Did Jesus Carry A Gun? That’s What Sarah Palin Would Like You To Believe.

Back in the 1980s, when the Republican Party discovered that it could build a base among Christian conservatives, the social niche issues were all about opposition to what they called ‘alternate’ life-styles; i.e., gays, feminists, pro-choice and the like.  Only a funny thing happened between Jerry Falwell and the SCOTUS decision known as Obergfell v. Hodges, namely, that all the worst excesses of secular progressivism and liberalism have, de facto or de jure, come true. Now let’s not get into an argument amongst ourselves as to whether everyone and everything really is equal in every sense of the word; when it comes to social issues that the Right can use to help sway election results, their victories have been few and far between.

palinBut in the run-up to 2016, the Right appears to have found a new issue, or at least an old issue that they are using for the first time, and the issue is guns. This doesn’t mean that Republicans ignored gun owners; various Republican Presidential wannabees always show up at the NRA convention to burnish their gun-loving credentials in front of the gun-owning crowd.  But these appearances are no different from requisite appearances that all politicians make in front of their traditional constituent groups: Democrats talk the civil rights talk before the NAACP and the UFT; Republicans greet the faithful in pilgrimages to Liberty University and the KofC.

Back in 2010 Rick Perry made headlines when he allegedly pulled a Ruger out of his jogging outfit and shot a coyote who was allegedly menacing his dog. This incident, in fact, was the beginning of the end of Perry’s political career, or at least a career that he hoped would land him in the upstairs apartment at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  Put simply, the attempt to create an image of himself as a latter-day Annie Oakley got himself dismissed as a buffoon.

I wonder how Perry feels this time around when the Republican Presidential race so far has centered not on lowering taxes or cutting the cost of government, but on the degree to which each candidate supports the 2nd Amendment and who among them is walking around armed.  This nonsense started with Trump following the Virginia shooting of two television journalists, but the notion of an armed citizenry has become the de rigueur Republican response to every issue involving safety and security, particularly in the wake of the Paris attacks and concerns that the ISIS-led rebellion in Syria may be getting out of hand.

The recent attempt by the NRA to market guns as a life-style is tailor-made for helping to boost the Republican brand.  Because the polls seem to indicate that Republican support gets weaker as one goes down the age pyramid, ditto interest in guns.  When Colion Noir dresses up hip and cool and prances around the NRA video channel with his AR-15, he’s trying to promote a ‘life-style’ that will appeal to the young and non-White demographics whose support the GOP desperately needs.  When Dana Loesch tells all those soccer Moms they should be carrying guns, she’s sending a similar message to another population group that, hopefully, will vote Red instead of Blue.

Into this newly-found Republican marketing scheme jumps none other than Sister Sarah Palin, who just released a book that unites faith, freedom and guns.  It’s a collection of devotional verses that can be read every day, and Sarah chose to hype it on her Facebook page by saying that Jesus would “fight” for the 2nd Amendment because otherwise only the ‘bad guys’ would have guns.

I feel sorry for Palin; she’s reminds me of a wannabe Anita Bryant who ended up trying to prevent gay marriage and now runs some kind of online ministry which sells the usual inspirational junk. If uniting guns and religion is how the Republicans believe they’ll expand their base, it just opens the door for the faith-based GVP groups to remind their followers about turning the other cheek.

 

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A Tale Of Two States: Vermont And Texas Debate Gun Bills.

There can’t be two states in these United States more different than Vermont and Texas, right?  The Green Mountain State is quintessential New England, with picturesque town squares, maple sap running from the trees and let’s not forget America’s only Socialist, aka Senator Bernie Sanders, who just might try to run for President in 2016. And what can we say about the Lone Star State?  Remember the Alamo, the best doggone chili and barbeque this side of the Pecos and the Rio Grande, and a former Governor named Rick Perry who might also try to run (again) for President in 2016.

  Sen. Bernie Sanders

Sen. Bernie Sanders

But despite the clear contrasts between these two states, in one way they are very similar, and the similarity was on display last week when the two State Legislatures held public hearings on new laws about guns.  In the case of Vermont, the bills being considered would have tightened gun regulations, bringing in background checks on private sales and setting standards for taking guns away from people at risk to others or themselves; in the case of Texas the bills will allow open carry of handguns and end the long-standing practice of considering college campuses to be gun-free zones.

        Gov. Rick Perry

Gov. Rick Perry

Two different states, two different types of gun bills, but one thing in common, namely, the degree to which the pro-gun community was organized, turned out in force and made arguments which, rightly or wrongly, shaped the public debate.  In Texas the push for open carry was led by an organization called Open Carry Texas which gained notoriety last year when its members publicly disavowed the NRA after the latter organization denounced gun-owning ‘extremists’ who were parading around with their guns.  Last week in the run-up to the legislative hearings on the new laws, a group of open carry agitators not only openly threatened a gun-owning state legislator in his office, but also showed up at the hearing and loudly denounced anyone who would commit ‘treason’ by  not voting the right way.

In Vermont, the debate over a gun bill occasioned the largest turnout at the State House since the debate over civil unions in 2000, and while supporters of the legislation cited personal anecdotes about a family shooting or the psychological damage caused by schoolchildren having to undergo active-shooter training, the prevailing sentiment during the debate was summed up by one female gun enthusiast who said, “If I’m being assaulted on a city street, I’d rather have my .38 with me than a copy of Senate bill 31.” Much of the credit for packing the gallery with orange-shirted gun owners should be given to Gun Owners of Vermont, which says it’s committed to a “no-compromise position against gun control” which is ironic since Vermont has no state-level restrictions on gun ownership or CCW at all.

This is not to say that folks who took a dim view of the proposed gun bills didn’t show up. There’s a group in Vermont  known as Gun Sense Vermont, whose members appeared at the hearing and voiced their concerns.  In Texas, the open carry gang got a little taste of their own tactics when a bodyguard hired by Moms Demand Action allegedly tried to stop Open Carry’s C.J. Grisholm, from filming an interview with a Moms activist by grabbing his phone.  This brief incident occasioned all kinds of heated rhetoric on right-wing blogs about how the Moms group (behind which, of course, is the sinister Watts-Bloomberg combine) has no respect for the 1st Amendment, never mind the beloved 2nd.

I don’t know who is going to win the legislative contest over gun laws in either state, but the pro-gun forces clearly won and continue to win the argument in the public, and certainly the internet space.  The plain truth is that fear-mongering sells, while reasonable and earnest debate gets little or no airtime at all. For that reason, the gun-sense community may need to re-think the manner in which they present their point of view.  In the public argument about guns, opinions seem to trump the facts every time.

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