Sunday, January 29, 2017

Do Liberals And Progressives Need To Arm Themselves?

I found myself asking this question recently.  I apologize in advance if it is offensive.  Unfortunately, I believe that it's unavoidable.

Over the past three decades, America's love affair with guns has reached a level that, to extend the metaphor, borders on the pornographic.  All over the country, fear has driven individuals to collect entire arsenals, and to band together to form so-called "citizen's militias."  This phenomenon may be more prevalent in red states than in blue ones.  But make no mistake:  this is truly a nationwide phenomenon.  It has the backing of the National Rifle Association, which has degenerated from an organization devoted to the proper use and handling of firearms to a lobby for gun manufacturers that care about nothing except sales.

And make no mistake about something else:  guns are meant to be used, and used to kill.  And kill they have, with the help of people who often have no clue about what they were doing or why they were doing it.  Sadly, during the Obama years, guns were used in that way to horrifying and tragic effect.  More specifically, they were used in ways that, taken in the aggregate, illustrate the terrible truth about America, past and present:  we the people are divided not by state boundaries, or by economic classes, but by race.  White violence perpetrated against black people, by white men fearful of having lost the privilege of skin color in an age when a black man can occupy the Oval Office.

Truth to tell, however, it wasn't always this one sided.

There was a time, during the 1960s, when an organization known as the Black Panthers sprung up in Oakland, California, in response to the inability of the (white) police force to protect them.  The Panthers provided a number of social services to the community, but its main reason for being was self-defense.  Armed self-defense.

And the thought of guns in the hands of African-Americans scared the living daylights out of white male conservatives, so much so that they became strong advocates of ... wait for it ... gun control laws.  Interesting how different the politics of the issues changes when the trigger is being pulled by the other finger, isn't it.  All Bill of Rights amendments are equal, but some are, at different times, more equal than others.

You can read a little about this history here, in a online chat I discovered when I took the title to this post and turned it into a Google search.  You can also see that not a few progressives think, in the current climate, that the idea of liberals reclaiming their Second Amendment rights is not a bad one.

Does that surprise you?  It doesn't surprise me.  I've been thinking about doing it myself.

I haven't done it yet.  My wife discourages me from doing so, because she's afraid of having guns in the house that our granddaughters visit on a regular basis.  And, thus far, I've respected that concern.

But I'm not sure I'll be able to do so indefinitely.

Don't get me wrong.  I am not interested in organizing, or joining, a militia.  I'm not interested in possessing or carrying firearms for the sake of threatening others in any way, shape or form.  But I am interested in protecting the lives of my family, and perhaps others that I care about.  And the combination of an all-Republican federal government and its racist gun-toting supports makes me think that protecting those lives is a priority that is higher and more real than I would like it to be.

I'm not enjoying this state of affairs.  I'm just trying to face it, head-on.  It may very well be the case that the only way to get this country to a sensible place on guns is for liberals to become as dangerous to conservatives as they are to us.  They only seem to speak in the language of bullets. For our own sakes, and for the nation's sake, it may be time for progressives to become fluent.

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