Let's Call Extremist Gun Owners What They Are: Sick and in Need of Help

One of the things I learned firsthand over the last few days of gun “rights” proponents attacking me for advocating a ban on certain weapons is genuinely distressing. It’s not that a lot of people own a lot of guns, although that’s disturbing enough. No, it’s that I believe, sincerely and with no malice, there is a widespread mass hysteria, if not outright mental illness, connected to a certain paranoid strain of gun owner.

Before someone says something like “Crazy liberal says every gun owner is crazy,” let me state as clearly as possible: I’m not saying every gun owner is crazy. If I meant that, I’d say it. You can be a gun owner and be perfectly sane. For instance, a good many gun owners believe the NRA is full of shit. A good many gun owners support things like a ban on semi-automatic rifles and handguns because, let’s face it, the chance of you being in a situation where you need to be able to keep shooting is pretty goddamn small.

But then there are gun owners who believe they need to stockpile weapons because they might need to go to war with the American government if it becomes a "tyranny" (which seems to mean "not as white and male"). Those people have gone mad with paranoia. And I'm not talking your typical kind of Fox "news" paranoia. I'm talking Alex Jones-levels of hysteria.

How so? By all accounts, we are living through an extended period of record low crime throughout much of the country. There is virtually no chance a foreign invader could send an army here to take over even part of the United States. And, despite all the hype, the number of terrorist incidents post-9/11 have been as small in number and number of deaths as terrorism pre-9/11. Indeed, the people who stockpile guns to await an Armageddon (Islamic or Christian or Communist or whatever) are more likely to commit acts of terrorism than any foreigner here. But, like crime rates, the number of terrorist incidents was higher in the 1970s than now.

These are facts. They are not opinions. They are borne out by study and statistics and history. Yet, in defiance of those facts, gun hoarders believe that it’s inevitable that they will need to defend the Constitution (well, the 2nd Amendment) against the United States military or some secret black-ops force or something. It's nonsensical, but it's the logic of the paranoid.

If you are given facts yet you refuse to acknowledge those facts are real, that’s delusional. If a horse is standing in front of me and people tell me that a horse is standing right in front of me, what would those people say if, knowing I had perfectly fine eyesight, I simply denied the existence of the horse. They’d wonder what the hell was wrong with me, as well they should. And no one should let me have a goddamn horse.

The good Russ Belville asked an interesting question over on the Rude Pundit Patreon page. He wondered if the gun hoarders who keep saying that we need to take care of the mentally ill would be willing for police to confiscate the guns of someone who is deemed legally insane or a potential danger to themselves or others. It’s a simple question that’s a put-up or shut-up kind of thing.

But maybe I'm being too harsh. In his New York Times "column" (if by "column," you mean "a desperate stroll through a barren wasteland and pretending that it's still a verdant meadow") yesterday, David Brooks argues that the left needs to respect the rights of gun owners more, even the most extremist ones. They see the desire to have a few more regulations, like background checks, maybe even a license and insurance, but most especially banning of any currently legal firearms as an attack on their “culture.” That ain’t a good enough excuse.

Motherfucker, cultures change all the time. Polygamy used to be part of Mormon culture. Then it turned out that polygamy was being used as an excuse to assault children. So it was outlawed in the place where it had been a big-ass part of the culture. People adapted and changed. And a whole lot of girls didn’t get raped by grown men. (Am I comparing 2nd Amendment absolutism to polygamy? Sure. Why not?)

Brooks talks about how the "Reds" (in this case, not the Commies, but people who believe in conservative ideology) hate being "shamed" by the "Blues" when they are brought together for a conversation: "The Reds feel shamed by the Blues to a much greater degree than the Blues realize. Reds are very reluctant to enter into a conversation with Blues, for fear of further shaming." And, truly, shame has been used to silence people. But if your perspective on school shootings is that dead children and fear in the classroom are just the price one pays for the "freedom" of mass gun ownership, well, you can kind of go fuck yourself and feel ashamed. People like Brooks who want the left to "reason" with the delusional and the factually wrong are exacerbating the damage done by the paranoiacs.

Indeed, the only response to people who think this way, who are trying to discredit the activated students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the only thing that should be said to people who believe the lies being told about the kids who are now advocating for gun control should be that they are sick and they need help. Those liars shouldn't be given a platform. They shouldn't be put on a panel with people who are basing their arguments on facts. They should be told to listen to the kids, goddamnit. They are the Active Shooter Drill Generation. They've been dealing with this shit for their entire lives. They have a fuck of a lot more credibility than someone snarling about jackboots and chem trails.

Essentially, we have a large, sick segment of the population that is divorced from reality and heavily-armed. They are being exploited by craven politicians, the greedy gun lobby, and the conflict-hungry media, which makes them think that their delusional thinking has merit instead of being a symptom of damage done to them and to the public in general.

And, frankly, until we start treating them that way, as sick, which, may, yeah, make them feel a bit ashamed, nothing will fundamentally change, and this corrosion of our American soul around the bloody bullet holes will rot us away.