If You Need a Gun, You Are Not Free

I peeked into the Trumpverse a bit and what I saw was unsurprising, but it surprised me anyway. I did not go to Breitbart or some similar far-right downright fascist propaganda sites. I just went to a YouTube channel that I had a reason to believe will have a high percentage of Trumpists in its following and I looked at comments under the only one video about recent politics the channel is hosting. I did not linger for too long, I did not even watch the whole video, just a few minutes and a few comments sufficed. This tiny window into the mind of a regular trumpist was informative, although I do not know what can be done with that information if anything.

From where I stand, Trumpism is just a new flavor of fascism. It is about the government controlling people, dictating what they can and cannot do with their private lives, in their private homes, sometimes even with their own bodies.

From where at least some Trumpists stay, the opposite is superficially true. They think that Biden is a socialist and that he is going to try and control them and take their personal freedoms. Their position with regard to him is the same as the position of leftists is in regard to Trump. And they despair and fear for their future after Biden’s win just as leftists despaired and feared for their future four years ago.

The problem seems not to be whether one values freedom, but what one considers to be freedom. Due to the main focus of the site I was visiting, there was a strong bias towards one uniquely American thing – guns, guns, guns. They see the right to own guns as the most important freedom one of them all, and they think that by having guns they are safeguarding all their other freedoms against a potential governmental overreach.

Which is, of course, bullshit. In modern times any uprising in which the government’s armed forces do not join in with the people is doomed to fail. Rifles, handguns, and knives are no match for tanks, rockets, and drones. But they really, really believe their fantasy that the right to have guns keeps them free and that is why they are/were voting for Trump and Republicans. They fear Biden is going to confiscate their guns and thus, by proxy, take away all their freedoms.

I do not believe these people can be reasoned with, but it seems to me they are overlooking one important aspect. If they need a gun to feel safe from an imminent governmental overreach, then they already are not free. Not only are they shackled by an unreasonable fear of something they would be powerless to oppose if it happened anyway, but they also keep the whole society in shackles of another fear – of random mass shootings, of armed militias going berserk, of random gun accidents. And if their fear of governmental overreach necessitating armed opposition were justified, then the government is already completely dysfunctional.

I lived my whole life in a society without guns, and a third of that life in a totalitarian regime. Fear of random stranger shooting up a school or a workplace never was on my radar, indeed I did not even know such things exist on the scale they do in the USA well into my thirties. And when the totalitarian regime fell, it was not because people took arms and stormed the whatever, it fell because the armed forces refused to shoot unarmed citizens and/or the top brass were hesitant to give such orders (personal anecdotes and historian descriptions vary). Having more guns in that situation would not make a difference except turning the Velvet Revolution into a Scarlet Revolution. I am not saying that armed revolutions are not sometimes necessary, or that they neer worked, but I am saying they do not work as these people imagine them.

But as far as I could see, the gut-wrenching fear and despair at Biden win were genuine. They really think that socialism means the state is going to get them, shackle them, and ruin their country. They really, honestly believe that Republicans and Trump were and are doing a good job, for them personally and for the American people as a whole.

Guns and abortins, these two issues are the only ones that matter to them. And only Republicans give them what they want.

And I am at a loss how to mend divides soo deeply entrenched in society. How do you snap someone out of a whole life of propaganda?


  1. StonedRanger says

    The republicans and the right have been using this scare tactic of ‘they is coming for our guns’ for many decades. They still have their guns. And not to put too fine a point on it, but if you think that all these people have is rifles, shotguns, handguns and knives, you would be sadly mistaken. There are machine guns, artillery pieces, anti tank guns and even tanks and drones too. Maybe the drones most people have arent on the same level as the us governments, but they have them. Its going to be a bloodbath for both sides if a civil war breaks out. I dont disagree that most of these people live in fear. Who doesnt in these times?

  2. sonofrojblake says

    they despair and fear for their future after Biden’s win just as leftists despaired and feared for their future four years ago.

    The difference is: their fears are unjustified. Proof: eight years of Obama in charge, including presiding over arguably the worst, most disgusting, gut-wrenching mass/school shooting in history, and you can’t point to a single person who was forced to give up their gun because of any of that.

  3. Gelaos says

    And I am at a loss how to mend divides soo deeply entrenched in society.

    Perhaps having more options than just republican-democrat bipolarism would reduce the trenches in society, I don’t know… Otherwise the only (and perhaps most likely) “solution” is mending by force.

