“Americans F*&$a^# Love Guns”

I don’t post much about guns and electoral/party politics on my blogs because I find them frustrating and impediments to understanding gun culture. But I was visiting one of my best friends recently and talking about paths forward for my gun culture book. One path we discussed was engaging conventional gun politics more directly.

A fellow sociologist, my friend is a left-leaning centrist who has become a political junkie of sorts in recent years. This includes consuming a healthy diet not just of liberals like Alex Wagner and Nicolle Wallace on MSNBC but also the ideas of conservatives via media like the Michael Steele Podcast and Charlie Sykes’ The Bulwark.

He mentioned during our discussion that I should look at the brief bit about guns in Republican strategist Rick Wilson’s 2018 book, Everything Trump Touches Dies.

Wilson’s bottom line: “Americans fucking love guns” (p. 75).

Wilson gets to this bottom line by addressing Democrats directly:

Do you want to know how we beat you, over and over and over? This is going to sting for my Democratic friends, but one of the easiest ways for people on my side to disqualify you with large chunks of American voters is on the subject of guns. I know, for you gun control is a central article of the liberal faith.

I know that Parkland convinced you that Everything Changed. As telegenic as the Parkland kids are, guns are wired into America’s DNA in a way they, and you, don’t grasp. . . .

Most of you don’t understand guns and the role they play in America’s culture away from the coasts. You can’t grasp that millions and millions of Americans who own guns, hunt, shoot for sport or pleasure, or carry for self-defense hear your attacks on guns as attacks on them. . . .

I can hear your objections already. “What about Parkland? Las Vegas? Sandy Hook? What about . . . ?” I get it. No one thinks crazy people should own guns, including the staunchest NRA member. I’m not arguing policy with you. I’m telling you what the real politics are, and they’re not what you think. First, you’re fooling absolutely no one with the phrase ‘sensible gun safety.’ We all know perfectly well that phrase came out of a focus group. You say that, and red state voters hear “gun confiscation.” You conflate criminals and the insane with lawful gun owners and users, and you can’t imagine why my side doesn’t think you’re reasonable. Let me use an esoteric, technical polling phrase for you: Americans fucking love guns.

Rick Wilson, Everything Trump Touches Dies (2018, pp. 74-75)

Cutting through the partisanship and bluster, there are some significant insights here.

(1) There are different social worlds in America around guns, some of which see and experience guns as normal and normal people using guns, and some of which largely experience and understand guns in connection with criminal violence.

As political scientist Mark Joslyn observes, in the former social world, guns serve practical purposes and create strong emotional connections; in the latter social world, guns serve no practical purposes and create strong emotional resistance. This gets translated politically as polarization.

(2) Republicans wisely capitalize on this by making guns a political wedge issue, and Democrats do so at their peril. A common lament among liberal gun owners I know is that they wish their Democratic politicians — with whom they agree on so much — would just stop with the rebrand of gun control into “commonsense gun laws”(tm).

That said, don’t expect much more from me on conventional politics and guns. These insights notwithstanding, talking to my friend and reading a few pages of this book reinforced my aversion.

11 thoughts on ““Americans F*&$a^# Love Guns”

  1. Just ordered Joslyn’s The Gun Gap. As GC 2.0 expands to include an ever broader slice of demographics, the ‘othering’ of gun owners Joslyn describes becomes both a harder sell to the general population, and more intense in the anti-gun sphere. And, based on my observations, increasingly hyper-emotional and zealous. Denied their objectives and reeling from a string of legal setbacks, gun control activists have only ramped up their push & vitriol, with no foreseeable extinction in sight.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I believe, that with current policies, if the democrats step back from the wilder fringes of progressive socialism and dump their aggressive anti-gun laser focus, the republican party as it exists today would be crushed. (This is a criticism of both parties, as it stands I have to hold my nose and “Vote for the one that is less likely to bring me to immediate ruin, and hope things don’t fall past a point of no return before the next regime takes the opposite stance”)

    Democrats need to realize that gun control as they currently have it framed (universal background checks, broad gun free zone policies, assault weapon and magazine bans, purchase limits) are a losing issue and the only reason Republicans are even viable in some sectors is the single-issue voters. It’s like their political strategists have blinders on. It wouldn’t even take a 180 on guns, just a curtailing of focus, to stop being an active and imminent threat to gun rights, for them to dominate the next several election cycles while the Republican party remains weakened in Orange Man Turmoil.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Is it beneficial to sea lions as a species, for the males to develop huge bodies and fight viciously to establish a haram, to the point of sometimes trampling their own offspring? No, but for an individual sea lion, it’s vital to success _within_ the species. Similarly, any politician who wants to gain support of, and donations from, his or her Party base, and secure the nomination, must adopt positions that especially appeal to that base. Most Americans now oppose an AWB, but Dem loyalists overwhelmingly favor it. At least half of American households have a gun in it, but relatively few Democrat ones. So demonizing ‘bitter clingers’ plays great to the Dem base.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Taking Fire from “The Gun Community” – Gun Culture 2.0

  4. Pingback: Americans F&%$ing Love Guns - GAT Daily (Guns Ammo Tactical)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.