If You Like Your Weapon, You Can Keep Your Weapon
“If You Like Your Weapon, You Can Keep Your Weapon”:
How Did Gun Control Become a “Pro-Life” Issue?
Everyone who was paying attention must have seen President Obama’s stumbling, stuttering presentation at Elkhart, Indiana, on June 1st. The news Obama was trying to scrape out of his appearance was that his policies had done wonders to improve the economy. The White House’s own web site forcefully adhered to that fiction — and who can blame its operators? Spin is the only thing that makes their world go around.
The actual news — which made it to a lot of screens despite mass media attempts to edit reality out of existence — was that, without his teleprompter, Obama turns into a tongue-tied, incoherent babbler. Many people might conclude once again that Obama’s reputation as a leading intellectual is based on a relentlessly-positive press and the timely ghost-writing services of Bill Ayers. However, Obama’s verbal bumbling wasn’t the only real story at his Elkhart extravaganza. During the question-and-answer session, he also seized his chance to address the various pejorative misconceptions of citizens who don’t take him at his word. A gun-shop owner asked him about his opposition to the Second Amendment — and was told in no uncertain terms that he needed to put these notions out of his head. Obama was not trying to take our guns. No way. He had never proposed confiscation. He just wanted to impose reasonable, common-sense measures. Understand, Neanderthal Gun Owner?
What Obama said on this issue was not, in itself, all that newsworthy. Everybody already knows that Obama opposes the attribution of any real force to the Second Amendment. Everybody’s already heard, from John Lott, that Obama doesn’t believe in any right to private gun ownership. Everybody already understands that Obama’s whole political class has been in Second Amendment denial for decades, if not for centuries. And everybody knows that Obama will obfuscate his actual intentions. When I first saw this part of his presentation, I immediately said to myself: “If you like your weapon, you can keep your weapon.” After all, Obama never stated any intention of obliterating the health plans of millions of private citizens. On the contrary, he and his crew earnestly assured Americans that, if they liked their plans, they could keep their plans. Along with many others, I lost my plan all the same. Obama is dumber than a box of rocks. Hell, he’s dumber than a box of really dumb rocks. But he’s not that dumb. He knew perfectly well, back in the day, that the Obamacare would put an end to health care plans like mine. He knew perfectly well that the Affordable Care Act would tend to make private health plans unaffordable. He gave his assurances with great apparent sincerity nevertheless.
Why on earth would anyone accept his assurances about gun ownership?
The news for me is that somebody did take Obama’s obvious nonsense seriously. What’s more, this somebody employed those remarks from the most pro-abortion president in the history of the United States to promote gun control as a “pro-life” issue.
The body in question is Catholic blog-monger Mark Shea — probably the goofiest, most cerebrally challenged creature ever to make a racket of his religion. L. Ron Hubbard at least demonstrated a wild creativity, an alpha male personality, and a deep practical understanding of the weaknesses inherent in the human psyche. He proceeded with ingenuity and panache. Not Mark Shea. This doofus actually once asserted, as part of an argument for the historicity of the gospels, that a single book (Caesar’s own Gallic Wars) constituted the sole historical evidence for the Roman conquest of Gaul. When I saw Shea’s little article on this theme, I happened to be reading about Roman archeological sites in Western Europe — so I was absolutely flabbergasted that such aggressive ignorance could merit publication. Shea has kept right on publishing his aggressive ignorance. Believe it or not, he has even managed to make a buck off the “Our Father” and the “Hail Mary.”
The disturbing thing about Shea’s citation of Obama is that it is part of long-maintained attempt to pitch gun control as a “pro-life” issue. Those familiar with the Seamless Garment of Cardinal Bernardin will understand the fundamental irrational strategy. You cannot oppose abortion, Mr. Right Wing, unless you also support gun control. (But you can support gun control, Mr. President, sir, without opposing abortion: Mark Shea will even cite you as a moral authority!)
