I once proposed that there is no combination of 27 English words that has caused as much trouble for this country as the 2nd Amendment. Nothing since then has changed my mind.
Let’s talk about the NRA.
Who Does The NRA Stand For?
If you believe them, the NRA is just another 501(c)(3) that goes all the way back to the Civil War (the North, not the South, they hasten to add). They “[promote] the shooting sports among the youth.” They’re a “leader in firearms education.” They’re “America’s foremost defender of Second Amendment rights.”
The NRA is “little more than a corporate lobbyist dressed up in woodsy camouflage.” It’s a “cynical, mercenary political cult.” It siphons money from gun retailers and manufacturers and corporate donors (including Blackwater, if you didn’t already hate those guys enough). If the NRA stood for the law-abiding gun owners, like they say they do, then they’d support the kind of gun-control legislation that their members do: After the Aurora shooting, a poll found that 80% of gun owners–including 71% of current and former NRA members–supported banning people on terrorist watch lists from buying guns.
The NRA’s response? “Now is the time for families to grieve and for the community to heal. It’s not an appropriate time to have political or policy discussions.”
If the NRA stood for law-abiding gun owners, like they say, they do, they would have condemned the shooting of law-abiding gun owner Philando Castile. That’s what bearded reactionary David French did in National Review.
The NRA’s response?
The NRA doesn’t stand for gun owners. It stands with money and power. That’s why it didn’t condemn the execution of Philando Castile, because it understands a frightening and important truth: if oppressed people can defend themselves, they will be much harder to oppress. That’s why the NRA doesn’t want everybody to own guns. It wants to make sure the guns stay in the hands of the establishment.
The police should get Hummers and automatic weapons, because the police will defend the status quo. A “law-abiding” (read: white) citizen should get high-cap magazines, because “law-abiding” citizens will defend the status quo. The established power structure, bolstered by the NRA, supports and encourages gun ownership among its defenders. But when the oppressed start carrying weapons to defend themselves, those Second Amendment rights seem a lot less precious.
Black Powder, Black Power
Black gun ownership has always been frightening to the power establishment in this country. In 1967, then-Governor of California Ronald Reagan signed a bill preventing the open carry of firearms so the police could de-fang the Black Panthers.
The NRA strives to present itself as a diverse organization, which might be why they’ve got Colin Noir’s face on the landing page of their website. Noir, whose videos I’ve watched (he has a great review of the Sig Sauer P226 Legion that’s worth watching, if you’re into that sort of thing), might be the NRA’s highest-profile black spokesman. He’s got videos with titles like “How Not To Fix Inner-City Gun Violence,” “Why Gun Control Won’t Fix Inner City Violence,” and “Black People Shouldn’t Own Guns.” He parrots the NRA’s usual line: that it’s the criminals, not the law-abiding gun owners, that are the problem; that more regulation isn’t going to solve the problem; that of the more than 30,000 annual gun deaths in America, only 11,000 or so are homicide, so we should stop being so hysterical (if you think the “nuh-uh, guns aren’t the problem” argument is limited to YouTube personalities, here’s John Cornyn saying it in the Senate after the Pulse Nightclub massacre, and here’s Wayne LaPierre saying it after the Newtown shooting).
But after Castile’s executioner walked free, Noir wrote a statement that seemed to express genuine anguish, fury, and regret. He writes:
I despise race baiting. Race baiting cheapens and undermines every legitimate cry of racial injustice and breeds a sense of apathy in people who would otherwise be sympathetic to such cries but feel the discussion of race is a zero-sum game they can never win.
Before going on to say:
All that being said, Philando Should be alive today. In my eyes, Yanez screwed up big time. I don’t feel he was out to take a black life that day, but it doesn’t matter because his actions cost Phliando his life.
My legal mind can see why they couldn’t get to Manslaughter in the Second Degree based solely on the facts at hand, but Yanez walking away from this case a free and clear man is just wrong.
Contrast that statement with the one the NRA released after the acquittal of Yanez, which was…oh.
They didn’t make a statement.
I read once, I don’t remember where, that you can tell if a men’s rights activist really cares about men’s rights (as opposed to simply hating women) by how they treat trans men; I submit that you can tell if an NRA member really cares about the Second Amendment by how they treat black gun owners.
This Machine Kills
That brings us to today, and this piece of hot garbage. No embed, so follow the link.
If you saw that video, you probably got a little bit nervous. Probably not as much at the notion of swarms of masked black bloc antifa than at the idea of something called “the clenched fist of truth,” which sounds like something a deranged maniac would say.
I mean, wh–why would anyone think that ad would be a good idea? Why would anyone look at that and decide, “Yeah, that’s where we want our organization to be–making sinister claims about ‘indoctrination’ and accusing celebrities of sedition”? Both the Blue Team and the Red Team accuse each other of “inciting violence,” and that’s a tired argument. But when you tell a bunch of gun owners to fight back against some creeping insurgency, there’s only one outcome possible.
I continue to advocate for safe and responsible gun ownership. And there are gun rights groups that do good work and actually do stand up for the rights of minorities to defend themselves, like the Pink Pistols, or the NAAGA. These days, when there are more guns and fewer gun owners than ever, we need to be able to have a reasoned discussion about gun ownership and state violence. But the running-dog proto-fascists spending millions of dollars lobbying and calling for insurrection are not the ones that are going to get us there.