”
Consider the above. Many of us can think of friends, spouses, or significant others who would be delighted—indeed staggered—by such a generous gift. However, it’s not difficult to think of others who would be offended, outraged, or even sickened by it. With the effortless uniformity of thought and action characteristic of North Korean mass games or a typical sociology class, progressives are rejoicing that they have found a white shooter in Newton, Connecticut, so they can try to disarm the American people. Accompanying the political posturing and concern trolling by the likes of sinister clown Joe Biden is a hate campaign against gun owners as inherently dangerous, unstable, and even unpatriotic.
Whites who don’t favor the active genocide of their own race are used to being demonized as “racists.” Progressives exposed to something as uncontroversial as racial differences in intelligence simply reply with moral outrage and priggish posturing (“I have to take a shower,” and so forth). Inanimate objects are now creating the same kind of reaction. Like Victorian hysterics, progressives now blanche, swoon, and vapor at the very thought of people owning guns they don’t “need.”
A relative at Christmas, unaware that I own several firearms, blithely commented that “Only the police should have guns. Gun owners are crazy and dangerous and should be in jail, to protect the rest of us.” Concealed carry permit holders, who are far less likely to commit crimes than the general population, are charged with secretly lusting to murder children. Meanwhile, the Left, operating, as always, without irony, is merrily tweeting away death threats to their political opponents.
I’ve written elsewhere that the Left’s current campaign against guns is closely linked to its overall anti-white agenda. The current debate has been refreshingly frank about the use of firearms by whites to defend against non-white crime. The Left simply charges that whites have a duty to die as a form of penance for past sins against egalitarianism. However, what is occurring is something broader than the usual genocidal impulse against the hated white male. The progressive reaction to Newtown reveals that the utopian impulse at the heart of the modern Left is the desire to escape responsibility itself.
Rights, Not Duties
The end of responsibility is really the end of citizenship. Back when America was a real country, citizenship was a duty owed to the larger society. A citizen is a member of the political community who enjoys certain guarantees in exchange for fulfilling various responsibilities. In a republic, each full citizen has a public role. At the time the Second Amendment was written, the armed defense of the country was held to be a responsibility of the citizen, harkening back to the Germanic conception of the right to bear arms as the key indicator of both freedom and at least some political authority.
Today, citizenship is a burden, offering punishment and censure rather than full participation in political life. The founding stock of the country is actively discriminated against in jobs, education, and financial aid, and is utterly cut off from meaningful political participation in many of the nation’s largest cities on account of our race. Meanwhile, immigrants and their advocates protest that they are “second-class citizens” when in actuality they are not citizens at all. As recipients of free medical care, tax exemptions, state-sponsored ethnic solidarity, and a vast system of patronage and welfare set up for their benefit, those who are not part of the political community are more assiduously courted than actual Americans. The vote is an all but meaningless privilege, for, even if votes are counted, elections lead to results exactly opposed to what voters say they supported.
The reason this is tolerated is because being part of a people is a duty that white progressives do not want. The mark of adulthood is taking responsibility for both one’s own support and the continuation of one’s line and (it follows) the larger folk of which one is a part. This is no longer a societal expectation. Indeed, it’s practically immoral. Diana West notes in The Death of the Grown-Up that the very concept of the “teenager” free from adult responsibility is a modern invention, and the definition of teenager now seems to be extending into the twenties and thirties. It is no accident that this coincides with the rise of racial egalitarianism in the West.
Whatever the intents of the Founding Fathers, the mistake of ascribing “self-evident” and “inalienable” rights to individuals qua individuals undermined the very republican virtues needed to sustain the experiment. The premise of classical liberalism is that each person is autonomous, equal in some cosmic sense, and ideally unburdened by any tradition or restriction upon his or her sacred “choice.” The problem is that Man in the abstract, as Joseph de Maistre observed, is a creature that does not exist. After the promises of the Declaration of Independence, which even the slave-owning, white supremacist founders did not really believe, any limitations imposed by culture, history, location, family, and nature itself became tyrannical.
Of course, once you’ve liberated yourself from an organic society, you’ve also liberated yourself from any concrete loyalties or responsibilities. If the purpose of life is the pursuit of “happiness” through freely chosen obligations, any kind of “duty” rankles. Why should a deracinated individual care whether his line continues? Why should it be his job to bear arms for the state (or against the state, as the case may be) when he could be making money? Indeed, as long as technology and economic circumstances permit, why shouldn’t the accumulation of belongings and pleasurable sensations proceed for the entirety of one’s life, unencumbered by any restrictions?
