We can’t say if it’s a result of bombardment-style “mainstream” and social media or merely an instinct, but an automatic distrust of anything that smacks of conspiracy is a vital reflex for our work. Bluntly, it’s hard to keep alive, much less sharp, for several reasons.
First is the propensity of human beings to fill information vacuums with any grist that’s handy. Hearsay, quippy innuendo and bumper-sticker factoids are easy to come by—social media positively gushes with this drivel—but the mind must generally nurture such questionable seeds, too. That’s where things go more seriously awry: The chancier the initial data, the more likely it seems for batty notions to get filled out with fear, prejudice or good old-fashioned unreason. Tinfoil hats, as it were, tuned to very selective frequencies.
From there, it’s a short hop to cries of “conspiracy!” in any discernible patch of cultural shade, especially if progressive dogma is thwarted thereby. No actual darkness or obfuscation is required for hysteria to spread like a talking pet video. It’d be funny if the stakes weren’t so high. Sillier still is thin-skinned Lefty offense over the slightest suggestion they ever indulge in such shenanigans.
That’s also why it ought to matter to Carry Lifers. It’s increasingly difficult to tell the self-servingly dim from those who are an actual threat to the Second Amendment generally, and to self-defense specifically. This is the wheelhouse of the “fake news” on firearms issues, by the way. But it’s also here that our conspiracy skepticism reflex can do harm: Carefully scripted malarkey may fall short of actual smoke-filled, back-room plotting, but it has every other attribute of the real capital “C” article—generally predatory; always elitist; and dreadfully, painfully, often bloodily difficult to undo.
Happily (for today’s column) but perversely (for our nation), here are some present examples. Get educated about them if you possibly can.
Repeated Attacks On “Stand Your Ground” Laws
The “usual suspects” have targeted these with unusual fury, especially since the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman, er, fiasco. Their mantra is gratingly consistent: “Stand Your Ground” laws sanction murder under the guise of self-defense. The tinfoil hat business starts right there: SYG played no part at all in Zimmerman’s defense and acquittal.
Whatever the mechanics, the contention that SYG sanctions murder is preposterously untrue. As our own Mark Chesnut explained: “… ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws simply state that a person fearing for his or her life has no obligation to run away and be a victim. Under these types of laws, a person has the right to defend his or her life in a place he or she is legally allowed to be. They are not a license to kill. And they don’t ‘open seasons’ on anybody.” Instead, these laws prudently short-circuit the notion that there is a duty to give ground before defending yourself.
Instead, these laws prudently short-circuit the notion that there is a duty to give ground before defending yourself—as did the U.S. Supreme Court in Brown v. United States.
We’ve discussed in some detail why such an implied responsibility is demonstrably dangerous, but this is where we do start to smell conspiracy, or at least conspiratorial stupidity. Only willed denial and deeply impoverished imaginations can fail to see how a huge majority of Americans—those not mostly young and mostly male—cannot effectively flee in the minuscule timeframes of an actual assault. Such wishful thinking is hardly surprising given that these folks have no “skin” in your game. Even if you have the training and wherewithal, you’re incredibly unlikely to have time for both flight and defense. Any other contention is moonshine.
Repeated Co-opting Or Outright Abuse Of Language
The most absurd (but still destructive) examples are also the most prevalent—“common-sense gun laws” and “gun violence.” If the propagation of these false flag operations isn’t a media conspiracy, it’s hard to know what could be.
The first is code for one thing, and one thing only: Compiling a list of gun owners (through background checks) and eventually confiscating many 19th-century and virtually all 20th- or 21st-century firearms when some new, wicked, Pulse-like tragedy occurs. (That’s what the Brits did after Dunblane, and the Aussies after Port Arthur.)
“Common,” in progressive propaganda-speak, then, refers to what is common thought among well-intentioned but uninformed folks, or among rabid gun-haters. (There’s a test here, amusing if unkindly provocative: Suggest that similar scrutiny target access to recreational drugs or, say, abortion. But stand back—fireworks will ensue.) The point is this: This is not remotely “common” in the sense of being agreed, nor even that widely held. It is, however, uncommonly ignorant.
The term “gun violence” really gives conspiracy notions a kick forward, if only because it’s so obviously and consistently a bait-and-switch contrivance. This whopper is designed to conflate virtually any firearm mischance with every other, and render the problem numerically worse.
Proof is easy to find in the assembly of the “30,000 gun deaths” (or more) number so universally bandied. Nor is any fine print offered in explanation. That these include suicides (the huge majority), criminal homicides (often against other criminals), justifiable civilian and law enforcement uses, and accidents is almost never explained. Again, there’s a test here. By this tortured yardstick, you’re the victim of an “edged weapon attack” if you cut yourself shaving, or of dihydrogen monoxide violence if you drown in your own hot tub. Only one class of these events is “violent” in a remotely conventional sense. It is in the sense of being “sudden” that the others are dishonestly included, and the ponderous hint of “violence” as reflexive simply injected by those who detest a natural right of self-defense for the great unwashed. You and we, in other words. “Common,” in progressive propaganda-speak, then, refers to what is common thought among well-intentioned but uninformed folks, or among rabid gun-haters.
