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.