The proliferation of guns in American society is not only profitable for gun manufacturers, it fools the disempowered into fetishizing weapons as a guarantor of political agency. Guns buttress the myth of a rugged individualism that atomizes Americans, disdains organization and obliterates community, compounding powerlessness. Gun ownership in the United States, largely criminalized for poor people of color, is a potent tool of oppression. It does not protect us from tyranny. It is an instrument of tyranny.
Yet another excellent essay by a man who is able to put all the rhetoric into historical perspective. As long as the myth of “liberty” is wedded to the concept of gun ownership, we won’t ever see any meaningful legislation on gun control get passed.
The really sad fucking thing is It’s never gonna change.
“From my cold dead hands” is the shorthand edition of what Hedge’s is saying and, to be sure, it does describe much of the history of guns and the current gun culture in this country.
However, there is always a danger in stereotyping. Not all gun owners are NRA robots. In fact, the majority of gun owners in this country do not belong to the NRA and a good many actually support more restrictions on guns.
The problem is that the NRA has so propagandized the gun community that the community viciously turns on any gun owner who dares to criticize the NRA or any member who contemplates even the mildest gun control measures. As an organization, the NRA panders to the most extreme element in the gun community. On the rare occasions when the NRA has appeared to soft on specific gun measures, the organization has quickly retracted it’s stance when manufacturers and the extreme element in its membership complained.
The dominance of the gun culture can be changed or, at lest, moderated, but to do so means loosening the stranglehold of the NRA on politicians and the gun community. This is why the current movement targeting the NRA, specifically, is encouraging and should be fully supported.
It’s a sad irony among gun nuts (sad because they are oblivious to it,) that contrary to showing they are tough and intimidating, having a gun means you are afraid. Duh–you think you need to carry a gun at all times because Trayvon Martin might jump up from behind a fence and scare you, or whatever you claim you need to defend yourself against would otherwise do you harm.
Inseparable from gun culture is the dominant trait–which envelopes even many who insist on gun control–of needing to come across as intimidating and always looking for a fight.
As always, Chris Hedges reveals a different, truer perspective on this issue than you will find anywhere else in the media-shaped “Conventional Wisdom”. I happen to think he has, buttressed by his excellent sources, come closer to the essential truths behind these uniquely American traits, which lead to so much senseless tragedy.
I know how you feel! Just remember the old axiom: “Never say never.” The universe has a way of seeking balance independently of our wants, wishes. fears and dreams.
I was talking to a fellow farmer the other day. I own a few guns, he owns quite a few. He did not understand why assault rifles were legal. He also said he sends the NRA $25 or $30 every now and then. I explained a few facts to him. I am hopeful that he now has a better understanding.
What an excellent article from Hedges. Excellent. Much, much to absorb, but this needs to be etched somewhere:
“If the ruling elites feared an armed uprising, a draconian form of gun control would instantly be law.”
Think about that phrase for awhile.
Exactly. Especially if people in urban ghettos were armed up with assault weapons, semi-auto and auto hand-guns, stun grenades, etc. Then we’d see gun “confiscation” like never before.
Yes, I’ve often wondered why, given the ever increasing poverty, outsourcing, political corruption, etc. in this country, there hasn’t been an armed revolt. Chris Hedges, once again, has put in perspective a deep problem facing this country. Most are not afraid of the government, but are afraid of the “wild masses of violent madmen” that will surely come to steal their goods and murder them, if the government should fall. There are “Survivalist” books out there that espouse this very thing.
I have no fondness for guns but lets not be delusional. How come other high gun ownership societies don’t have significant gun homicides to the extent we do (ie, Switzerland or Finland)?
Beware the ruling class end game: https://therulingclassobserver.com/2018/02/25/guns-and-the-ruling-class-end-game/
Gun ownership, says Hedges, “does not protect us from tyranny. It is an instrument of tyranny.” Guns are certainly not the answer but really. When your state is controlled by undemocratic forces, whether they call themselves Democrats or Republicans, does not mean the monopoly of guns by the government make it rather dangerous, and a latent tyranny (if it’s not manifestly one already)?
Every example in the third para of criminals with guns had the sanction and collusion of government in some form or other. Government often colluded with companies to terrorize the people who were often outgunned. You want government to ban guns without taking on its undemocratic failure? How do you think that’ll turn out once they’ve successfully purged guns from the public?
Like I say, I’m no fan of guns. A society that feels it needs guns for day to day safety is a failed society. One in which the rank and file refuse to deal, in accordance with their Liberal and Conservative masters.
This is something we have to deal with, like it or not.
Ronald Reagan was a big proponent of the 2nd amendment during his Presidency and in all of his speeches. But when the Black Panthers marched on the Sacramento statehouse with weapons pointed skyward back in 1967 while he was governor, republicans immediately passed a bill eliminating the right to openly carry weapons in California. The law was supported by the N.R.A. and quickly signed by Governor Reagan.
Thanks for reminding us.
once upon a time we needed guns to protect our land, when was the last time you heard of cattle rustling? they have taken this gun thing too far and i am so tired of arguing with gun nuts, especially those that wouldn’t pass a background check.
Last time I checked, there is an undemocratic government in power that protects banksters and sends it young to die and kill in unnecessary wars.
Chris Hedges writes thoughtful essays and I like the emphasis he puts here on the relationship to tyranny and the dispossessed.
Usually, when I see people write about gun culture, I think of the old saying (that I am just now making up):
“If you’ve never pooped in the forest, then you don’t know squat!”
America is a violent country. Our media, our movies, our songs, our games, our politics, our everything, are filled with violent images; filled with torture; filled with vigilante acts. Morality is rarely explored in depth and the ends justifying the means is standard fare. America has a violent culture. I think that is obvious and I feel I can intelligently say that because I grew up in that culture and understand it as a result.
Now, I am comfortable engaging about the Supreme Court cases or about data on guns, but I am uneasy when this gets translated into “gun culture”. I didn’t grow up in a household with guns. I’ve never owned a gun or had any desire to do so. So when it comes to the cultural aspects that gun owners feel - basically, I have never pooped in that forest so I don’t know squat.
Sure – I see people on the internet and in public life that seem paranoid about “big government” coming to take their guns away from them – seem extremist on anything related to firearms – seem dispossessed from a broader community - and seem to value property over person. But I still sense that I am missing any real chance at understanding because gun owners I’ve met in person don’t seem aligned with the characters claiming to represent them, and certainly don’t seem aligned with the stereotypes we assign them (and I suspect the reverse is true for them). Hunters I know seem self-satisfied about productively putting fresh food on the table more than self indulgent about killing animals – and they seem ready to share (sparing me from eating the results of the animal concentration camps that produce the butchered meat at the store).
There’s both a human side and a gun side to this. I like that Hedges tries to encapsulate the human side as he analyzes our sociopolitical fabric. I don’t care for arguments that look just at a guns = bad equation.
So true! But, in reaching balance, the process is very often unendurably painful. Many, many more innocents will be slaughtered before we finally decide to do something, anything to control the homicidal impulses of the NRA. And, in the case of climate change, the universe may balance us out of existence. Can there be angst in a world free of humans?
Let’s discuss reality as it actually is. Guns are political power. They are the fundamental bedrock of every law in the United States. Drill down in any given law, and you will come to the point where a govt employee’s gun backs it up.
So when you dismiss the fact that guns are political power, you are not making an accurate argument. You just want to not discuss the guns you do like underlying law, while treating those held in private hands as illegitimate.