  4. says

    I think it’s also a question whether you live in reality or in Tru-Trump land.
    Their fears may be as genuine as those of the people who were shocked when Trump was elected, but the latter were well-founded while the former are complete bollocks.

  5. Bruce says

    In the American context, “socialism” refers to scary countries with too much socialism, such as the communist paradise of the United Kingdom, or of Germany. There, the reds such as Boris Johnson or Angela Merkel plot to exceed Bernie Sanders in wanting their citizens to see doctors and similar evil stuff. They’re all part of the Stalin/Thatcher axis.

  6. lochaber says

    I had nothing but disdain for Amon Bundy and his pack of morons when they occupied that wildlife refuge a few years back. You wouldn’t even need the artillery, tanks, or even weapons company or platoon attachments, a single active duty infantry squad would have just rolled right over them.

    Too many of these nitwits focus on the gear, and neglect the training. And while active duty infantry isn’t training 24/7, they are training a good bit, and on average, probably more than any ten or twenty of those idiots piled together. It’s not just marksmanship, but also changing magazines, clearing jams, identifying and using cover, and most importantly, team work. Working with the rest of your team/squad -- providing cover fire while they are moving, and moving when they provide cover fire, delegation of targets/threats, etc.

    Some jackass sitting in a lawn chair under a tarp with a rifle… That person isn’t any sort of threat to any military unit, they are barely even a distraction.

    I live in Oakland, CA -- most of these people would not even think of driving through my home city without a firearm or several. I don’t own a gun, I don’t even own a car. I walk, bike, and take public transit everyday. Granted, I’m an able-bodied male, so there is a bit of privilege in that, but even so, I’ve walked home blackout drunk multiple times. Not that crime and violence doesn’t happen here, but it’s not nearly at the rate that the right wing media makes it out to be, and a lot of it is either specifically targeted or opportunistic, so, as long as you don’t go around starting beefs with people, and try to maintain some awareness of your surroundings, you’ll probably be fine…

  7. brucegee1962 says

    For these people who believe the purpose of their guns is to keep the government in check, I want to ask four questions:
    1) On July 7, 2016, Micah Xavier Johnson, believing that the police were a threat to him and other Black men, shot and killed five police officers in Houston. Do you support his actions?
    2) On June 14, 2017, James Hodgkinson attempted to assassinate the entire Republican congressional delegation that was practicing baseball that morning, and was prevented from his goal only because of a closed gate. Throw in the attempted assassination of Gabrielle Giffords on January 8, 2011 in Arizona. Were these both commendable actions?
    3) On November 5, 2009, Nidal Hasan shot and killed 13 soldiers at Fort Hood, and five years later Evan Lopez killed three more at the same base. Should their actions be emulated?
    4) If your answer to any of those questions is yes, then you’re scaring me. But if the answer is no (as mine would be), then I ask you: if your guns are supposed to protect you from the government, but you aren’t in favor of shooting police, or politicians, or soldiers —— just who, exactly, were you planning to shoot?

  8. says

    @StonedRanger, I do not say (or think) that they only have rifles handguns, and knives, although that is mostly what they have. For every privately owned tank there are dozens of ones owned by the state, and in better condition and with more available ammunition, etc. The point is that no matter how much weaponry these people amass for themselves, they are and always will be hugely outmatched by US military both in quality and quantity of said weaponry. And that is even without taking training into account, as lochaber mentions.

    @sonofrojblake, Giliell, that their fears are irrational, unsubstantiated, and unjustified does not change the fact that those fears are real and they act on them. And the sad fact is that they have over 70 million allies in the USA. Without changing these people’s minds, further escalation is inevitable. And further escalation will lead to worse and worse conflicts. Civil war like the one over slavery is unlikely -- even the reddest of red states has about 30% sensible population -- but armed conflicts between opposing factions, more and more mass shootings, terrorist attacks, assassinations etc. are likely.

    @brucegee1962, I haven’t seen any mention of those specific instances, but what I have seen (in one article of the website owner) was general support for police and opposition to current protests. The internal contradiction of their views seemed lost on them.

  9. jrkrideau says

    @ 1 StonedRanger

    I don’t disagree that most of these people live in fear. Who doesnt in these times?

    Well on a day-to-day basis I expect the vast majority of the people in Charles’ country, in mine, and, for that matter, in China. A key function of a country’s government is to ensure its people’s safety.

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