Thursday, May 06, 2010


I suppose it's nice that Gail Collins and Dana Milbank are writing about the gun lobby's tireless efforts to block passage of any law preventing people on terrorism watch lists from buying guns, but I think we need to recognize that the gun lobby is not just powerful but, at least at the rank-and-file level, utterly delusional -- and I mean delusional in the same way that Obama birthers and 9/11 truthers are delusional. In fact, the gun lobby is powerful precisely because its rank-and-file supporters are tin-foil-hat delusional.

Rank-and-file gunners believe, for instance, that President Obama is a "gun-grabber" -- even though he gets an F from the gun-control advocates at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, for backing such measures as the very law that allowed gun lovers to carry weapons openly in a Virginia park while protesting his alleged gun-grabbing.

Rank-and-file gunners also believe in, for want of a better phrase, a "one-drop" theory of gun control -- if you support any gun-control legislation whatsoever, you're presumed to be a full-throated, totalitarian enemy of all gun owners anywhere and an advocate of house-to-house confiscation of all weapons. In the Gail Collins column, gun-lobby apologist Lindsey Graham alludes to this viewpoint when he says, regarding a possible gun ban for terrorism watch list members, "Some of the people pushing this idea are also pushing the idea of banning handguns" -- as if it's literally impossible to support the former without allowing the latter. Gun-lobby spokespeople, according to Milbank, also push a "one-drop" line:

The NRA, restating its opposition to the bill a few months ago, said it is all part of a conspiracy by "politicians who hate the Second Amendment" and who "think that more gun owners can be placed on the list over time." At Wednesday's hearing, a representative of the conservative Liberty Coalition made a similar argument: "The bill should be titled the Gun Owners Are Probably All Terrorists Act."

You'd imagine that most of America -- even most moderates and gun owners -- would actually prefer to live in a country where terrorism suspects are legally forbidden to buy guns, however much gun freedom they support otherwise. But no vulnerable Democrat can support such a law, because the tin-foil notion that the Democrat is an across-the-board gun-grabber will instantly take root -- regardless of the facts. Rank-and-file gun owners have been persuaded that it's literally impossible to go only partway down this alleged slippery slope. And they actually believe that. They actually believe we can't pass an anti-terrorist gun law without passing a slew of across-the-board, fascistic additional gun laws.

Let's admit that we have a sanity problem here. Let's admit that reality-averse conspiracy crazies control our gun policy.

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