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Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Dionne: How the GOP Became the NRA’s Gun-Worshipping Toadies

Some excerpts from E. J. Dionne, Jr.’s column, “Gun absolutists don’t trust democracy because they know they’re losing” at The Washington Post in response to the National Rifle Association convention in Indianapolis:

That the Republican Party is now wholly owned by the gun lobby was witnessed not only by the eagerness of Pence, Trump and former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson to pander in person at the gathering self-described as “14 acres of guns & gear.” Other would-be 2024 GOP nominees — among them, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley and Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.) — felt obligated to bow before the gun worshipers by video.

The nonsense floated in Indianapolis — based on the idea that our national addiction to high-powered weaponry has nothing to do with America’s unique mass shooting problem — speaks to a deep ailment in our democracy. It has both partisan and (perverse) philosophical roots.

Dionne argues that “The GOP’s conversion to gun absolutism is the heart of the problem. But politics doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It often follows from cultural and moral innovations.” He notes that the NRA became “engulfed by extreme ideologues” in 1977, and has since then taken America and the U.S. Supreme Court down “a dangerous new path.” Also,

For roughly four decades, American conservatism has identified firearms as a marker of a manly rejection of urban cosmopolitanism and gun ownership as a right more important than any other….It comes down to a variant of the old Maoist slogan: All liberty grows out of the barrel of a gun. When Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani told a White House rally before the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, “Let’s have trial by combat,” he was speaking for a sentiment that runs deep in the gun rights movement….

Undercutting the ability of voters to cast ballots is another habit of those who privilege the Second Amendment over all the others. As Politico’s Kathy Gilsinan reported, Tennessee’s election laws allow gun permits as voter IDs but not college student identifications. There is no waiting time to buy a gun, but citizens have to register at least 30 days before an election. “It is absolutely easier to get a gun than to vote in Tennessee,” Democratic state Sen. Charlane Oliver told Gilsinan…

The good news in this story is that radical opposition to sensible gun laws is not embedded in the American character. It’s the product of an ideology that overtook a less dogmatic form of conservatism and seized control of a political party.

In his conclusion, Dionne writes, “With Americans increasingly angry over mass shootings — the latest outrage came Saturday with the killing of four at a teen’s birthday party in Alabama — the era of gun absolutism could finally be over, if the popular will on guns is allowed to prevail. But this depends on defending the democracy that so many, at the Indianapolis gathering and in Tennessee, deeply mistrust.”

2 comments on “Dionne: How the GOP Became the NRA’s Gun-Worshipping Toadies

  1. pjcamp on

    It isn’t the fault of the NRA. It is their constituents. Congress members become gun nuts because that is what their voters want. Just look at Bernie Sanders, who voted against the Brady Bill because it slowed down gun purchases.


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