Liberals, Killers and Gun Fetishes
My 1980 print edition of the Oxford American Dictionary defines “fetish” as an object worshiped by primitive peoples who believe it to have magical powers. When it comes to guns, this definition clearly defines liberal gun control advocates, not America’s tens of millions of lawful gun owners, or even the large but smaller population of gun collectors and enthusiasts.
Nonetheless, I was not shocked to read this article in the Daily Beast, which threw the F-word repeatedly at “gun nuts” who refuse to see the recent killings in Santa Barbara California as anything but confirmation that the 2nd Amendment is destroying America. Ironically, at the time I read the article, I already had in mind writing a piece about how many recent spree killers appeared to have a strong fetish for certain firearms. But such fetishes arose not due to America’s “gun culture” but because of the deliberate actions of left-liberal fetish experts in Hollywood and Silicon Valley.
I like guns and collect them, as do many other normal, productive, loving, caring people. Hell, I even support some ideas that a Daily Beast columnist might appreciate. But even if I didn’t have a liberal bone in my body, that doesn’t make me a gun fetishist. In fact, the country’s gun culture, precisely by demystifying firearms, discourages the depredations of killers like Santa Barbara madman.
America’s “gun culture” is just American culture. It is part and parcel the culture that produced this great nation, which the founders of the country saw important enough to protect, along with our other societal freedoms, in the Bill of Rights. American culture doesn’t produce killers, but perversions of American culture do.
For a collector, shooting enthusiast, hunter, or homeowner seeking protection, a gun might be an item of aesthetic or financial value, a tool, a precision instrument, or all of the above. It is not an item of worship, or something that its owners invest with magical powers. Nor do America’s gun owners fear these objects, any more than they would fear their own cars, boats, or power drills.
But ask a liberal gun control advocate about guns, and you are likely to get a stream of invective, followed by incantations of the evil things guns do and a lot of irrational fear. Leftist propaganda invests guns with inchoate evils, magic and death dealing powers. It makes for just plain stupid laws, like those (in my home state Maryland) that ban such terrifying firearm accessories like flash hiders and pistol grips -- not because they make the guns more or less dangerous, but because they look scary. This is the realm of fetish, something that does not exist in the field hunting or at the shooting range.
The other part of the fetish equation is the often absurd glorification of guns found in film, television, and video games, areas dominated by financers, producers, directors, actors, and designers of liberal bent. Actors shoot guns while falling through the air, swinging on ropes, or like the Santa Barbara killer, speeding down the road in high performance cars. Hollywood guns rarely run out of ammo (the Santa Barbara killer had 40 magazines for his three pistols, but fortunately they did not magically migrate into the weapons.) Video games are worse. Not only do the guns go on and on, killing hundreds or thousands of realistically rendered digital victims, but so do the shooters, surviving multiple gunshot wounds and even when finally expiring, always coming back. To make sure he killed himself (and I guess not regenerate) the Santa Barbara killer believed he needed two pistols with which he intended to shoot himself in the head simultaneously.
Partner the left’s fear-mongering about guns, with their glorification of the same weapons in entertainments popular with young men, and especially mentally troubled young men, and you have the recipe for repeated disasters. It’s likely no accident that the killers in Santa Barbara, Aurora, Newtown, and Virginia Tech all used Glock pistols, which are television and movie favorites. The Santa Barbara killer also bought Sig-Sauer pistols, a more expensive “Hollywood popular” pistol, which in his manifesto he absurdly describes as “more efficient” than a Glock, the kind of gun-stupid line a movie character might utter.
Glocks and Sigs are fine pistols, but like a lot of fellow gun owners, collectors and enthusiasts, I don’t own any. Like a person who chooses to buy any tool or implement -- ignoring its scary magic -- I balanced price, performance, availability, and a couple other boring pedestrian factors, and decided I could live with a Ruger instead of a Glock. Some people decide otherwise for many other good reasons, but it is highly unlikely that all of these killers got Glocks because they ran through the same mental calculations. Rather, they appear to have seen the pistols as a kind of talisman to help them do their evil deeds, a fetishistic prop, made that way by the very people who would throw the F-word at all gun owners.
Although there have always been shootings and killings in America, as in any country, and probably always will be, these kinds of killings, involving disturbed, violence-obsessed young men, did not occur as frequently when a normalized gun culture dominated this country. Many people of middle age can recall when fellow high school students drove to school with guns hanging from the racks of their trucks, or schools had shooting teams. Amid all that firepower, violence was rare.
In recent decades, politicians and media personalities, stoking fear among the public and nurturing the idea that inanimate objects themselves are strange and malevolent, have helped produce a class of disturbed killers, who see guns as a way to gratify other deep psychological needs -- the very definition of a fetish.
You don’t have to be a psychiatrist to see that one of the best ways to attract a disturbed obsessive violent individual to an object is to glorify it, and then tell that person that they should not have it, that nobody should have it, because it is too dangerous and too powerful. Homicidal, gun-toting maniacs have emerged because America’s culture, including its gun culture, is in decline, not because it is prospering. And as that culture is ruined, it is being replaced by a something much uglier and more dangerous.