How to unpack the creepy, disquieting factoid that gun sales over the Thanksgiving weekend shot, as it were, to a record high?
True. Upwards of 175,000 requests for background checks over Black Friday, the FBI says, which is about three requests per second, which is triple the norm but still just behind December 21, 2012, right after the Sandy Hook massacre, when gun sales freakishly skyrocketed. Because nothing says “We need to come together to stop all the gun deaths” than stocking up on bullets in case the scary black president comes to take away your Glock.
The scary black president! He’s part of the problem, no? He’s one of them, the real reason so many people bought a gun this holiday. According to at least one shop owner, a large percentage of gun buyers mentioned one singular event as a motivating factor for their purchase. Can you guess?
That’s right: Ferguson.
Ferguson? You mean the place where the white cop murdered that unarmed black kid, and wasn’t even indicted for it, and the police responded to the subsequent outrage/heartbreak from the local black community with even more brutality by way of a shocking assortment of military-grade weaponry: enormous tanks and tear gas and riot gear, all of sufficient scale and ruthlessness to outfit an army unit in Afghanistan, because that’s exactly what it was? That Ferguson? Yes indeed.
So. Want to try and unpack this creepy factoid? Break it down a little? It’s not difficult:
You’re a scared white person, almost certainly male. You do not live in a major city, or near a university or intellectual hub of any note, nor have you ever traveled very far from your home town, much less out of state or anywhere further than, say, Mexico. Once. And that was enough.
You do not read complicated books. You do not like new or weird things. You watch lots of TV, mostly Fox News, which rejoices in showing you endless images of angry foreigners and minorities in pain: tear gas explosions, fights in the streets, looting, this time involving sad, small-town black people in Ferguson, all of them protesting the acquittal of that murderous white cop.
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But here’s the surreal catch: it’s not for protection, per se. It’s not about the childish fantasy of how the gun defends against the rapist, or the drug dealer, or the Russian mafia kingpin who kidnapped your daughter for the second time, and this time it’s personal.
The gun is uncomplicated, primitive defense against something far more terrifying and murky: everything you do not know. Guns provide an illusion of security, a violent, make-believe defense against a world that’s too complex, with injustices too prodigious, rage too tempting and calm, peaceful acts of love far too difficult to locate. They make you feel, in short, like you might have a chance.
So this is an interesting commentary on a number of levels, not the least of which is that Morford is badly uninformed on trends in gun ownership. The anti-gun nuts are mostly old, balding or gray-headed, crusty, rich, Northeastern collectivist white guys. Girls are buying guns, young guys are participating in 3-gun competitions, shooting is a family sport, and entire families are learning how to use weapons for self defense.
As for hurling insults, we could engage in that all day (like, for instance, Morford has a writing style like a gum-smacking valley girl). But that would soon get boring. So I thought I would take on this notion that gun owners don’t read complicated books.
So here’s the deal, Mark. Let’s play a game, and we can keep playing until someone gives up. It will show me to be an idiot, or you to be an ignorant loud-mouth blow hard, but we can’t both be winners. I’ll mention a few books, almost at random, on my book shelf. You tell me if you think they are complicated enough for you, and then you tell me some titles on your book shelf. Let’s see what you’re reading.
Are you ready to play? Good.
James J. Duderstadt and Louis J. Hamilton, “Nuclear Reactor Analysis,” Alvin Plantinga, “God and Other Minds,” Paul Helm, “Eternal God,” Frederick Copleston, “A History of Philosophy,” all volumes, and finally, Collins and LaPierre, “Is Paris Burning?: How Paris Miraculously Escaped Hitler’s Sentence of Death in August 1944.”
Now, it’s your turn Mark.