A frequent subject of my rumination is the “national conversation” about gun control, gun laws, and America’s interest in firearms. We love guns, as a nation, and as a civic government we struggle with just how best to handle that love. I get that there are dangerous people out there, and I support the 2nd Amendment right to keep a firearm, to carry, to own guns. I believe in that right.
But that’s rarely what we are actually talking about in the “gun control” discussion. This conversation seems to hover around a particularly remarkable/horrifying hypothetical world with which nationally prominent defenders of assault weapons often view the future. This future for the Earth is much more Escape from New York than it is Star Trek: The Next Generation.
It is possible to believe, and be a high-level government official, that America is headed towards a post-apocalypse where raping gangs of thugs walk the streets without rule of law or police, in which an American’s only chance of defending the family is through assault weapons. This is the Gayle Trotter/Lindsey Graham/Wayne LaPierre America of the future. Equally, one can look at the US and see a future in which a tyrannical government seeks to regulate high-capacity magazines and assault rifles only as a first step towards a fascist takeover, calling for an armed nation of new patriots to rise up and overthrow the government with a new, bloody revolution. This is the Alex Jones/Joe Walsh future. Both of these futures are best avoided, in my opinion. They are violent and filled with death and devastation.
But if you listen to these arguments, they are not without a certain giddy eagerness. Some of these prognisticators seem to hope for violence, as though their future-apocalypse would provide a rousing adventure and another long-sought opportunity to put their tools to use. If you buy an AR-15, well, obviously you need to use it, and not just for killing gophers. This isn’t a new gripe of mine, and I’ve commented here and elsewhere about the image of future-terror-violence that the gun-lobby (not gun-owners) relies on when arguing for more access to high-powered weapons. To quote myself in a more acidic tone, a few months ago in a discussion on the great social network: “whatever hell-hole violent post-apocalyptic shitscape that Lindsey Graham or Gayle Trotter live in, where mothers need assault rifles to protect their babies from waves of intruders, they have to move.” Move literally away from such a place, or even better, move your efforts towards giving the world a better future. Rather than simply arming yourselves for a terrible one.
This returns in the wake of testimony in our nation’s government today, between Sen. Lindsey Graham, and US Attorney General Eric Holder. Here’s the relevant exchange:
GRAHAM: Let me give an example. That you have a lawless environment where you have a natural disaster or some catastrophic event and those things, unfortunately, do happen. And law and order breaks down because the police can’t travel, there’s no communication. And there are armed gangs roaming around neighborhoods. Can you envision a situation where if your home happens to be in the cross-hairs of this group that a better self-defense weapon may be a semiautomatic AR-15 versus a double-barrel shotgun?
HOLDER: I think we’re dealing there with a hypothetical in a world…
GRAHAM: Well, I’m afraid that world does exist. I think it existed in New Orleans, to some exist in Long Island, it could exist tomorrow if there’s a cyber attack against the country and the power grid goes down and the dams are released and chemical plants are discharges. […] What I’m saying is if my family was in the cross-hairs of gangs that were roaming around New Orleans or any other location, that the turn effect of an AR-15 to protect my family is better than a double-barrel shotgun but the Vice President and I have a disagreement on that.
Did you see that escalation? That fantasy of future horror? What about New Orleans, or Red Dawn? Has our government discourse really come to debating the home-protection value of the AR-15 versus a double barrel shotgun in the wake of a gang-fueled no-power cyber-attacked America that’s never actually happened? Why aren’t we having a national debate about how to avoid that future in the first place? God help us.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, apparently, believes we need to allow AR-15s in the hands of public citizens because their “turn effect” will better serve him when roaming gangs are targeting his family after a catastrophic event. This is the world according to disaster predictions, and it is self-fulfilling prophecy. How badly do we want this world? In the US, we seem to wait for catastrophic opportunities to use our guns to kill bad guys, who, in this worldview, are always around the corner ready to pounce. I can’t believe this is what our world will look like.
To quote Dr. Ellie Arroway: “I always believed that the world was what we make of it.” What are you making the world, Lindsey Graham?