Making Excuses

I got really upset a couple of weeks ago when I saw a Facebook quiz that asked something like "do you support Barack Obama's attempt to take away our guns?" (I have a number of very conservative Facebook friends from my high school and college days.) After all, whatever liberal moves President Obama has made, stricter gun control has not been one of them. In fact, the Democratic Party as a whole seems to have ceded that debate toward the side of personal ownership--there are still fierce gun control advocates in the party, but they couldn't get a bill passed if they tried.

I've moved on from upset to bemused on this topic since then, but I was reminded of just how silly/scary the right can be this morning when I read this piece on how there's an ammunition shortage because demand is higher than ever before. What amuses me is the cognitive dissonance on display in the article.

Bullets, especially for handguns, have been scarce for months because gun enthusiasts are stocking up on ammo, in part because they fear President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress will pass antigun legislation — even though nothing specific has been proposed and the president last month signed a law allowing people to carry loaded guns in national parks....

“I call it the Obama effect,” said [Jason] Gregory, 37, of Terrytown, La. “It always happens when the Democrats get in office. It happened with Clinton and Obama is even stronger for gun control. Ammunition will be the first step, so I’m stocking up while I can.”
No legislation, not even any rhetoric on gun control, and yet there's fear of having guns and ammo taken away. I heard about this concern before the election from a couple of former fraternity brothers (one of whom got so obnoxious on Facebook that I recently cut ties with him), and no matter how much I tried to convince them that there was no plot to take their guns away, they wouldn't hear it.

The silly side of this is that these people are manufacturing fear out of nothing, spinning it out of the air. They're making themselves paranoid and spending lots of money on something based on this irrational notion that there's a secret plot to disarm them and take their freedoms away. The scary side of it is that these people don't seem to get that they're being irrational, and any move to convince them otherwise only reinforces their paranoia.

It would really be amusing if the potential consequences weren't so high. I mean, one of the primary arguments put forward in favor of personal gun ownership is that an unarmed populace is easily dominated by an armed government, and that the populace should stand as a bulwark against a totalitarian government in defense of personal liberty. The reality is that even if armed populace were united against this government, any attempted revolution could be put down by your average big city police force these days, or the state National Guard at worse. There's not as much overlap between the two groups as right-wingers like to claim. It would still be needlessly bloody, however, and over what? A fear of something there's no evidence will ever take place.

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