Is the Plague of Guns a Racist Fever Dream for “Restored” White Male Supremacy?
And even if there is no war, our children are now paying the price for the GOP’s embrace of this hate and bigotry — and the guns that go with it — every single day
According to a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 21% of Americans have been threatened with a gun, 19% tell researchers a family member was killed by a gun, and 17% say they’ve seen someone shot in front of them. Fully 54 percent of Americans or members of their family have had one of these experiences.
Eighty-four percent of Americans consider how to avoid getting shot when they go out in public.
Why would Republican members of Congress remove the flag pins from their lapels and replace them with little metal pins of AR-15 mass slaughter machines designed for modern warfare?
CNN reporter Bill Weir said the quiet part out loud this week.
When asked by anchor Kaitlan Collins why Texas Governor Greg Abbott was going to pardon a man who murdered a Black Lives Matter protester in cold blood, Weir said:
“You go back to, there was a guy named Harlon Carter, who was living on the border in Texas back in the 50s. There was some racial tension with Mexicans nearby, he ended up murdering a 15-year-old boy with a shotgun, was convicted of murder, but then released from jail two years early because the judge didn’t explain to the jury the proper definition of self-defense.
“At that time, Harlon Carter went on to be the head of the NRA. At the time, they pivoted from a club that was for marksmanship into a political wing that gave their first endorsement after 100 years to Ronald Reagan in 1980. Now, that’s 180 million guns ago in this country. The political force of that decision — who took the NRA in a place to fortify for a race war instead of a civic gun safety organization — was a key moment in history.”
And he’s right. Our children are dying in our schools and streets so a small minority of white mostly male Americans can prepare for what they hope will be an all-out race war.
Over at The Daily Stormer, before the site moved to less visible venues after being de-platformed by its hosts, America’s actual Nazis vigorously encourage their members to join the NRA because it’s preparing America for a war against Blacks and Jews (who Nazis call “European-style Socialists,” a common and well-known code phrase among antisemites).
Five years ago last month the Stormer’s founder, Andrew Anglin, wrote:
“The NRA is the country’s premiere pro-white and anti-Semitic organization. In fact, it is the only right-wing group of any kind in this country to have any success at all in the last 50 years.”
The article goes on to proclaim:
“The white race in the United States has lost on: Racial integration, Feminism, Homosexuality, Abortion, Prayer in schools, Pornography, [and] Immigration” but has won on “a single issue: guns.”
“And that winning is due almost exclusive to the National Rifle Association, a pro-white and anti-Jewish organization intent on protecting our GUNS from the gun-grabbing kikes… It’s time to put your money where your mouth is and join up with the country’s single effective pro-white organization intent on fully SMASHING THE JEW.”
Echoing Anglin’s commentary, Wayne LaPierre gave a speech a few months later laying out the NRA’s vision of America.
“President Trump’s election,” he said, “while crucial, can’t turn away the wave of these new, European-style Socialists bearing down upon us.”
He then ticked off a list of Jews he saw as enemies of America, including Bernie Sanders, George Soros, Tom Steyer, Michael Bloomberg, and Chuck Schumer. He did not name a single Christian or person of any other religion.
“History proves it,” LaPierre said to cheers from the crowd. “Every time, in every nation in which this political disease rises to power, its citizens are repressed, their freedoms are destroyed, and their firearms are banned and confiscated. It is all backed in this country by the social engineering and the billions [from] people like George Soros, Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer, and more.”
Over on Fox “News,” frozen-food heir Tucker Carlson is busy echoing Anglin and LaPierre, warning his white supremacist viewers that there’s a “Great Replacement” being engineered in America by shadowy forces manipulating Black and Brown people to replace white people at work and in society.
Christian nationalists show up to try to intimidate the people they believe are being empowered, funded, or directed by “European-style socialists,” ranging from drag queens to Black people to trans children to “liberal teachers” and their school boards.
