So it begins.
While watching Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s concession speech, gun owner AJ Sullivan had a sinking feeling.
“Liberals like to ban guns. That’s what it comes down to,” said Sullivan, 25, a Texas Christian University student.
Sullivan was among hundreds scrambling to buy a weapon Thursday at
the gun store Cheaper Than Dirt! — which sold $101,000 in merchandise
the day after the election, shattering its single-day sales record,
said store owner DeWayne Irwin.
Stories were similar across Texas, where residents are fiercely
protective of their Second Amendment rights and now fear stricter
gun-control laws under Democratic President-elect Barack Obama.
“There’s a mindset here of freedom, and you’ve bitten off more than
you can chew if you think you can come after Texans’ guns,” said
Charlissa Stokes, co-owner of Panhandle Gunslingers, an Amarillo
shooting range and gun store where sales have doubled the last few days.
At Houston’s Memorial Shooting Center, gun sales are up 70 percent
and “the whole wall of assault rifles is gone,” said manager Richard
Fort Worth’s Cheaper Than Dirt! reported about $480,000 in sales in
October 2007 but $890,000 last month, jumping to $1 million including
the first four days of November, Irwin said. About half of the sales
are guns, mostly assault rifles and other weapons that would be subject
to the assault-weapons ban if it is reinstated, he said.
President Bush and Congress allowed it to expire in 2004, 10 years after President Clinton signed the ban into law.
“A few weeks before the election most customers were younger and
weren’t old enough to buy guns in ’94 when the assault-weapons ban took
effect, but they’d heard stories from their parents,” Irwin said. “On
Wednesday, the older folks woke up and said, ‘Oh, crap. McCain didn’t
win, and Obama’s going to ban guns,’ and they came in here. There’s
also a Democratic Congress, so they’re saying it’s going to happen.”
Obama has said he supports an individual’s rights to own guns with
reasonable restrictions, so it seems that a “narrow subsection” of gun
owners are afraid of being denied access to assault weapons, said Doug
Pennington, spokesman for the Brady Campaign, which supported the
National Rifle Association spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said it does
not track U.S. gun sales, but anecdotal evidence at stores in recent
weeks indicates many residents “didn’t buy Obama’s spin.” The 4
million-member NRA had distributed literature claiming Obama would be
“the most anti-gun president in American history” and said anti-gun
groups endorsed him.
Mark Mendiaz, 35, said he voted for Obama because he felt the
country was headed in the wrong direction and never heard the
candidates discuss gun control. But Mendiaz, a Navy veteran who owns a
handgun and rifle, said he started thinking about it after receiving
On Thursday Mendiaz bought an AR-15, a semiautomatic rifle similar
to what soldiers use, for target practice or to sell later, he said.
“If there’s going to be a ban, it just creates a market,” Mendiaz
said. “The bad people probably have them, and the honest people will
probably get left out.”
First of all, let me say this: I am a gun owner. That’s right. Crazy, liberal me. And I have absolutely no fear that anyone’s going to come take it away. Zero. However, even if my type of weapon were outlawed, I wouldn’t be pissing myself with fear. If it’s the law, and it’s just, you comply. If you think it’s unjust, and disobey in a civil manner, then you have to face the music. Personally, I don’t think that restrictions on certain kinds of weapons are unjust. Now that I’ve got that cleared up, on to the smart-assery.
Look, I know some of these people are NRA drones who believe that any Democrat (but especially Caliph Hussein Marx Obama X) will ban all guns. The NRA was balls-to-the-wall against Gore in 2000 and Kerry in 2004. Just like thepissing and moaning from other corners of the right-wing nuthouse, the current imagined crisis these people face is always The Worst Ever. They did it with al-Qaeda, they did it with Iraq, they did it with the fake-ass Social Security scam, the Patriot Act, FISA, everything. These people live in a state of permanent panic. Frankly, I don’t know how they do it.
But I’m sure there’s more to some of these people’s motivation. I say this because I’m related to lots of people like these men and women who have lined up to buy guns. And they are afraid. But they’re not just afraid of the NRA’s “tyrannical government” boogeyman (and ain’t it funny how we didn’t hear a peep out of them for the last eight years, when the government really did engage in an unprecedented power grab?). No.
They’re afraid that black people are gonna come take their shit.
I know a lot of people–typically educated, middle- to upper-middle-class types–laugh when they hear this idea. “Oh, no one could believe that discredited myth.”
It’s a powerful, longstanding fear in this country. Why, an educated person might even call it anidée fixe. I’ll let you know if I run into one of those. You never hear this idea articulated among “polite” people; maybe it’s just too shameful to face up to your own warts-and-all history. But damn if there aren’t millions of terrified white people in this country. It’s part of why our social safety net is the stingiest one in the industrialized world. Rich white people have managed to convince poor white people that poor black people are taking their shit (via progressive taxation). And this strategy has worked like a charm. This is a very important part of why poor white people continually vote against their economic interests. It’s ugly, and it’s petty, and it’s short-sighted. But there it is.
And now they’re buying guns. Lots of guns. To keep their shit safe.
It doesn’t matter that the chance of the feared Black Uprising happening is less than the chance that I’ll become a Sarah Palin fanboy. The fear lives on. Here’s an idea for the future: Maybe, just maybe, if you didn’t systematically fuck over a group of people for several centuries, you wouldn’t have to be afraid of their retribution.
And, finally, I have a short cartoon for you. Yeah, some of the stuff isn’t completely accurate, but it’s still fun. Enjoy!