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August 4th, 2019

Until He Opened Fire, The El Paso Shooter Was Perfectly Legal Walking Into WalMart With That Rifle

This came across my Twitter feed today…

I was walking to work at a Very early hour a few days ago, and as I walked through the Giant parking lot and passed by the doughnut shop, a young woman parked nearby, exited her car and walked inside. I noticed she was wearing a gun on her hip. For an instant I paused and looked more closely. She wasn’t in any sort of uniform, but this is Maryland and even in our (allegedly) crime and rat infested city the crooks don’t open carry. So I assumed she was either an off duty policewoman or a private security person of some sort, and I just walked on.

Here in Maryland, precisely because it’s a nearly impossible mountain to climb for a private citizen to get a concealed carry permit, let alone an open carry one, I can pretty reasonably make that assumption. If you’ve got it on your hip where everyone can see it then you’re licensed and you’ve passed numerous background checks and it’s more likely than not that you can be trusted with that weapon.

That’s not the case in “shall issue” “open carry” states, and people have been warning about this for years now. The El Paso shooter just walked into that WalMart with his rifle and Pierce is right; the police or any security personnel challenged him he could have sued. And that is exactly the sort of unassailable right the NRA republicans want to make it.

Here’s the problem with that: you can’t tell is someone is about to shoot someone in the store you’re in, let alone about to go on a crazed shooting spree, until they open fire, and even if there is a “good guy with a gun” nearby it’s going to take them a moment to react and grasp the situation and by then the shooter has killed dozens.

No. Just…no. It isn’t too much to ask that you need a license to carry, and that getting one requires a serious background check and the same sort of pertinent fitness testing that you need to get a driver’s license, plus a reasonably good rational for obtaining it. Plus whatever it is you carry it can’t be anything more than a defensive weapon. You want to walk around with a military style rifle go join the army.

But there is more going on here than just the completely expectible result of laws made to the specifications of gun fetishists. And to focus on the racial hate that motivated the shooter is important yes, but dig a little deeper. It’s not about guns specifically. On Twitter, David Roberts posts: 

Another reminder: an atmosphere in which random violence is always possible, in which catastrophic loss of healthcare is always possible, makes people fearful, anxious, & angry. They draw their circles of concern inward. They literally become *more conservative*.

To which Roy Edroso replies:

I’ve been saying this for years. Conservatives are anti-intellectual because they know educated people are less likely to be conservative. Similarly they want to arm everyone to promote social mistrust, which also promotes conservatism.

It’s more than they’re in the pocket of the NRA and it isn’t simply about guns or the right to own your own in a democracy. It’s precisely about breaking down the social bonds between Americans that were developing since the civil rights movement, because at a gut level the concept of neighbor doesn’t reach very far with them. They don’t even see those bonds. They think of America they think of other white folks just like them, who dress like they do, speak like they do, go to the same churches they do, read the same newspapers and listen to the same Fox News and Talk Radio they do. And when liberals speak of America in more encompassing terms they start yap yap yapping about socialism and communism because to them it’s taking Their America and giving to to all those horrible mostly not white others.

An armed society so they say, is a peaceful one. But here comes the evidence and it’s twofold. No it isn’t peaceful, it’s fearful, and yes, actually that’s not a bug, it’s a feature. They want us all to be afraid because, yes, that promotes conservativism. But more importantly they want their own kind, white, protestant, presentable and mannerly on the outside, simple and mean on the inside, to be afraid of everyone else. So the ranks hang together and vote as a block to keep the Others in their place. It actually is about promoting social mistrust. Because in a ghastly fundamental way, they are afraid of…well…damn near everything. It’s not so much a plan as a knee jerk reflex to undermine anything smacking of social progress because oh dear lord the darkies will be using our swimming pools next thing you know, and the wimmen folk will be wanting a say in their reproductive lives, and the homos good god almighty will be holding hands in public, and atheists will be teaching our children about evolution!

At some level I’m sure there are many conservatives that are genuinely horrified by these mass shootings, but also weary about liberal bellyaching about it, as if mass shootings were a bigger threat to the nation than universal healthcare, gay marriage, socialism, the Islamic hordes, antifa and…well…white replacement.

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