They fetishize their guns as the tools that will one day cleanse and “purify” America, per their guidebooks Camp of the Saints and The Turner Diaries.
A Facebook member posted an old quote from Herbert W. Armstrong — founder of The Worldwide Church of God — that said, “Race war is coming! … It will be whipped into an accelerating crescendo until human blood runs like rivers.”
Seeing the comment, NRA board member Ted Nugent replied:
“Yeah no shit. blacks slaughtering blacks at an unprecedented rate. Blacks killed more blacks this week than the KKK has in 50yrs.”
He posted that an hour after declaring former President Obama wanted a “racewar,” saying “Obama will go down in history as a maniac America hating freak…”
At that time, Armstrong was a major spokesman and inspiration for the white Christian nationalist movement — and continues to be revered even in his death.
He was the guy who spent most of his life proclaiming that integration was a violation of the Bible’s demand for racial purity. He preached:
“God separated or segregated the races and national groups about a century after the flood (Deut. 32:8), but the people did not agree with God. They rebelled by building the tower of Babel (Gen. 11). Here was man’s first recorded attempt this side of the flood to cross racial bounds and form one world. God had to intervene and scatter the nations.”
For decades the haters pushing white Americans to buy more and more weapons of war dressed themselves in respectable rhetorical garb, talking about “freedom” and “liberty.” But at its core, the absolutist pro-gun arm-America crusade is inextricably intertwined with a Christian nationalist white supremacist movement that believes white men are destined to rid America of what they call “mud races” and “deviants.”
The NRA’s turn from being a benign sportsman’s organization to arguing the necessity of a heavily armed white civilian population began, as Weir pointed out, when Harlon Carter took over the organization in 1977.
Ever since then, leaders of the NRA and their allies have been promoting faintly coded rhetoric that leans heavily on demonizing and threatening the lives of Jewish Democrats, racial minorities, and queer people.
While this is happening, pretty much right out in the open, most Americans think Republican politicians who refuse to do anything about the slaughter of our children are simply motivated by campaign contributions from gun manufacturers.
In fact, they’re still animated by Harlon Carter’s hatred of “colored” people, Jews, and the queer community.
Carter’s racism led him to kill two non-white people in his life (that we know about). The 15-year-old Hispanic teenager Weir noted who Carter killed in 1931 at close range with a shotgun for talking back to him has been widely reported, but less well known is that, according to the FBI, he also killed a 19-year-old Native American boy named Luther Curly by hitting him with his car in 1970.
As the head of the Border Patrol, Carter ran the notorious “Operation Wetback” in 1954, referring to it as “biggest drive against illegal aliens in history.”
He told The Los Angeles Times:
“An army of Border Patrol officers complete with jeeps, trucks, and seven aircraft” are waging “all-out war to hurl… Mexican wetbacks back into Mexico.”
As Donald Trump pointed out in 2015, praising that openly racist effort by the Eisenhower administration, Carter and his men enthusiastically apprehended and deported more than a million Latin American farm workers. His slogan may as well have been: “Make America White Again.”
And Carter wasn’t the only murderer in the top ranks of the NRA. Robert J. Dowlut, the NRA’s general counsel who was hired the same year as LaPierre, had spent six years in prison for murdering his girlfriend’s mother in 1963, after also robbing and shooting a pawn shop owner. It wasn’t until 2014 that his crimes became known to the public.
“Tough on criminals” is not a meaningful slogan for the NRA.
The constant whining about “crime in America” that we’re hearing this week from, for example, Jim Jordan — who says he’s going to New York to expose Black DA Alvin Bragg’s “crime ridden city” — is more rhetorical misdirection. Crime is way down in New York City: it’s not even in the top 65 cities in America for homicides, for example.
What they’re really saying is, “Look at all those Black and Brown people and the ‘European-style Socialist’ Jews who are helping them out!”