Unfortunately, limitations do exist. The story of modern liberalism is the rebellion against these limitations, with the glorious victories against discrimination by race, sex, age, national origin, sexual preference, physical status, appearance, and other facts of life serving as the Stations of the Cross for the new progressive litany. The latest frontier is the rebellion against gender identification, as progressives who refuse to say they are men or women seek to trump Nature, the ultimate Fascist. This is not some crazy liberal scheme, but the logical conclusion of the very founding principles that Glenn Beck blubbers about on his internet channel each night.
Of course, as equality and the demands for unencumbered choice are defined more broadly, state power is required to enforce the ever-expanding mandates. An army of academics, lawyers, and subsidized “activists” are also on hand to document prior incidents of “privilege” that the government must ameliorate in order to ensure equality of opportunity. Thus, a business owner’s decision about whom to hire, a joke told at lunch, or the establishment of gender-segregated toilets suddenly become matters of urgent public concern, with legislation, lawsuits, and punitive action following in the wake of each new step towards equality. The quest for individual liberation culminates in an almost unlimited expansion of government, as every business, personal, sexual, or even romantic interaction must be carefully regulated by all the powers of the state.
Guns, “Freedom,” the New Class, & Social Control
On the surface, guns are actually a step towards equality. Guns give the physically weak a way to defend against the strong, as neuroscientist and pop intellectual Sam Harris has described. A world without guns is not a more peaceful world, but a more savage one, where brute strength allows bullies to exploit people incapable of fighting back.
Nonetheless, Leftists oppose guns at a primal level because they provide a way for citizens to exercise power without going through their managerial state. Since the rise of the New Class described by James Burnham, political power in the West has not rested so much on religion or even money but on the ability to regulate behavior. Americans are ruled by a whole system of administrators based in courts and bureaucracies that mandate and enforce through state power what forms social interactions may take. With their apologists in the media and academia and control of credentials and licensing, the “managerial class” can regulate everyday behavior more totally than any king. Minorities and the various victim classes are invaluable because they provide both the justification and ideological support to maintain the political class.
What does this mean in everyday life? It means that you know, instinctively, that if the wrong person sees something you wrote, overhears a joke, misinterprets a comment, or just feels like destroying you, there’s nothing you can do about it. The tyranny of the New Class is why there are certain situations that you instinctively steer clear of, because there is no way you can win. You know the System is against you.
More importantly, in a life or death situation, the System is far more concerned with protecting itself than protecting you. It’s not just that “When seconds count, the police are minutes away.” It’s that it’s better to commit a crime than actually punish the criminal yourself. The entire network of human rights, constitutional guarantees, and all the rest are a way for the state to criminalize attempts at self-protection. Make no mistake—the horror stories from Britain of robbers suing homeowners for attacking them is not a system out of control. It’s a system operating precisely as it was designed to.
The case of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin is instructive. At this point, it is beyond dispute that Zimmerman was actually attacked. However, Leftists argue that he never should have approached Martin to begin with. The fact that he was a “neighborhood watchmen” only makes it worse; Zimmerman was “untrained” and committed a dire offense by trying to enforce social order himself rather than relying on the police. The failure of the police to stop repeated (and reported) criminal activity over a period of months is irrelevant. It’s precisely because Zimmerman did his job effectively that he should be punished.
A gun allows a citizen to take responsibility for his own security and the security of his family. To a Leftist, this is frightening because it means that a person is acting without ideological supervision. Leftist demands for “training,” “education,” and “licensing,” in guns and most everything else is simply a way of asserting dominance over uncontrolled social interactions. In the modern context, “freedom” does not mean freedom to act without restriction on your own property or to interact with others provided you don’t violate their basic rights. Instead, “freedom” means the right to act only in accordance with government-determined social norms.
What’s this all leading to? A kind of permanent childhood. The citizen is relieved of his duty to protect the political community, protect his family, and protect himself. If anything, he’s actually discouraged from having a family or any kind of loyalty beyond himself, as even institutions like churches or civic organizations like the Boy Scouts are viewed with suspicion. All mediating forces between the now powerless individual and the managerial Leviathan are to be stripped away.