Don’t uncharitably miss our point: Of course we should be trying to reduce the causes of premature and violent death by any and every means, but this is an entirely different problem than rendering every man, women and child in America defenseless against demonstrably real threats. There are a bunch of people out there—sadly—who simply will not play by civil rules: They want what they want ‘cause they want it. You may choose to take your chances with appeasement—or, on a long time scale and with a highly suspect effectiveness, social engineering—but compelling your neighbor to mimic that choice is fundamentally, deeply immoral. Which of your own life-and-death choices, after all, are you willing to cede to your neighbor?
Progressives Are On The Comeback
Jon Ossoff’s near-win in Georgia should worry you, but not for the reasons the media is bleating. The contention that he’s the first in an anti-President Trump wave poised to sweep the land is meant to motivate disheartened liberals, and to some extent worked.
But Ossoff ran against 17 other candidates: If he gets all the “loose” votes that appear to be available (from four other Democrats and both Independents now out of the race), he crests 49 percent, barely.
Then there’s the fact that it took more than $8 million in outside money to get him this far. And the perhaps-even-more-damning fact that he has offered no Second Amendment opinion that we could readily find. It seems unlikely either of these cards will play well in Georgia with the distractions removed.
Want to do something tangible about it? Take a look here.
Gun Ownership Makes You A Bad Person
If there’s one example that makes the “conspiracy” case, it ought to be this one. Mainly, it’s because someone has gotten away with implying it over and over again, and saying it outright—“It is caring Americans versus the gun lobby …”—at least once.
Astro-Turfer (grassroots mom-organizer, our foot!) Shannon Watts has made a noisy, noxious career of this while floating down a lazy river of Michael Bloomberg’s cash. She is hardly alone.
But media complicity in such tripe is what gets our conspiracy antennae twitching: The simplest math shows that waaaaaay over 99.9 of gun owners never harm anyone with their firearms (whether a musket or so-called “assault rifle”). Yet even a lie as bald-faced as Watts’ goes routinely unexamined, to say nothing of unchallenged.
Conspiracy defined? Maybe. Shannon Watts has made a noisy, noxious career … while floating down a lazy river of Michael Bloomberg’s cash.
Antipathy To Suppressors
We’ve readily conceded that this is a pet peeve. But if you look back over 30-plus years of anti-gun legislation, there’s a weird undercurrent—a dirty-secret sort of taboo, if you will. We’re “outing” it right now: Ever notice how the more “fun” or “interesting” a firearm (or accessory) is, the more likely it is to find itself on a ban list?
Progressives manufacture squealing-adolescent attacks by the truckload based on (admittedly terrible) statistical outliers, but somewhere, there is a knowledgeable gun-hater with fine taste doing ugly work: “That _________ is too much fun; it’ll bring new shooters out, so we gotta ban it.”
What else could explain the acrimony heaped on lowly rimfire, all the way back to the “assault weapon” ban days of the early 1990s? Only an idiot could compare the Ruger 10-22 to an AK under the stated goals of that ban, yet both were tarred with the same broad brush.
The careful reader may observe, “Yes, but both were semi-autos, and they wanted to kill all those.” And we’d agree, but the point remains—somewhere, some rat made that connection for the Dianne Feinsteins of the world. Their oft-demonstrated ignorance makes any other conclusion insupportable. In its comparative subtlety, we argue it smells of the single-minded coherence of the big “C.”Gun-haters don’t want anything that will make shooting more commodious either to present non-shooters or to “neighbors” of shooting facilities.
We think the virulent antipathy to easing suppressor ownership has similar hallmarks. If shooting gets quieter and less abrupt, more people may try it, and discover it isn’t any sort of trip to psychopathy, short or long. (We have a relative who has shot with us several times over the years, but no hearing protection is sufficient to suppress his “startle” reflex. He bravely comes along, but never enjoys it.)
Then, there’s the fallacy that firearms will get Hollywood-quiet and thereby vastly more useful to criminals. This is propped up by wink-and-nod complicity, if not actual conspiracy: Virtually all suppressors add cost, weight, length and complexity to shooting, even without considering the specialized ammunition they often require to work at all.
Connecting the dots is no great intellectual feat: Gun-haters don’t want anything that will make shooting more commodious either to present non-shooters or to “neighbors” of shooting facilities. Like the poor little .22 (or other rimfire) in the ban days, we posit either as a powerful motivation in keeping suppressors difficult to obtain. If your hearing is on the chopping block as consequence, they’re fine with that. Such nice folks—not.
As for conspiracy, we’ll let you decide. In the interim, mind the tin—er, aluminum—foil, and Carry on.
Frank Winn has been studying arms and their relationship to tyranny, meaningful liberty and personal security all his adult life. He has been a firearms safety/shooting instructor for more than 20 years, and earned state, regional and national titles in several competitive disciplines.