Saturday, August 27, 2011

"Progressive" folly over gun control

I've always been curious how American progressives got on the wrong -- anti-civil liberties -- side of gun control. In my mind this has been a grave strategic error. I have written elsewhere about the extreme difficulty liberals and progressives face in engaging the working class. I have also been highly critical of their tendency to get sucked into "lifestyle" campaigns (anti-smoking, anti-obesity, vegetarianism, etc.) etc., owing to the deep seated class antagonism this engenders in blue collar voters. Contrary to the stereotypes portrayed in the corporate media, class differences -- and class hatred -- are very real in the US. From a working class perspective, the progressive movement is the middle class. They're the teachers, social workers, psychologists, doctors, lawyers and religious leaders who play a fundamental role in setting behavioral standards for the rest of us. Thus when they tell us not to smoke, eat big Macs, or buy guns, we don't see this as political reform. We see it as an extension of their (privileged) class role.

For a progressive to take a stand against gun control is a pretty lonely place. There's a 1979 book edited by Don Kates entitled Restricting Handguns: The Liberal Skeptics Speak Out. There's also an organization called the Liberal Gun Club whose mission is to "provide a voice for gun-owing liberals and moderates in the national conversation on gun rights, gun legalization, firearms safety, and shooting sports."

Then there's Sam Smith's excellent article in the Progressive Review: Why "Progressives Should Stop Pushing for More Gun Control Laws." Among Smith's numerous arguments, three leap out at me: the exacerbation of "cultural conflict" between rural and urban and wealthy and not so well off, the tendency for gun restrictions and prohibition to be interwoven with the drive to restrict other civil liberties, and the need for progressives to stop treating average Americans as though they were "alien creatures." Smith also makes the point that progressives lose elections as much because of their attitudes as their issues.

In January (following Representative Gifford's shooting and renewed calls for gun control), Dan Baum wrote in the Huffington Post that progressives have wasted a generation of progress on health care, women's rights, immigration reform, income fairness and climate change because "we keep messing with people's guns." He feels it's helpful to think of gun control as akin to marijuana prohibition -- all it does is turn otherwise law-abiding people into criminals and create divisiveness and resentment.

More here

TX: Robbery thwarted by neighbor: "A 19-year-old man has been sentenced to 20 years in jail after he and a juvenile accomplish put a gun to the head of a 72-year-old man during an attempted driveway robbery. The defendant and a juvenile approached a 72-year-old man in his driveway at 5 a.m. As the juvenile held a gun to the victim’s head and demanded his wallet, Henson ransacked his pickup truck looking for valuables. The robbery was thwarted when a neighbor witnessed the crime from his bedroom window and came outside with his pistol – firing two shots in the air. Another neighbor, hearing the shots, came out brandishing a shotgun. The neighbors disarmed the juvenile and detained both suspects spread-eagled on the ground until Houston police arrived. The jury deliberated only 15 minutes before finding Henson guilty of aggravated robbery, said Strange."

TX: Dollar store manager uses gun to fight off robbery suspect: "Police arrested a suspect who attempted to rob a dollar store on Friday, but was scared away by the manager's gun. It happened at the Giant Dollar store in the 9400 block of North Freeway around 10:30 a.m. Police said the manager was on the phone at a register when he saw the masked suspect enter the store with a knife. “He tried to hit me like this,” said Joseph Wong. “I protect myself and keep bending, bending and he can not reach my chest over here.” Police said the suspect then took off, but as they chased him, he turned back. Wong pulled out a gun from behind the counter and fired a shot in the air. The suspect was not hit and fled the scene. He was later tracked down by a police dog and brought into custody."

Amazing: Colorado burglar's family awarded $300,000 in wrongful death suit: "An El Paso County jury on Friday awarded nearly $300,000 to the daughter of a burglar who was fatally shot in 2009 while breaking into an auto lot. Fox, 20, was shot after he and a friend scaled a fence to get inside Southwest Auto Sales at 2444 Platte Place in the city’s Knob Hill neighborhood. According to the accomplice, Brian Corbin, they had smoked methamphetamine and were looking to steal anything to buy more drugs. Corbin testified he saw two armed men charge out of a building and run in their direction, one of them shouting “we’re gonna get you” in an obscenity-laced threat. Corbin, who escaped by climbing over a car and jumping a fence, said he felt a bullet pass by him as someone fired four gunshots. Fox was standing inside a small shed when a .45-caliber rifle bullet passed through the shed’s door and pierced his heart. Police said in a 145-page investigative report that the intruder had knives in his pockets and one strapped to his ankle, but never posed a threat to Milanovic or the other men, his father Ljuban Milanovic and brother-in-law Srdjan Milanovic."

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