As Wayne LaPierre wrote for Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller in 2013:
“After Hurricane Sandy, we saw the hellish world that the gun prohibitionists see as their utopia. Looters ran wild in south Brooklyn. There was no food, water or electricity. And if you wanted to walk several miles to get supplies, you better get back before dark, or you might not get home at all.
“Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Riots. Terrorists. Gangs. Lone criminals. These are perils we are sure to face—not just maybe. It’s not paranoia to buy a gun. It’s survival. It’s responsible behavior, and it’s time we encourage law-abiding Americans to do just that.
“The hard truth is that due to Bloomberg, Soros, and the rest of their ilk, the dangers require that we increase our presence all across the country—in Congress, the state capitols, and in your city and towns.”
It’s really all about race, religion, gender, and power, and a group of people willing to kill others to restore what they see as America’s rightful racial and gender hierarchies.
It’s as simple as that.
As Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz told the Boston Review in 2021:
“I think what the NRA—and Carter specifically—did was to simply revive something that had waned, because it was for a moment no longer needed.
“Slave patrols were not needed. The KKK wasn’t needed, because the Jim Crow state had taken on that role of racial enforcer.
“But as that began to break down with civil rights, Carter handed to the descendants of the white settler population this tool for their empowerment, the new NRA.”
When Marjorie Taylor Greene talks about a “national divorce,” or Sharon Angle and Donald Trump warn of “Second Amendment solutions” to Democrats winning elections, or Greg Abbott says he’s going to pardon a man who murdered a BLM protester, or Ron DeSantis parades Black men in shackles in front of the cameras for “illegally voting,” they’re all saying the same thing.
They’re proclaiming that their version of America is the America of the 1930s, when white men ran the country, women were men’s playthings, gays and lesbians were in the closet, Jews kept their heads’ down (in the face of the antisemitic wave of 1931, my grandfather added a second “n” to my father’s birth certificate so he wouldn’t be taken for Jewish), and racial minorities “knew their place.”
In the 40 years since the beginning of the Reagan Revolution — one kicked off by Reagan proclaiming “states’ rights” in Philadelphia, Mississippi where 3 civil rights workers were brutally murdered — America has gone from having around 30 guns for every 100 people (like Canada today) to over 120 guns for every 100 people today.
And they’re not evenly distributed across the country: Red states have a much higher gun death rate than Blue states, almost without exception, because they have far more guns per person.
Massachusetts, for example, has only seen 2 children die in school shootings in decades because of their strong gun laws. Nations like Canada and most of Europe, where guns are available but well-regulated, have only a tiny fraction of the gun deaths and injuries we experience here in America.
But America being flooded with guns isn’t an accident and it’s not just because the gun industry wants to increase their revenues.
As is so often the case in this country, tragically, our plague of guns results from the racist fever dreams of white supremacists willing to kill to achieve a “restored” America.
Which is also why these same white supremacist Republicans insist on leaving semiautomatic and assault weapons-of-war in the hands of America’s civilians. They are, after all, asking armed white men to join up, to prepare to kill their fellow Americans in a real civil war.
And even if there is no war, our children are now paying the price for the GOP’s embrace of this hate and bigotry — and the guns that go with it — every single day.
One correction to Bill Weir's account. Harlon Carter, who led the NRA takeover and turned it into an authoritarian group, was 17 years old and committed the stabbing of the Mexican American teen in the 1930s. Carter was a native of Burleson, Texas, and his father had taken a job with the agency then known as Immigration and Naturalization Services and moved his family closer to the border with Mexico. Carter was convicted of the murder, and his conviction was reversed on the sort of technical issue hardliners love to deplore if it happens to someone else. Carter then changed his name to Harlan Carter to disassociate himself from his previous crime. The irony is that if Carter's conviction had been upheld, he never would have been able to own firearms and join the NRA, let alone convert it into a political and lobbying group for gun manufacturers.
It's been apparent to me for a long time living in a 70% Maga world that the answer is yes. Guns and large pickups are the way white men "protect" themselves from others and show us how "powerful" they are.