Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Gun Logic Part 1 - All Government is Evil, God Bless America

One of the favorite themes of the pro-gun (pro-death) lobby is that Americans need guns so that they can rise up against the tyrannical federal government and overthrow it by force. In order for this to be a reasonable argument and not just an outdated vestige of our colonial past, the gunners feel they need to demonstrate that the government is always on the verge of becoming so intolerable that revolution could be necessary at any time.

Contrary to what the gun lovers say, there isn't a lot of evidence that the U.S. government is taking over every aspect of our lives and destroying our freedom. In fact, for more than thirty years it has been in the process of deregulating, privatizing, and disengaging from our lives. Polluters, monopolists, bank and investment fraudsters, and tax cheats are all much freer to commit their crimes without fear of prosecution than they were before Ronald Reagan announced that government was the problem, not the solution to our problems.

Lacking any real evidence that the government is taking over everything, the gun worshipers stitch together small government actions into a crazy quilt that they think reveals a pattern. Whether the government proposes to provide health care for people who don't have any or to tax rich people at rates they used to pay, the gunners see it as a first step towards taking away their guns. It's a mindset that was developed over the years by groups like the John Birch Society, which opposed fluoridation of water as a step towards communism, or other groups that opposed vaccinating children against deadly diseases, seeing it as an interference with individual liberty. To people who are infatuated with guns, whatever our government does is evil and it is their right and obligation to be ready to overthrow that government.

Except, of course, when the government does something they like. In those instances, the gun devotees are quick to praise the government and to castigate anyone who questions its actions and brand them as unpatriotic. Mostly the gun lobby likes the government to fight wars, because the fighting is done with guns and other weapons, validating their belief that guns and violence are good and necessary. Gun lovers support our military and police but almost no other part of our government. But when the law enforcement arm of our government goes after people who illegally keep or use guns, the gun lobby says the government agents have become tyrannical jack-booted thugs and must be resisted.

Although the pro-gun arguments seem illogical, they are consistent. No matter what the facts are, the gun fetishists find a way to construct a view of reality that affirms their fundamental belief that they should have guns. That is why they can simultaneously say that the U.S. government is great and that it is evil, and that they must be armed and ready to kill both agents of the government when the government gets in their way and people who oppose the government when the government is doing what they like. The thread tying their world view together is that they are the good people and have the right to kill anyone who they decide is bad. It all makes perfect sense, at least to people who have decided that guns should be an available answer no matter what the question is, and that their judgment is superior to the judgment of any other person or any government.

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