I promise that not all of my posts will be about guns, but I just got back from the March For Our Lives and had some thoughts.
In a section of my last post, I wrote about the constant lecturing and nitpicking that pro-gun folks are waiting to give gun control advocates when they get certain details about guns wrong. It’s annoying and mostly useless, I argued, but just try to get the details right and then you won’t have to worry about it. It’s been a few weeks since I wrote that, and in that time, young people (mostly high school students) across the country have protested, marched, walked out and led a national conversation on gun control that is bigger than any we’ve seen in recent memory. And since the mantle of the gun control issue has been taken up and is now held by young people, the detail nitpicking and condescending lecturing has gone from an annoying online trend to the dominant strategy of the pro-gun right.
Fresh off of weeks of slandering and inventing conspiracy theories about the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students that have been leading the gun control fight, the right wing media machine has turned it’s strategy toward impugning the motives and intellect of young people and gun control advocates at large. There are still a few soulless cretins personally attacking the Parkland kids, but for the majority of the right wing that wants to mask their bad faith arguments with a sheen of respectability and concern, a strategy has emerged:
These kids are too young to have a national voice on this issue. They’re only walking out because they feel societal pressure and/or they want to be cool. They don’t even know what they’re protesting. They’re trying to use raw emotion instead of the facts. Gun control advocates are acting like experts on the subject but don’t know the first thing about guns. I appreciate the initiative, but this should be left to the experts and policymakers that know what they’re doing.
Inevitably some right wing provocateur will interview a single protester who will get a few gun details wrong, the video will go viral on the right wing social media outlets, and the pro-gun crowd will laugh at the misguidedness of the whole movement. The anti-millenial sentiment of the right is being tied to gun control as we speak.
Yes, there are many 15-year-old kids that don’t know the difference between an AR-15 and an AK-47. That’s probably a good thing. Most adult gun control advocates aren’t gun experts either (I said most, not all), and they don’t need to be to speak on this issue. They need to understand that there is a problem, the sources of the problem, the possible solutions, and have the will to see those solutions implemented. The people marching today understand those fundamental things, while the pro-gun side either does not or pretends not to. The following are objectively true statements that the pro-gun side continues to either not know or lie about:
- Guns ARE the problem, or at least part of it. The amount of guns in a country and/or state is strongly correlated to the amount of violence
- It’s statistically much more dangerous to have a gun in your house than to not have one.
- Our current gun policy has been a massive failure.
- Gun control does work. Examples:
The “know nothing kids” get these things. And all of these things are much more important to understand and know than the caliber of each AR-15 variant on the market. That’s useful for gun trivia night, and it’s probably necessary for the actual policymakers to know, but it’s outside the bounds of the debate at hand. The understanding of those above points are what will lead to the eventual solutions to this problem. To not properly understand them is to not understand or know much about the issue.
So before you get on your high horse and laugh at these kids for caring, ask yourself why that “punk high school kid that doesn’t know anything” is the one advocating for the policies that have been statistically proven to work while you’re defending the policies that have led to the highest gun violence country in the first world. Maybe that high school kid, the one approaching this issue from a fresh perspective that’s not yet hardened by decades of gun culture propaganda, isn’t the one that doesn’t know anything. Maybe that’s you.