Political Animal


January 12, 2013 12:49 PM Guns, Guns and More Guns!

By Adele Stan

A headline on today’s New York Times blares:

Sales of Guns Soar in U.S. as Nation Weighs Tougher Limits

(Well, the Times’ trumpet blares through a mute.)

Here’s some of the scariest bits, in Michael Cooper’s article — a piece that’s pretty frightening throughout:

High-capacity magazines, which some state and federal officials want to ban or restrict, were selling briskly across the country: one Iowa dealer said that 30-round magazines were fetching five times what they sold for just weeks ago.
Gun dealers and buyers alike said that the rapid growth in gun sales — which began climbing significantly after President Obama’s re-election and soared after the Dec. 14 shooting at a school in Newtown, Conn., prompted him to call for new gun laws — shows little sign of abating.

The day after the Sandy Hook shooting, I started stumbling upon news of surging gun sales, and found it startling — especially to learn that Connecticut was among the states where gun-sellers were running out of AR-15 rifles, of the kind used by murderer Adam Lanza, and large-capacity magazines.

But, in retrospect, the response was predictable.

Since the election of our nation’s first African American president, right-wing leaders have played on the twisted guilt-and-projection continuum that plagues the more racist elements of the white, male cohort to convince them that the black man was coming for their guns (leaving to their fertile imaginations what he might do to their women).

Here’s Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, addressing the so-called Second Amendment Rally at the Washington Monument on April 19, 2010, the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 Americans:

We’re in a war. The other side knows they’re at war, because they started it. They’re comin’ for our freedom, for our money, for our kids, for our property. They’re comin’ for everything because they’re a bunch of socialists.

And, whoa, are some of those imaginations fertile indeed! A veritable mix of manure and composted grey matter. Just look at the growing trend of “Sandy Hook truthers” — people who contend the massacre never happened, but was just a narrative ruse invented by government in collusion with the news media, all so Obama might disarm his enemies and have his way with America.

Salon’s Alex Seitz-Wald dares to explore the truthers’ claims:

In the latest angle, theorists think they have found “absolute proof” of a conspiracy to defraud the American people. “You reported in December that this little girl had been killed,” a reader emailed Salon in response to a story. “She has been found, and photographed with President Obama.”
The girl in question is Emilie Parker, a 6-year-old who was shot multiple times and killed at Sandy Hook. But for conspiracy theorists, the tears her family shed at her funeral, the moving eulogy from Utah’s governor, and the entire shooting spree are fake. Welcome to the world where Sandy Hook didn’t really happen.
The crux of the theory is a photograph of Parker’s sister sitting on President Obama’s lap when he visited with the victims’ families. The girl is wearing the same dress Emilie wore in a pre-shooting photograph of the family shared with media, so she must be Emilie, alive and well. “BAM! I cannot believe how idiot these people are [sic]… That’s her,” one YouTuber exclaims as he watches the two images superimposed on each other. (Apparently missed by these crack investigators is the possibility that the sister wore Emilie’s dress and that they look alike because they are sisters, after all.)

This is not to say that all of those in a state of panic, stocking up on assault rifles and large-capacity magazines, are massacre-deniers. Some obviously just have a burning need for military-style weapons and oodles of rapid-fire ammo. (Go figure.)

And not every person in the gun-store stampede is motivated by race, of course. Many of these folks have long been suspicious of the intentions of liberals and/or Democrats for decades, flames of fear fanned by the likes of the John Birch Society and religious right.

But add to that paranoia the toxic brew of America’s failure to accept the brutality of its racist past and the reality of its race-fixated present, and there’s much to give pause in this current stream of events.


  • Mark-NC on January 12, 2013 2:10 PM:

    I wonder sometimes how long it will be before this country splits into Red America & Blue America for real.

    I'll stay in Blue America. We will have LOTS of Socialistic things like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, a police force, a Post Office, a higher minimum wage, etc.

