Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Genocide and Gun Control

Let me get this straight. If the people of United States of America, the land of the free and the home of the brave (and well-armed), allow any further regulation of the gun industry and gun owners, we will become Cambodia under the Pol Pot regime. Or the Jews under Nazi Germany, or the kulaks under Stalin, or, you name it, any group in any society in any country that suffered mass murder, purges, or genocide under the authoritarian regime of some brutal dictator. That’s the message of today’s NRA and its Second Amendment ideologues. Genocide is the gun lobby’s Patronus Charm, the positive energy force that defends against the dark forces of gun control.

Clearly, the people who make these claims are bat shit crazy, but a lot of gun nuts who aren’t crazy believe them. Why? Because they’re stupid, ignorant (there is a difference), or obstinate, i.e., they’re going to believe what they believe. Period.

Of course there are people who make these claims who are neither stupid nor crazy; they’re actually quite crafty, if undeniably crass.These are the people who manufacture and sell guns, and the people, like Wayne LaPierre, who make a lot of money helping them to continue their chosen field of endeavor, unfettered. And let’s not leave out the members of Congress who pander to the legions of gun freaks who buttress their voting base.

A considerable amount of effort has gone into refuting and defending the view that gun control leads to or sets the groundwork for genocide, especially regarding Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. Any person even superficially knowledgeable about the Holocaust would laugh off the argument that gun control “played a major role” in the “eradication of German Jewry,” as argued by one pro-gun lawyer (Stephen Halbrook, 2000). Still, others have gone to great lengths to examine in detail the firearms policies of Germany under the National Socialists (Nazi Germany), and those of the preceding Weimar Republic (which actually had more restrictive gun control laws; see Bernard E. Harcourt, 2004).

All of this literature and rhetoric is “sound and fury signifying nothing.” Any attempt to distill genocide into any single cause or constituent is an exercise in absurdity. The only constant in the historical context of ethnic, religious, tribal, societal, or sexual genocide is man’s inhumanity to man. But the debate plays nicely into the hands of the NRA and gun lobby.

The juxtaposition of genocide and gun control is a red herring thrown into the gun control debate in order to deflect attention from the real issue of how to reduce America’s appalling prevalence of gun violence. This fish is well past its ‘use-by’ date, it stinks, and it should be thrown in the garbage along with members of Congress who refuse to address the will of the people on strengthening gun control.

No comments: