Left Lashes Out At Links Between Police, Pro-Gun Ideology

Pro-gun advocates have long pointed out that guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens make us safer. This runs contrary to what anti-gunners claim, of course–because why would they admit the truth and undermine their entire movement?–but it is the truth. Armed citizens represent almost no threat to anyone while the problem really is criminals with guns, a problem that no new laws are ever going to solve.

I mean, they’re already criminals breaking the law, why would they obey new laws?

While many like to point out how police chiefs support these news laws, they forget that chiefs are political appointees. Their politics are suspect at any given point.

Rank and file police officers, though, routinely take a pro-gun stance. Now, the left is trying to figure out why.

Three years since Charlottesville, armed clashes at street protests over racial justice are still a defining feature of American politics, but the constellation of participants has changed. The white supremacists who paraded in fascist sword-and-sandals kitsch with homemade shields and spears have sharply receded. But the paramilitaries who showed up that August claiming to be neutral security are now represented in greater numbers. Nazis are out, patriots are in. And while cops sat on the sidelines in Charlottesville, they have welcomed “good guys with guns” to buttress “law and order” as they brutally suppress this year’s eruption of social justice protest, even though time and time again, the militias and armed citizens have provoked rather than deterred violence.

A new book from University of Arizona sociologist Jennifer Carlson goes a long way to explaining why. Drawing on interviews with 80 police chiefs, Policing the Second Amendment illuminates how central guns are to the ideology of police. Firearms carriers, including police,Carlson argues, believe that guns don’t merely offer personal protection: The weapons produce a larger social order, enforcing the boundary between “good guys” and “bad guys.” Thus carrying a gun is a higher form of citizenship: a commitment to wield deadly force to protect fellow Americans, which Carlson likens to “hardened care work.” For the subjects of her book, guns make the guy good, in a refraction of the old National Rifle Association adage that “guns don’t kill, people do.” It’s “bad guys” who commit criminal acts of violence, and only with guns can good people stop them. The implication, of course, is that gun carriers are constantly preoccupied with fear of lethal threat from a social other.

Rarely do the police chiefs or concealed carriers whom Carlson interviews stop to consider if the ubiquity of firearms in America is the source of that constant sense of danger. Instead, their worldview is guided by twin instincts: what Carlson calls “gun militarism” and “gun populism.” Gun militarism, espoused by essentially every chief she interviewed, is synonymous with the infamous “Warrior Cop” training that conditions police to think of the world as filled with enemies at every corner who must be overpowered at all costs, necessitating an arms race with criminals. Gun populism, meanwhile, aligns with the pro-gun dogma that lawful gun owners carrying in public make America safer either by providing quick responses to threats when police aren’t present or by deterring crime in the first place. One is a top-down approach to meeting an ever-present threat, the other bottom-up. Most of the chiefs Carlson interviewed argued that gun militarism and populism complement one another.

So, as usual, it’s the NRA’s fault.

Except, it’s really not.

See, the fact of the matter is that the rank and file cop on the street realizes that police can’t be everywhere. They see the same guns being arrested over and over again, a new gun each time despite having a record of felonies that stretches as long as my arm. They know the bad guys are getting guns and they can’t protect every living person on their beat. They want to, they just can’t.

So, they back those people having the means to defend themselves.

It’s just that simple.

Yet because of what they see, they find common cause with groups like the NRA that also want to make sure those people can have guns to defend themselves with.

Plus, let’s be honest. The guys screaming for gun control are also the ones screaming to defund the police. Should anyone be surprised the officers won’t find common cause with these people?

While the anti-gun left is trying desperately to understand why anyone would disagree with them, they can’t seem to bring themselves to understand that people disagree with them not because we’re stupid or manipulated, but because we believe their policy proposals to be an absolute trainwreck and would rather do shots of battery acid than support them.

How is this a difficult concept to grasp? And yet, they continue to not grasp it. Go figure.

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