An important point to make here is that Obama, eminently reasonable in the eyes of his stooge Shea, was answering a question that the gun shop owner didn’t ask. He didn’t ask why Obama wanted to confiscate guns, but why Obama wanted to control and restrict gun access for law-abiding citizens. Obama does, of course, want to control and restrict — and so does Shea. Answering a different question is a common trick of politicians who want to avoid certain issues — and it’s a common trick on Shea’s blog, too. Shea loves no opponent better than the straw man that he himself creates, however ineptly. Maybe this is why he feels such a profound kinship when he hears Obama’s lies.
Shea generally declines to engage in active argument for his one-way identification of disparate issues. He makes tendentious diction do all the walking. If you support your Second Amendment freedoms, you belong to “the Gun Cult.” If you are a gun owner, you are obsessed with your “precious” gun. If you agree with Shea (and Obama), it doesn’t matter how much of an imbecile your speech makes you appear to be: you are “a smart person.” If you have another point of view, you are a fellow traveler in the company of “folly.” You get the idea. If Mark Shea has had it, it can’t be a hard idea to get.
One central manifestation of this general strategy can best be described as refutation by classification. If you oppose Shea on any of his favored issues, you are a “movement conservative” — and therefore by definition in the wrong. The implication is that you only believe what you believe because you are in lock-step, mindless conformity with a movement that you’ve never given the slightest critical attention at all — whereas Mark Shea, the Emperor of IQ, thinks all these matters through for himself. It’s remarkable how all this independent thinking results in predictable leftist and statist viewpoints. Furthermore, none of you libertarians who support gun rights should object that you are the most determined questioners of conservative orthodoxies. You support gun rights and don’t trust Obama — so you are a “movement conservative,” see?
This simple approach appeals to Shea — but he is willing to go all out in defense of Obama and even offers a tiny portion of actual argument on Obama’s behalf, on the issue of confiscation, which was never really raised. I’m not saying that it’s valid argument — but Shea is trying a lot harder for Obama than he would for David Daleiden. His argument is twofold. First, gun confiscation hasn’t happened yet; therefore we need not fear that it might happen in the future. Second, some kind of gun control would stop some or all of the 33,000 deaths from gun violence expected to occur in 2016; therefore, if you oppose gun control measures, you are an idolatrous worshiper of your own “precious gun” and can never consider yourself pro-life. Never mind that push-back from the NRA might well have been inhibiting plans for gun confiscation. Never mind that gun confiscation has indeed transpired in other countries that began with “common-sense gun control” of the kind now being promoted by Obama and his acolyte Shea. Never mind that lots of gun violence occurs in large, Democrat-controlled cities with stringent gun control laws. Never mind contributing causes of crime like the breakdown of the family. Never mind the lack of evidence that proposed legislation will really reduce gun violence. Never mind all that, you movement conservative, you! Your Gun Cult must be destroyed. Mark Shea is going to chop it down just like Saint What’s-His-Name chopped down the tree sacred to the pagan god Something-or-Other! (It was Boniface who is said to have chopped down the tree sacred to Thor — which Mark Shea will indeed know as soon as he can Google it.)
Don’t let the poverty of the argument reassure you, folks. It’s not intended to be convincing in the face of any serious critique. If it were that kind of argument, Mark Shea wouldn’t be the one making it. The dangerous thing is that responsible gun owners are being equated with abortionists and baby-part-peddling Planned Parenthood apparatchiks. This equation is not designed to get leftists to turn against abortion. It’s designed to make gun owners ashamed of what they are, as if they were the ones slipping into Chicago to produce those incredible inner-city homicide rates. Shea’s unrestrained gob-spittle is only a symptom of a vaster movement. Its burden will be repeated day after day, year after year, until it sinks in. Abandon your Gun Cult, you fool! Retro me, NRA! You can be sure that this sort of thing will be pitched, falsely, as Catholic teaching in the near future. Indeed, Shea is only one of those already pitching it in exactly those terms.