Wanted: Adult Supervision for the Gun Nuts

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Guns have never been a hot button for me. On a pragmatic level, I don’t think they have a big effect on crime. On a constitutional level, I’ve long accepted that the Second Amendment does indeed confer a personal right to bear arms. (A limited right, sure, but that’s true of every right in the Constitution.) And on a political level, it’s obvious that America has a long and deep cultural attachment to guns that simply isn’t going away.

But last week the NRA proudly announced a new president: James Porter, a man who, among other things, refers to Barack Obama as a  “fake President”; apparently thinks the Civil War was a great example of an armed citizenry resisting Northern tyranny; and advocates training all civilians in the use of standard military firearms so “they’re ready to fight tyranny” yet again. Fellow Southerner Ed Kilgore is distinctly unamused:

Am I perhaps being unfair to these people in suggesting that they are behaving like America-haters and are flirting with treason? I don’t think so. Porter and those like him could dispel this sort of suspicion instantly, any time they wanted, by just saying: “Let’s be clear: the kind of ‘tyranny’ we are arming ourselves to forestall is something entirely different from anything Americans have experienced since we won our independence—a regime engaged in the active suppression of any sort of dissent, and the closure of any peaceful means for the redress of grievances. We’re not talking about the current administration, or either major political party, as presently representing a threat of tyranny.”

I’m not holding my breath for any statements like that to emerge from the NRA, or indeed, from the contemporary conservative movement. It’s ironic that people who almost certainly think of themselves as patriots—perhaps as super-patriots—are deliberately courting the impression that loyalty to their country is strictly contingent on the maintenance of laws and policies they favor, to be achieved if not by ballots then by bullets. Republican politicians should be repudiating such people instead of celebrating them, accepting their money and support, and even adopting their seditious rhetoric.

Normally, I’d brush off Porter’s comments as nothing more than a guy blowing off steam in front of a friendly audience. And to a large extent, I do. Still, Ed is right. If an imam in Brooklyn toured the country saying stuff like this, no one would just laugh it off. Ditto for a Black Panther or the head of the American communist party. Fox News would go ballistic.

This kind of stuff has gone well beyond the stage of being a joke or merely a way to rally the troops, and it’s long past time for some of the alleged adults in the conservative movement to rein it in. Enough’s enough. Guns have never been a hot button for me in the past, but the NRA is sure working hard to make them into one.

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Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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