    In Red America (also known as Republican Nirvana) they will have none of the above. No police, no fire department, no paved roads, no post office, no public schools, no safety net of any kind, no minimum wage, no child labor laws, etc. You will be REQUIRED to go to Church and tithe 10%. 5% of the population will own 95% of everything and only GOOD Christians will be allowed to occupy the rental homes so generously provided (at a high rent of course) by the benevolent rich. HOWEVER - everyone will be able to mount a machine gun on the roof to shoot ANYTHING that moves - YOOO HOOO!

  • c u n d gulag on January 12, 2013 2:17 PM:

    Ah, finally - they got the gun goods on that wily Obama bin Kenyan!

    That KenyanSocialistFascistCommunistAtheistMuslim Usurper, and And All Around "Blah" Evil Super-Genius, having found a likely suspect in the poor Autistic child of a gun advocate, went out to a small town in a Blue State, and convinced parents to let him borrow 20 of their precious children for the day, to "Play Dead," so he could set that Autistic guy up for the mass murder of those children with a semi-automatic weapon.

    All to embarass Patriots who revere the 2nd Amendment!
    And then, he could take away their guns and ammo forever, preventing these wannbe "WOLVERINES!" from defending the rest of us from his Hitler/Stalin/Mao/Castro/PolPot brand of Socialist tyranny!!!

    I wonder how much he paid the parents for their participation in that scam of a sham?

    And then, that "Blah" Evil Super-Genius, FOOL!, got caught red-handed - he was caught with one of the supposed dead little children (a White girl) on his "Blah!" lap, right in front of a photographer!!!

    And why not?
    It COULD have happened that way!
    It's as likely as any wannbe "WOVERINES!" being able to take-over control from the US military to save this country from Obama's tyranny, without first ending up as a cloud of bloody mist before settling into the drone crater - far, far, away from, and long, long, before, any actual troops appeared in their vicinity - to clean up the pieces in Bio-Hazard suits, and recepticles suitable for disposal.


  • jjm on January 12, 2013 4:16 PM:

    Mark-NC on January 12, 2013 2:10 PM: "and only GOOD Christians will be allowed to occupy the rental homes so generously provided (at a high rent of course) by the benevolent rich."

    You mean only "GOOD WHITE Christians," of course.

  • DCSusie on January 12, 2013 4:19 PM:

    Shouldn't these people be in the national 'no guns for lunatics'' database that Wayne LaPierre is pushing for? (For that matter, shouldn't LaPierre himself be in that database?)

  • esaud on January 12, 2013 4:39 PM:

    For years the Republican party has been getting tons of support from those bozos, and the media was happy to look the other way.

  • MAccheerful on January 12, 2013 4:49 PM:

    On the bright side, the gun buying does stimulate the economy and reduces the amount of money gun nuts have to donate to political causes and candidates. It also drives up the prices of guns, making them harder to obtain casually.

    And if they are just adding guns to existing arsenals, how much more dangerous is it?

    The downside is that a portion of the profits do eventually end up with the NRA, from the gun companies.

  • monoceros4 on January 12, 2013 4:51 PM:

    You know, if every single one of these mass shootings was actually orchestrated by the government as an excuse to ban guns, how come absolutely fucking nothing has been done even remotely close to banning guns? What sort of conspiracy produces zero results?

  • sparrow on January 12, 2013 4:58 PM:

    Anyone want to bet that these are some of the very same people that stocked up on light bulbs fearing that the new efficiency standards passed was a commie attempt to take away their freedom?

  • ltbrinson on January 12, 2013 4:58 PM:

    (leaving to their fertile imaginations what he might do to their women).

    That has always been so weird to me. Why do white men well what is it with certain white men and their belief or thought that either black men possessed some magical power that white women found irresistible or that white women are just so weak to the black man that black men must be stopped? I have never understood it

  • jd--Central Florida on January 12, 2013 5:03 PM:

    Wasn't it Connecticut's governor giving the eulogy (not Utah's)?

  • PTate in MN on January 12, 2013 5:42 PM:

    The statistic that haunts me is that, while the percentage of Americans owning guns has dropped from 50% in 1973 to 32% in 2010, the overall number of guns has increased. So fewer people own more guns.

    We're getting so close to the crazification factor of 27% that maybe only the crazy own guns now anyway. I mean, a pretty good definition of crazy is the paranoid delusion that you need an arsenal of guns to defend yourself against the tyranny of government. So, yeah, they better buy guns while they can. On that day when we make it harder for crazy people to get their hands on guns, simply wanting to buy a gun to defend yourself against a paranoid delusion should be sufficient evidence of crazy to prevent a gun purchase.

  • Celui on January 12, 2013 6:25 PM:

    Well, guys, I disagree with those whose mindset says that the gun crazies are arming themselves against a governmental tyranny. That government has BIG armies with lots of guns. Losing proposition even for crazies. I think that what's really happening here is the embodiment of the re-segregation of America along urban-rural, racial, economic and philosophical/theological lines. The gun is simply the embodiment of the separatist mind that says nobody else matters, only me. That's a capital ME, and the effect of such a mindset is that it grows in veracity among those whose normal tendencies would be to ignore this crap, but now, if there are so many people out there armed against something, there must be something against which to arm oneself. Who or what could it be? I'd better look in the mirror, 'cause it can't be people "like me"; must be those "others." And, there, guys is the not-so-subtle answer to the 'gotta-get-a-gun' mentality. Anyone want to trust one of these crazies to be armed and in the midst of a population of all sorts of people? Who will the gun carrier first pick out to aim at?

    I rest my case.

  • mmm on January 12, 2013 6:35 PM:

    Just out of curiosity, what kind of a return does that investment produce? I'd be interested to know what their financial situation is that they can be spending money on guns. Do they also invest for their sunset years, and buy medical insurance? Or are they just going to let government programs support them?

  • Mimikatz on January 12, 2013 7:19 PM:

    Mmm: if you have an arsenal, when the collapse comes you can just take what you need or want. That's your retirement plan.

    What I find interesting is that most if not all of these mass shootings take place not in central cities and close-in suburbs, but in the newer suburbs and exurbs and small cities. The same places that you find mega churches. Must be the anomie. Sure we have lots of crime and gang-related shootings in the urban areas, but not the crazed mass shootings. My understanding is that these crazy white guys are looking forward to being able to shoot non-white people when the collapse comes, much as they talk and fantasize about defending themselves against "tyranny". We saw some of this after Katrina hit.

    It is obviously a reaction to societal changes that have resulted in high unemployment rates among men, and the increased diversity in society. I wonder as an older person if it is also a sense that technological changes are happening so fast they can't keep up with younger people. And of course it is all abetted by the apocalyptic right wing media, who have created a monster they can't control whether it is in the House or the exurban gun ranges.

  • emjayay on January 12, 2013 8:59 PM:


    They have bigger dicks.

    Also the Aryan superiorty thing. Africans are of more primitive stock and impregnating pure white women would be the runiation of civilization. I guess it's particularly bad if you are totally against abortion.

    Oh and I guess that women, being silly and weak, are easy prey for those hot Africans.

    All of this stuff is of course pretty much metaphorical particularly when it comes to Obama Derangement Syndrome, but it's the metaphor energising it.

  • emjayay on January 12, 2013 9:08 PM:

    Just for a bit of balance, the thing about fewer people having more guns is to some degree about gun collectors. Gun manufacturers produce a product that is pretty much imperishable. You can grease up a gun and put it away for fifty years and take it out and it works fine. So gun manufacturers have encouraged collecting of whatever new editions of whatever guns etc. through modern marketing.

    But that's probably not mostly the guys running out and buying the big multiclips and assault rifles while they can. That's just rednecks. Celui and Mimikatz are definitely onto some aspects of the guns and rednecks phenomenom.

  • Rick B on January 12, 2013 9:46 PM:

    I'll accept the second amendment as allowing widespread private ownership of guns, but I want to apply Constitutional "Original Intent." The founding fathers could not have had any idea that cartridge and repeating firearms could exist. So the original intent of the second amendment had to be about muzzle loading firearms only.

    Let's apply the original intent of the second amendment and outlaw private ownership of any firearm that uses a cartridge, especially firearms capable of more than a single shot.

    Since the Supreme Court has separated the requirement that the firearms be kept as part of and requirement for an organized militia, the militia is a separate issue and cannot be used to justify firearm ownership.

    Private ownership of any cartridge firearm - especially repeating fire weapons - can then be totally banned constitutionally.

  • GregL on January 12, 2013 10:06 PM:

    Maybe the big rise in the trade deficit was America sucking in all the guns the world has to sell?

  • gvahut on January 12, 2013 10:25 PM:

    So I guess the good news is that with more guns in the hands of fewer people we won't have to pry them all out of their cold, dead hands. Some will just be lying around.

  • zandru on January 13, 2013 1:11 AM:

    per PTate in MN, "maybe only the crazy own guns now"

    Dream on. There are still lots of old traditionals who own guns for purposes of hunting and target shooting. How many do you "need"? Well, if you hunt deer, you'll probably have a rifle or big shotgun. Might want to supplement this with a .22 rifle, for more frequent target practice: .22 ammunition is cheap, while your big .3030 cartridges will really set you back. The principal and technique for the different calibers is basically the same. If you hunt migratory waterfowl, you'll need a shotgun for sure. Perhaps you practice by shooting skeet; maybe you're so into that that you have yourself a fancy skeet shotgun, too.

    These are just the long guns. Perhaps you are interested in pistol shooting. Once again, you can't beat a .22 for fun and inexpensive ammunition.

    There's no point in going on much further. How many guns you "need" depends upon your shooting activities. How many SHOES do YOU have?

    People who are "into" guns and have disposable cash frequently pick up particularly nice, appreciable weapons for investment purposes. Buy, shoot at least a few times, clean, and store, until the price has gone up enough to make it worthwhile to sell - and buy the next good deal. Just like the stock market, except you have something you can touch.

    Really, the vast majority of gun owners aren't crazy. Well, maybe in the sense of geeking out over firearms, but not in the murderous sense. Perhaps you live in a heavily urbanized, gentrified, liberal part of MN?

  • James M on January 13, 2013 2:49 AM:

    @emjayay on January 12, 2013 9:08 PM:

    "Celui and Mimikatz are definitely onto some aspects of the guns and rednecks phenomenom."

    I '2nd' the motion! PTate in MN on January 12, 2013 5:42 PM mentioned the "...crazification factor of 27%". However, the 'crazies' have always been with us. In Oklahoma I grew up with many nice, law-abiding, church-going people whose beliefs and value systems would have been considered totally nuts by most of the regular commenters here.

    I think that what has changed is that Fox News, conservative talk radio and online sites have given these people a voice, social validation and a sense of unity. These things have also made it easier for them to communicate with one another and cooperate in political action.

    However, ironically, I think the rise of the 'crazies' as a media and political force has hurt the GOP the most. Up till now the Republican establishment expected these people to turn up to vote every 2 or 4 years and then shut up and go away. Now, through the Tea Party and similar movements, the 'crazies' now expect their votes to be reflected in real policy development.

  • Bobby Goren on January 13, 2013 8:43 AM:

    It's simple, really. National Gun Tax.

    About 250 million guns in 50 million households.

    First revolver OR bolt/lever action rifle OR pump/break action shot gun are exempt. ONE gun is exempt for "security."

    All the rest are taxed annually, preferably at a progressive rate based on class of lethality. To simplify the example, let's say it's a flat tax of 100 per firearm. That's 200 million times $100, or $20 billion annually.

