I didn’t want to write about mass shootings for my first blog post. I didn’t. I had planned something cheery like a joke about “Hello world!” I really had. But this America and this is 2019, and I must speak out, so here we are.
I was raised around guns, trained to shoot first on a pellet gun and then on rifles, shotguns, and pistols. I took hunter’s safety courses with my family even though I was technically too young to enroll (and scored higher than my father on the exam). The only time I was ever grounded as a child was over a range safety violation, a mistake I never made again, mind you. Most family vacations were spent, at least in part, at the range. A good year started with a freezer full of venison. Guns are a part of my family’s traditions and heritage, and in that regard I understand my father being a single-issue voter on gun rights, even if we sometimes clash about it for good reason. I understand the fear of losing guns—losing gun rights in our family would be losing our family’s heirlooms, our family’s stories, our material connections to each other and the past.
But mark my words, if conservatives themselves do not take down white supremacy, misogyny,Trump, Mitch McConnell, and the entire current party leadership from the inside—and soon!—you will lose your guns. All your worst fears will come true. And you will have no one to blame but yourself for your inaction. And it will happen in one of two ways.
The first way is, of course, exactly what conservatives fear: the liberal Democrats, having been radicalized by Republican inaction and empowered by a frustrated, disgusted voter base, will have the reactionary power to legislate guns away, and they will do so gleefully. As conservatives love to point out, many of the people in power in the Democratic party don’t really understand guns or gun culture, so the legislation will be written with a broad brush and probably go too far, and it will be widely supported because of how much most people feel threatened by living in a world where domestic terrorism is an everyday thing, and we want to do something—anything—to fix it.
The guns themselves, along with all those family stories, will be gathered up indiscriminately in massive buyback programs, and they will be destroyed, burned in a sacrificial pyre to our sense of safety, and the majority of people will rejoice at their demise because they have seen too many children die on the evening news to care about your family’s stories anymore.
But this is, honestly, probably the better scenario than the second one.
The second possibility is if Trump, Pence, and McConnell continue to run roughshod over every other part of the constitution. These are men who are more concerned about their own power than any consistent ideology—they are, in short, fascists who believe that their power makes them right and any threat to that power is wrong, and therefore they are right to stamp it out. And at some point, they will realize that an armed population is a population that could threaten their power. And at that point, they will take the guns. It may start with something that most Republicans (who have, of course, tolerated Trump’s wanton disregard for human rights so far) find perfectly acceptable—oh, well, maybe he’s just taking guns away from immigrants, that sort of thing. But it will have no due process (when has Trump ever respected due process?), and without due process, it’s only tiny step to violating anyone’s rights. Perhaps owning a gun will require party membership? Perhaps you’ll have to sign an affidavit swearing allegiance to the president and the flag? Certainly these things wouldn’t be out of the realm of historical precedent. We have seen fascists leaders take guns before, as everyone immersed in conservative second amendment rhetoric would happily tell you. Under Trump, you will find yourself living in a police state under an unstable and egomaniacal leader, where there is no appeal, only the great leader’s paranoia—and your guns will be taken away not voluntarily in a buy-back program imposed through votes and due process but systematically, incrementally to strengthen the power of the state and make the tyrants comfortable.
There is only one way to avoid either (or both in succession!) of these scenarios: conservatives who have been left behind by the increasingly radical fascists who currently run the GOP must take back their party. If you are a conservative and continue to support Trump and McConnell, though–or even if you simply don’t stop your fellow conservatives in their support of white supremacists and misogynists–you will lose your guns. So, I ask you, conservatives: what matters more here? What do you value more: Trump or guns? Loyalty to your corrupt, fetid party—a party that has betrayed all the values you have said you care about—or your actual rights?