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What I Learned From Pro-Gun Twitter

When I wrote about President Obama’s Executive Order about guns I specifically wasn’t trying to change anyone’s mind. There’s a reason for this. I am not trying to strip my opponents of their identities. Guns are their identities.

Obama coming for your guns

Jenny Trout posted a single tweet. My child is more important than your gun.

The replies are what you expect. Threats against her. Threats if she tries to come and take their guns. Fear. Yes, she picked the replies but what she posted was indicative of what happens when anyone says something even remotely about guns control online. Remember, this started with her saying my child is more important than your gun. She’s not coming to take them away. It’s not a pro-gun-control message. It’s a mother’s statement that her child is precious.

But she hits upon some truths I think we overlook when trying to have a debate about guns in this country.

The pro-gun right has one weapon, and that is fear. If they can’t make you fear “terrorists”, they’ll try to make you fear “thugs”. If they can’t make you fear “thugs”, they’ll jump to the hypothetical rape of your pretty white daughter. If they can’t make you afraid at all, they’ll become violently afraid of you. Then they’ll kill you, and say it was in self-defense because you tried to take their guns. Self-defense, because their guns are their selves. That’s why they’re panicking; if the government legislates their guns away, they’re legislating these peoples’ identities away.

For a group who uses fear as its main tactic, fear is at the heart of the issue. They see gun control as an attack on their guns which they view as part of their identity. Their guns are their selves. That’s why the government is so scary. It’s threatening to remove part of their identities. How do you even begin a discussion that starts with wanting to remove part of someone’s identity?

Update

Richard makes a great point. We need to deal with The Anger before we deal with The Gun.

The Anger is in all of us. The Anger manifests itself differently in each person, to different degrees. The Anger can be eased, it can be released safely, but it never goes away. You have to be taught how to deal with The Anger, but few people ever learn on their own. Fewer still know how to teach it. Instead, we try to sublimate The Anger, hide it, pretend it doesn’t exist. But it doesn’t go away. Without a way to acknowledge The Anger, to release it in a safe way, The Anger explodes, increasingly in a hail of gunfire.

The Anger feeds on the Fear. The result is a much darker version of Monty Python’s Spanish Inquisition sketch.

Two Sides

I try to understand both sides of an issue. I’ve gotten criticism from my side for not being on that side enough. I’m not coming out with guns drawn and scathing words. I understand there are two sides to everything. If there wasn’t, it would be an issue.

It’s easy to find the other side because other thoughtful thinkers will point it out. Not in a way of OMG DID YOU SEE THIS MESS? or I TOTALLY AGREE WITH THIS! But in a simple way of hey, look at this other perspective that’s different from my own. That’s important. It’s necessary to see the other side and why they believe what they believe. Even if I find it repugnant. I need to know where they’re coming from or we’ll never hope to meet on a common ground.

The most recent debate about the Confederate flag finds itself at the middle of a controversy just like this. For context, I grew up surrounded by them. It was a way of life for me to see it on cars, flying in front of houses and in the community where I lived. I didn’t think much of it because it was my privilege not to have to worry about it.

But I understand its history and its message. Whether it be heritage or hate doesn’t matter. It’s a symbol closely associated with slavery. Just as the swastika was a pagan symbol before the Nazis used it. You don’t see many swastikas around anymore.

Federico Viticci made a similar point on Twitter.
We also have a heritage in Italy. It’s called fascism. We don’t celebrate it or miss it. Time to grow up for some Americans.

Heritage and history do not exist in a vacuum. They’re two sides to every history. The side that gives you pride in the South also reminds others of a terrifying, painful period in their lives. Where their great-grandparents were literally owned by your great-grandparents. That’s the heritage.

Just as there are two sides to everything, there are people in the South who want to make the argument to remove the flag of the United States of America because of what it represents.

I saw a group from the South arguing against the US Flag because of what the country has become. I’m paraphrasing but they wanted it removed because of the acceptance of homosexuality, the deteriorating morals of the US and the liberals ruining the country.

I don’t agree with them and their belief doesn’t change the history associated with the Confederacy but there’s always another side. A side I absolutely disagree with.

The Confederate Flag is coming down. It’s no longer for sale in Wal-Marts, Amazon or eBay. Virginia’s Governor has a plan to remove the licenses plates with it from the state.

It will eventually come down in South Carolina, but not until some more work is done. It’s not as simple as merely lowering the flag. The flag cannot be lowered, only removed. It can clearly be seen in photos. The mechanism to remove it is under lock and key.

It’s time to move on. There is a line that needs to be drawn between heritage and hate. You’re allowed to do whatever you like in your own house. You can fly a flag on your farm and in your home if that’s your desire. But it’s time to remove it from government. It’s time to take it off government buildings.

Those buildings are not just used by those who want to fly the flag. The public grounds are used by everyone. They’re used by white and black alike. They’re used by people from all walks of life and it’s time to take down this symbol of hatred and slavery.

The Nazis gave Germany the autobahn and rocketry, the swastika is not an acceptable symbol of heritage in Germany or anywhere else. Your heritage is not more important than the atrocity accompanying it. It’s unacceptable to continue to fly and use a symbol that hurt so many for so long. It’s over.

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