  • zandru on January 13, 2013 11:03 AM:

    James M observes that "...and online sites have given these people a voice, social validation and a sense of unity. These things have also made it easier for them to communicate with one another and cooperate in political action"

    Definitely. But the really weird part is that lefties have these same tools available (okay, less of the talk radio and fewer teevie networks), but when WE get together on most sites that I've seen - firedog, digby, etc - we gripe about the fecklessness of our own side and condemn any and all actions "the Democrats" take, both after the fact and in advance. In theory, these sites could be used for "networking", planning coordinated actions, maximizing political influence.

    But no. The preference is to complain, condemn, and give up. How come??

    Actually, "why" is probably not the most productive thing to ask. Rather "How can this situation be changed?"

  • Ozark_Hillbilly on January 13, 2013 12:57 PM:

    I am for reasonable restrictions for the one thing that causes more death, maiming, abuse, misery, sickness, abuse and neglect than any other legal item in the US. There should be a national registry on who is allowed to purchase and who is not. With fingerprint technology and instant computer checks, a person can be approved or denied instantly. I think there should be a ten-day waiting period, limits on how much a person can buy per month, severe penalties for misuse, that all retail sales should be in federally-licensed establishments, and advertising in any and all forms should be outlawed. We know we cannot outlaw this item, but if we make ALCOHOL less available, less glamorous, harder to buy, easier to trace, then the incidents of abuse, neglect, violence, accidents, illness, will drop dramatically. Why do we ignore the 800 pound gorilla, ALCOHOL, that is directly associated with five times more evil than anything else?

  • Anonymous on January 18, 2013 1:25 PM:


    The largest single cause of premature death remains tobacco. Tobacco use was dropping rapidly as long as the governments were using the tax money on tobacco on stop smoking programs. Stop smoking programs were immensely successful. Then legislatures started diverting the money to other uses and smoking is on the increase again.

    5% of the beer drinking public use 50% of the beer sold.

    Firearms are not addictive like tobacco and alcohol They serve no socially significant purpose inside cities and towns. But all three are products produced for massive profit and are pushed by the producers. The producers are parasites who cannot be totally stamped out (free enterprise and profit motive), but need to be carefully controlled and restricted.

  • alix on January 21, 2013 8:11 AM:

    " the so-called Second Amendment Rally at the Washington Monument on April 19, 2010, the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 Americans"

    Were they celebrating that bombing? I don't understand this mindset at all. And it's so opposed to the usual conservative/Republican support for institutions and order-- how can this group co-exist with conservatives? I really don't get why the National Review isn't calling them out and saying this is treason.

  • Jeff Richard on January 24, 2013 10:45 PM:

    Wow. This blog has more one-sided lines of scholarly b.s. than a Donald Trump masters dissertation. What an embarrassment. From reading this article and the comments I can predict a few certainties. NONE of the responders have served our country in a law enforcement, military, or other similar role. None of you live in an area which has suffered from diminished law enforcement protection due budget cut backs. None of you has thought through a scenario in which your fifteen year old daughter is facing a home invader and your IPhone 5 is no where to be found. Try this. Dial 911 in a rural area and count the eternally long minutes as they pass by before help arrives. Wake up people. You stand a better chance of being killed by a texting stockbroker driving down the interstate in a new C class Mercedes than by a bullet from a law-abiding citizen of this free nation.

  • Donald C. Kosloff on January 26, 2013 12:59 AM:

    Dial 911 in the city so that the police can quickly draw the chalk line around your body. With the huge increase in guns, the homicide rates in the whole country have dropped substantially. Of course, the homicide rates have dropped less in places that have more restrictions on firearms possession. For decades, I was an active supporter of more "gun-control" laws until the first "assault weapon" ban was signed into law. Then the scales fell from my eyes and I opened my mind to more factual information. Now I am a strong supporter of improved firearms accessiblity for law-abiding people. Although I do not own a gun myself, my wife and daughter do. Ironically, before we were married, I talked my wife into selling her handgun.