Gun Nuts And Nazis Descend On Virginia To Protest Entirely Reasonable Gun Control Laws
Today, on a day celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King, a man who was murdered by a racist gun nut, a bunch of gun nuts, many of whom are racist, are gathering in Virginia to protest some completely reasonable gun control laws proposed by the state government and supported by Governor Ralph Northam. So far, there hasn't been any violence, but given the fact that the rally is being attended by some of the most violent white nationalist groups in the country, don't hold your breath.
Last week, six neo-Nazi members of the violent white nationalist group "The Base" who had been planning to attend the rally were arrested for a variety of criminal behavior, including planning to murder some people and building an illegal assault rifle. For the past several weeks, other neo-Nazi and militia groups have been eagerly talking of their plans to attend the rally as well.
This morning, Donald Trump, acknowledging the protest, was quick to remind Republicans across the land that Democrats were coming for their guns by enacting super reasonable gun control laws aimed at curbing mass shootings.
Yeah, that's definitely not going to incite anyone to do anything untoward!
And exactly what are these proposed gun laws?
Well, given the fact that Virginia currently has some of the most permissive gun laws in the United States, they are not really much to write home about.
One would ban purchasing more than one gun a month, which seems more than generous. Who needs to buy more than one gun a month? You could subscribe to a Gun of the Month club and it would be totally legal! That law, for some reason, would not even apply to people with concealed carry permits.
Another would ban military-style assault rifles and silencers (maybe I watch too many procedurals, but if there are any uses for a silencer other than stealthily murdering people, I have not heard of one). The third would be a "red flag law" that would allow family members and police to petition to temporarily take guns away from people who are deemed to be a danger to themselves or others. I am not sure why people consider this terribly unreasonable, given that people meeting that requirement could also potentially be put on a 5150 and would almost definitely not be allowed to take their guns with them to a psychiatric hospital.
The fourth proposed law is perhaps the most weaksauce gun control measure ever — it would require criminal background checks for gun sales but not for gun transfers. Initially it included transfers as well, but Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) pushed to dilute it and succeeded, probably because of Granddad's Sacred Right to gift a gun to a 13-year-old. Heritage!
But despite the big ol' rally they're having here today, these laws are immensely popular with Virginians, and overwhelming majorities support each of these laws. Eighty-eight percent of Virginians — Democratic, Republican and independent — support background checks and 82 percent support red flag laws. Clear majorities support an assault weapons ban and the limit on gun purchases.
Let's take a look at who showed up!
Who is it that scares people again?
Looking at all of these rally-goers in their faux military ensembles, walking around with 85 rifles strapped to their bodies, their signs reading "Come and take it," the implicit "We we will full-on murder you if you do a single thing to make mass shootings even slightly harder to accomplish," I cannot help but think of how, in every goddamn debate this year, Elizabeth Warren was asked a question about how she will contend with the fact that she "scares" people. For the record, I have yet to see an actual person talk about being particularly "terrified" by Elizabeth Warren, but it's a narrative the pundits have latched onto nonetheless. Personally, I find "I want to give you health care" to be a far less "terrifying" proposal than "I will blow your head off if you won't let me stockpile assault rifles," but maybe that's just me.
Clearly, the Right is not terribly concerned about "scaring" us. It would be nice if we could take a look at these pictures, take a look at the right-wing media personalities and politicians cheering these people on and demanding they be normalized, and get that into our heads. It would be nice if we could look at how they are reacting to extremely moderate gun control laws that are supported by a huge majority of the people in this country, and accept that nothing we ever do, no matter how "pragmatic," is going to please them or make them like us. Perhaps, when we see people on the Right clutching their pearls and going "Oh no, all these scary radicals are going to frighten liberals" we can again begin worrying if Elizabeth Warren (or anyone else on our side) "frightens" Republicans — although I don't see that happening.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. In addition to her work at Wonkette, she also has a biweekly column at Dame. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse