No other issue connects with the Left on such an emotional level, or provokes the most wildly out-of-control behavior, as gun control. It’s been off the national radar screen for a long time, not least because liberals know it’s a killer during presidential elections, so we’re seeing a great deal of pent-up frustration erupting now.
Exhibit A is Piers Morgan of CNN, who appears to have gone utterly mad since the Newtown shooting. He claimed it was possible to by AR-15 assault rifles in supermarkets, ignoring repeated requests from more rational commentators to name the remarkable supermarket he’s been shopping at. On Tuesday, he went berserk on the air and got into a shouting match with guest Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America:
Some of this can be dismissed as grandstanding for ratings, but it’s not just Morgan. Author Joyce Carol Oates wished NRA members would get shot, so they might finally give up their damnable Second Amendment rights… and insisted she wasn’t speaking “ironically.” She also mused that a lot of “gun accidents” might not be so accidental after all, broadly accusing thousands of Americans who disagree with her of being murderers.
University of Rhode Island history teacher Erik Loomis launched into a profane tirade that accused the National Rifle Association of being a “terrorist organization” and called for the CEO’s “head on a stick,” although he did later try to claim he was speaking ironically, after being rebuked by his university.
It’s one thing to be passionately committed to a political position, but these people have gone feral. Partly this is due to the small window of opportunity afforded by tragedy. Gun-control zealots know they’ve only got a few days of grief to exploit, before most Americans begin once more thinking rationally about the Constitution and self-defense. Many of the legislative nostrums prescribed by the gun-control crowd have only tenuous connections to the event itself; it’s not long before voters start wondering why there’s a big push to ban “assault weapons” because they look scary, and note that possession of such a weapon is not essential to the awful business of carrying out a shooting spree.
But much of what we see pouring from the Left in the gun-control debate is a pure expression of their id. This is a hot-button issue for them. Actually, it’s wired into all of their hot buttons.
There’s arrogant contempt for rural “gun culture” – a phrase that most certainly does not refer to the gun culture of urban street gangs when a liberal uses it.
There is a dash of leftist power politics involved, since they regard groups like the NRA as vital organs of the Right, a source of both money and political muscle for conservatives. That’s one reason so many liberals reflexively wish violence and death upon members and officers of the NRA. Those people are the enemy, 365 days a year; the aftermath of a high-profile shooting affords an opportunity to attack them with particular vigor.
Philosophically, the Second Amendment is a hated repudiation of everything collectivists believe about the proper relationship between citizens and the all-powerful State. The concept of private firearms as a bulwark against tyranny insults them, because they believe nobody should think about maternal, coercive leftist government that way, not even in the abstract.
The more immediate and practical use of legal firearms for self-defense is also an insult to the State – an accusation that benevolent government cannot adequately protect its citizens. You’re supposed to let the agents of the State defend you from criminals, not take matters into your own hands. Frankly, you little people are just too damned stupid to be entrusted with deadly force. You can’t live any aspect of your lives without maternal government assistance, so how can you be trusted to defend your own life?
Personal responsibility is the antithesis of the nanny state, and gun ownership is among the most powerful expressions of such responsibility. Gun owners often see it that way themselves – it has hardly escaped the notice of liberals that Gadsden flags tend to erupt from large gatherings of gun enthusiasts. Right now, the news is filled with reports of gun sales skyrocketing, due to apprehension over the possibility of new gun control legislation. Liberals read headlines like that and seethe. It reeks of anarchy to them.
The Left views government as the primary agency of moral action. It “solves” problems by passing laws. Agitating for problem-solving laws is an easy way to express moral supremacy, and in this case, for liberals who don’t personally own guns – or who, like most of the high-level politicians and opinion makers, enjoy armed security protection – it’s completely cost-free. It’s a nice, simple equation: call for banning some types of gun, or all of them, and you’re “good.” Everyone else is callous and evil. People who try to introduce actual facts into the discussion are vilified with gusto, because they dare to introduce icy logic into an emotional, moral crusade… they want to talk, when it’s clearly time for action! It’s an attitude that curdles quickly into the kind of blind hatred that liberals normally congratulate themselves for opposing, because it’s so shallow.
And let’s face it: a blanket pass to scream insults at people you don’t like – justified with a plea that You Care So Very Much and It’s All For the Children – is great fun, and very cathartic. It’s no surprise that a wide range of other issues swiftly creep into these tirades, and soon the gun zealot is, like filmmaker Michael Moore, describing opposition to socialized medicine as the moral equivalent of murder. The Left has a great deal of anger to vent. There’s a lot of pressure built up behind that gun-control valve.
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