Yesterday I engaged in a rather heated debate about guns with a very Republican friend of mine. As a supporter of Donald Trump (shocker, I know), and lifelong conservative, I usually do my best to avoid political debates with my friends and family that fall into these categories because I know, typically, it’s not going to do me any good.
However, this particular friend seemed to be trying to “pick a fight,” so to speak, for whatever reason. I have a feeling a recent anti-Trump article I posted likely riled him up a bit, so he felt like confronting me.
While the initial part of the conversation centered around Trump, unexpectedly, the main focal point of the debate ended up being centered around guns and the Second Amendment. My friend being a huge pro-gun person — open carry and all — we’ve clashed before over the true purpose of the Second Amendment and gun regulations.
Well, this time around, instead of pointing out how incredibly stupid open carry is, I decided to focus on the blatant racism that surrounds pro-gun propaganda.
Sure, technically it’s true that every American citizen is given the right to “keep and bear arms” by way of our Second Amendment. However, it’s completely disingenuous for anyone to deny that, when it comes to that right, there’s a lot of racism tied into the “exercising of that right.”
That’s the main point I emphasized to my friend during our discussion.
Of course, if I look around the Internet, I can find plenty of examples and photographs where minority pro-gun advocates are openly carrying their guns. However, those exceptions to the rule don’t negate the rule. If you ever study statistics, in particular surveys and polling, one thing you learn very quickly is that “outliers” should almost always be eliminated when making your calculation. And it’s undeniable that when it comes to pro-gun fanatics, especially those most passionate about openly carrying guns, those folks tend to be white.
One of the main talking points gun fanatics like to push is that guns somehow make us safer. Not only that, but openly carrying firearms adds to that by “letting the bad guys know we’re armed.”
On numerous occasions I’ve had open carry advocates mock the idea that people might be fearful of a group of people marching around with loaded military-style assault weapons strapped to backs. Usually I get a response that goes something like, “My Constitutional rights matter more than your feelings.”
Okay, fair enough.
But that’s where the racism comes in with all of this.
Ironically, many of these same hardcore gun fanatics, especially those who enthusiastically support open carry, are also staunch conservatives, many of whom are Trump supporters. You know, folks who support the candidate who inspired white nationalists all over the country for running a campaign that was largely based around vilifying minorities — in particular, Mexicans and Muslims.
Something tells me, as pro-gun as many of these particular individuals claim to be, if a group of, say, 50 African Americans, Latinos, or Muslims decided to strap a few AK-47s to their backs and go marching through the stereotypical mostly-white rural/conservative neighborhood, that most of these folks wouldn’t suddenly feel “safer” because they were armed and proudly “exercising their Second Amendment rights.
I can promise you, all hell would break loose.
But — why?
If American citizens openly carrying guns makes people safer, then why would there be any reason for these pro-gun folks to be concerned with 50 American Muslims walking around the streets of your average mostly white, conservative town carrying AK-47 “long rifles”?
Oh, that’s right, because the truth of the matter is, for most of these pro-gun conservatives, their enthusiasm for giving Americans the right to own and carry weapons tends to stop once the color of a person’s skin gets too brown or their religion isn’t “Christian enough.”
I tried to make this point to my friend who, despite doing his best to not admit I was right, never once truly said I was wrong, either. Like most conservatives confronted with the truth, he danced around the issue, often trying to deflect using the usual talking points you’ll hear parroted by most gun nuts.
Eventually after pressing him for an answer as to whether or not your typical rural/southern white conservative would feel more or less safe with 50 African American, Latinos, or Muslims strolling through the streets of their town or neighborhood strapped with military-style assault rifles, he went silent, then said he had to go and we’d “pick up this debate later.”
Let me go ahead and make the prediction that we will never continue our discussion.
But this is what I frequently run into whenever I present rational, fact-based arguments to conservatives who rely mostly on talking points they’ve heard other people say or propaganda they think sounds good, but they’ve never truly thought about. They usually get defensive, deflect away from the points you’re trying to make, or flat-out refuse to even address anything you’re trying to get them to answer until they retreat away back to their “safe zone.”
It’s really just proof that deep down, they know they’re wrong — they simply don’t want to admit it.
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