Now that President Trump has decided to become a Democrat, you can’t tell me that the boys in Fairfax ever imagined they would fork over $30 million in television advertising to help elect a guy who then would turn right around and cut deals with ‘Chuck’ and ‘Nancy,’ two Democrats who have to rank at the very top of the list of politicians who are anti-gun..
On the other hand, you might want to stop shedding tears for the NRA and consider instead what Trump’s political pivot means to the other side. Because as long as the gun violence prevention (GVP) community has an unregenerate racist, fascist, white supremacist and all-around apostle of gun ownership sitting in the Oval Office they can always rally the troops around the idea that the worst is yet to come.
And the worst might be the pictures from Charlottesville of a rag-tag bunch walking down the main street, displaying Nazi banners, yelling anti-Semitic slurs and, of course, carrying guns. So now, thanks to the stupid Dana Loesch videos designed to appeal to the most infantile mentalities among us, we have a new narrative for GVP opinion-makers, namely, that guns promote not just gun violence, but the most extreme political views imaginable, in particular the agenda of the neo-Nazi gang.
The latest version of this cockamamie idea was a kerfuffle that broke out in a Westchester County suburb of New York City, where a gun show held in January featured some tables with Nazi ‘memorabilia,’ including copies of Mein Kampf, some flags, uniforms and probably some allegedly ‘original’ helmets and knives. Another stink was raised when residents of Saratoga Springs learned that the annual gun show in their town was going to feature an exhibit of what is claimed to be Adolph Hitler’s desk. The offensive exhibit was most upsetting to members of the Jewish synagogue, Temple Sinai, who helped organize a pro-immigration rally in Saratoga on August 24th.
To bolster the idea that gun shows are a particularly fruitful venue for recruiting membership in neo-Nazi and alt-right/white groups, the promoters of this narrative invariably turn to the research of Garen Wintemute, who claims to have visited 78 gun shows in 19 states mostly between 2005 and 2008. Regarding the presence of far-right materials and products, Wintemute found a ‘high prevalence” of neo-Nazi materials at gun shows, but he also found that ”most vendors at general-purpose gun shows do not sell guns. Ammunition, parts and accessories, ammunition magazines, body armor, knives, and books on related topics are routinely on display.”
Tying gun shows to Trump campaign rhetoric which inflamed the most unregenerate DF’s among us to crawl out from underneath their rocks may be a good way to stir the passions of the gun violence prevention crowd, but it flies in the face of what guns shows are all about. I went to the Saratoga show back in the 1990s and Nazi, Japanese and American military memorabilia was all over the place. One vendor with a Nazi exhibit this year? Back then you would find twenty vendors selling all kinds of Nazi crap like helmets, bayonets, uniforms, books and flags because there were still a lot of WWII vets around and many of them liked guns.
Time marches on, the old army veterans are almost all gone, but how come the good folks from Temple Sinai never complained when vendors selling Nazi crap were all over the place in previous years? The truth is that the Mount Sinai congregants form their views about Gun-nut Nation based on narratives produced by the GVP, and in this case those narratives are simply wrong. Jewish and other Saratoga residents never cared about whether there was a gun show in their town. What they now care about, and for good reason, is an upsurge in anti-Semitism which Trump has fostered since he emerged on the national political scene. And that’s a much different issue than being worried about guns.