Monday, January 02, 2012


This is disheartening, but not surprising in the least:

Americans buy record numbers of guns for Christmas

According to the FBI, over 1.5 million background checks on customers were requested by gun dealers to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System in December. Nearly 500,000 of those were in the six days before Christmas.

It was the highest number ever in a single month, surpassing the previous record set in November.

On Dec 23 alone there were 102,222 background checks, making it the second busiest single day for buying guns in history.

The actual number of guns bought may have been even higher if individual customers took home more than one each.

Explanations for America's surge in gun buying include that it is a response to the stalled economy with people fearing crime waves. Another theory is that buyers are rushing to gun shops because they believe tighter firearms laws will be introduced in the future....

The National Rifle Association said people were concerned about self defence because police officer numbers were declining.

A spokesman said: "I think there's an increased realisation that when something bad occurs it's going to be between them and the criminal." ...

Now, you might imagine the NRA would want to downplay that last point -- after all, the Republican Party that acts in lockstep with the NRA, and for which a large number of NRA members regularly vote, is the same party that forces cutbacks in the ranks of police departments because the alternative -- higher taxes -- is utterly unacceptable.

But, of course, no one on the right is in any way embarrassed that cops are losing their jobs, because every wingnut knows that all government departments, agencies, and programs have a failure rate of 100%, so it doesn't matter that we don't have enough cops. (How that jibes with our nation's extraordinarily high rate of incarceration I can't explain, but no wingnut would ever take the time to examine the clear contradiction.)

American right-wingers don't care, because they don't really believe in society. Their favorite foreign politician, Margaret Thatcher, has been quoted this way:

They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It's our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour.

To the average American wingnut, there are individuals and families -- and also affinity groups. There are fellow believers in "gun freedom." There are fellow "regular Americans" who aren't repulsive cosmopolitan liberal elitists. There are fellow Christians. There are fellow white people. These groups are worth defending. Society isn't. Any old SOB can become part of society -- Muslims, gays, people on welfare, you name it.

I suppose this harks back to Tom's point about the links connecting Ron Paul's present-day libertarianism and the racist states' rights movement. I agree that it's about race to some extent, but I don't think it's just about race. It's more flexible than that. It's about reserving the unilateral right, or the affinity-group right, to decide who belongs here and who doesn't. It's about deciding, if you choose, that "society" is just you and your guns, and everyone else can just stay the hell off your land (though with the definition of "your land" extended to the creche in the town square and the vacant lot the local Muslims have purchased so they can build a mosque on it).

And even though Ron Paul isn't going to be elected president this year, the libertarianism-by-inches of the mainstream GOP makes us less and less of a society. Thatcher may not have been right when she spoke -- not right about her own country, not right about humanity as a whole -- but, increasingly, her words describe America, or at least what we're becoming.


c u n d gulag said...

We have a lot of sociopaths and psychopaths in this country.

And nothing speaks more to that than the sheer number of serial killers we have and the number of gun deaths, both of which would be an outrage in a saner nation.
But not us - we run out and buy more guns.

We're a country of crazy Calvinist cowboys - with solo and group insanity, a feeling of self-determined individual and collective exceptionalism combined with a religious belief that we are loved by our Christian God to the exclusion off all others, and armed to the teeth, to boot.

We not only tolerate the insane, we worship them - and even put them in Congress.

Welcome to The United Armed Christian States of Bellevue.

Ten Bears said...

With all those people out buying guns I'm tempted to go out and buy (another) one.

Naw, all an old boy needs is a deer rifle and a good revolver.

Improbable Joe said...

What gets lost in this is that there are sometimes good individual reasons to own a gun, that have nothing to do with right-wing NRA "Obama bin Laden gonna git yer guns!" paranoia, or weird "cowboy" stuff. Some of it is the economy: I've had to move from a low-crime area to a high-crime area to follow work, and a gun for home protection makes sense here.

Of course, if we had fewer guns out there and more cops out on patrol, and a more healthy and stable economy for EVERYONE, the crime rate might go down and I could trade my gun for a new amp or something.

Danp said...

You, too can say "welcome to the world, baby Jesus" .300 Whisper by Smith and Wesson.

Tom Hilton said...

When libertarians argue, their unspoken assumptions do 90% of the work for them. Take away those assumptions (regulation & liberty are inherently opposed; government can't create wealth; etc.) and there is no argument.

I'm convinced that we're losing the ideological war because we have failed to challenge them on the basic level of the things they assume that just aren't true. We need to be talking constantly and repeatedly about the basic truths that invalidate the libertarian fantasy: regulation creates liberty; in the most literal sense, government creates wealth (i.e., in the absence of government property doesn't exist); and every dime anybody makes, ever, depends in part on the common wealth developed by other people (generally through government).

c u n d gulag said...


I don't understand what the word means, but it's against my personal philosophy of free market capitalism, which I can't explain either, but I know that what you believe isn't what I believe, so you must be a Godless, Heathen Socialist or Communist!

Are you a Kenyan, also too?