If and when Gun-control Nation decides to give out an award to the person who has done more to elevate the national discussion about gun violence, I suspect the winner will be David Hogg. Ever since the Parkland massacre, this 18-year old has been roaming around the United States, appearing on an almost a daily basis at some kind of gun-control event. Occasionally he shows his youth and lack of smarts when, for example, he urged a gathering of Canadians to come across the border and vote for ‘gun-sense’ candidates next month. But by and large, he has captivated audiences with a combination of determined and well-spoken messages about the violence caused by guns.
The only drawback with David’s activities, however, and this is in no way a criticism of anything he has said or done, is that most of his efforts have been spent preaching to the converted, so to speak, whereas it’s the ‘other side,’ the pro-gun folks, who need to hear what he has to say. Which is why it might come as something of a surprise to my Gun-control Nation friends to learn that Gun-nut Nation also has a new poster-boy promoting their point of view, and in this case, he’s yet another Parkland survivor, Kyle Kashuv, who has been appearing at various pro-gun events and even met Sleazy Don during a visit to Washington, D.C.
Back in April, Kashuv gave an interview to the news website Vox, in which he claimed to have never actually touched a gun. The same week he posted a picture of himself on his Twitter page standing at a shooting range holding an AR-15. He was later interrogated by the local cops because school officials at Parkland decided that any school student who promoted using an assault rifle might be considered a threat. The contact with the cops got Kashuv an appearance on the Tucker Carlson nightly show, at which point he became the equivalent of David Hogg for the pro-gun side.
I’m not at all surprised that Gun-nut Nation has developed an alternate reality to explain what happened at Parkland earlier this year. I’m also not surprised that just as David Hogg has become a formidable brand name for media that markets to the gun-control crowd, so Kyle Yashuv has been equally promoted and adored by media which chases the market known as gun ‘rights.’
I started following the ins and outs of the gun debate in 1968 because that’s when the federal government got into gun control big time, which meant that the gun business would be increasingly conditioned on what advocates from both sides had to say about guns. And what I noticed, right from the beginning, was that the media never reported on any gun issue without making sure they had input from ‘both sides.’ And this obsession with making sure that we have ‘balance’ in the gun debate has, if anything, become even more intense as the demand for digital content inexorably grows.
Recall that after the Pulse massacre in 2016, the gay community got more involved in gun-control activities and some of their efforts were circulated through the national print and digital press. Know what also happened after Orlando? The gay-rights groups which promote self-defense guns also got into the media act. And don’t underestimate the appeal of self-defense guns to LGBTQ – as the reporter who wrote a glowing article about gays and guns in Rolling Stone said, “gay rights and gun rights are a natural fit.”
I personally think that identity politics and responses to gun violence are a load of crap. And I further think that it’s just another attempt by self-promoting internet news and product hucksters to enlarge their marketing niche.
The truth is that I don’t care who you are – your age, gender, sexual orientation or a anything else. In the words of Walter Mosely, “If you walk around with a gun, sooner or later it’s going to go off.”