The reward is a life free of responsibility. Paradoxically, as the state grows in power, its expectations of the individual decrease. It’s absurd to imagine the government today rallying the “militia,” because the average American would be incapable or unwilling to respond. Instead, citizens of a modern democracy can live their lives knowing that every product they buy, service they use, or group they participate in has been carefully registered and licensed by state authorities. Eventually, as in Europe, this will extend even to ideas they may hear, or, as in the workplace already, conversations they may have. This is an attractive vision for Last Men. It removes the obligation to have to think about politics, about the future of the community, or about anything other than consumption. As Alexis de Tocqueville predicted in Democracy in America in 1831:
I wish to imagine under what new features despotism might appear in the world: I see an innumerable crowd of men, all alike and equal, turned in upon themselves in a restless search for those petty, vulgar pleasures with which they fill their souls. Each of them, living apart, is almost unaware of the destiny of all the rest. His children and personal friends are for him the whole of the human race; as for the remainder of his fellow citizens, he stands alongside them but does not see them; he touches them without feeling them; he exists only in himself and for himself; if he still retains his family circle, at any rate he may be said to have lost his country. . . . Above these men stands an immense and protective power which alone is responsible for looking after their enjoyments and watching over their destiny. It is absolute, meticulous, ordered, provident, and kindly disposed. It would be like a fatherly authority, if, fatherlike, its aims were to prepare men for manhood, but it seeks only to keep them in perpetual childhood; it prefers its citizens to enjoy themselves provided they have only enjoyment in mind. It works readily for their happiness but it wishes to be the only provider and judge of it. It provides their security, anticipates and guarantees their needs, supplies their pleasures, directs their principal concerns, manages their industry, regulates their estates, divides their inheritances. Why can it not remove them entirely from the bother of thinking and the troubles of life?
Therefore, the only freedoms that are allowed are ones that further “enjoyment.” There’s a reason why Prohibition of alcohol has become unthinkable even as prohibition of guns is now debated. Certainly, alcohol kills more people than guns. Alcohol also provides no concrete benefits beyond pleasure, whereas a gun can save someone’s life. Alcohol, like guns, can be dangerous in the wrong hands. Nonetheless, Americans accept beer commercials on TV in a way they would never accept rifle commercials precisely because the product is an amusement, an anesthetization against adult action. It doesn’t remove power from the managerial state or question the moral basis of the System in the same way as gun ownership. An addict is tolerated, even coddled by our society. A responsible gun owner is feared.
Our system relieves a person of having to suffer moral responsibility for anything. The decisions have already been made. Thus we have black progressive Ta-Nehisi Coates admitting that since he knows he will die someday, he would rather be shot than own a firearm and take the power of life and death upon himself. It is literally better to die—better even to let one’s children die—than be armed.
As Lawrence Auster points out, to kill is the ultimate act of discrimination, because it involves the value judgment that my life and the lives of those I love are more important than the life of another. While gun owners are stigmatized as “fearful,” it’s actually progressives who seem to be trembling at the thought of white people who don’t go along with the program. As Nietzsche said, “No shepherd and one herd! Everybody wants the same, everybody is the same: whoever feels different goes voluntarily into a madhouse.”
Or in our version, you get forced into the playhouse. Alcohol, perverted sexuality, video games, and all the rest are simply blocks for big kids. The adults of the economic and financial elite make the big decisions, but you get to run around with toys and not have to worry about anything. “Freedom” in this sense is the freedom to play.
Gun owners are proof that people can exist and survive outside the managerial state’s system of control. As with homeschoolers, traditional religious communities, and, well, “racists,” guns present a greater moral danger to the Left than a physical danger. When the people are disarmed, it does not mean that insurrection suddenly becomes impossible because the military equation has changed. It means that insurrection is impossible because psychologically Americans will have admitted they cannot live without an egalitarian bureaucracy informing them how to behave and what to think, and they will not allow others to do so. Gun owners are hated because they say that playtime is over. We’re hated because we say it is time to grow up.
1. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America and Two Essays on America, trans. Gerald E. Bevan, ed. Isaac Kramnick (New York: Penguin, 2003), p. 805.
2. Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, in The Portable Nietzsche, ed. and trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Penguin, 1954), p. 130.