It's Always About The Gun
I’m Michael A. Cohen, and this is Truth and Consequences: A no-holds-barred look at the absurdities, hypocrisies, and surreality of American politics. If you received this email - or you are a free subscriber - and you’d like to subscribe: you can sign up below.
On Saturday, there was yet another mass shooting in America. This time it was Buffalo. The day before, it was Milwaukee. On Sunday, it was Laguna Woods, California, and Houston, Texas. Over the weekend, there were 307 gun violence incidents, in which 128 people died, and 297 were wounded.
The attack in Buffalo has received the most attention because of the high death toll (ten people killed) and the racist motivation of the shooter, Payton Gendron (most of those who died were black). He was a disaffected, white 18-year-old who, in a manifesto he put out before the shooting, claimed to have been inspired by white replacement theory or the notion that there is an ongoing effort, driven by Jewish elites, to replace white Americans with immigrants and people of color. This toxic theory drove mass shooters in El Paso, Pittsburgh, and elsewhere — and it influenced a mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, from which the Buffalo shooter received inspiration. Gendron, who said he was radicalized by reading racist websites, allegedly singled out a supermarket in Buffalo because it was in a zip code with the city's largest percentage of Black residents. This was unquestionably a racist-motivated hate crime and terrorist attack.
Over the past several months, prominent Republicans and media personalities have pushed the white replacement theory. They have claimed that Democrats support open borders (they don’t) because they want to bring non-white immigrants into the United States to dilute the power of white Americans. The New York Times recently ran a massive expose on how Fox News host Tucker Carlson spouts this white supremacist rhetoric to his millions of followers. In recent months, the number three Republican in the House, Elise Stefanik, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, and Ohio GOP Senate candidate J.D. Vance have also publicly espoused it.
After a mass shooting in El Paso in 2019 that killed 23 primarily Hispanic shoppers at a Wal-Mart, the shooter’s manifesto echoed the xenophobic rhetoric of President Trump. While it’s not clear if these politicians are directly inspiring mass shooters to act, their embrace of white replacement theory and other racist and white supremacist appeals is unquestionably legitimizing such beliefs.
Not surprisingly, media coverage of the shooting has focused on the racist views of the shooter. For example, here’s the front page of the New York Times earlier this morning.
Do you see what’s missing from this coverage?
I understand why news outlets focus on the racial aspects of this crime. I’m not criticizing the New York Times. And I understand entirely why Black Americans are terrified by what happened in Buffalo. They should be. White replacement theory puts targets on their backs — as it does Hispanics, Jews, and pretty much anyone who is not white.
But as is always the case with gun violence in America … it’s about the gun.
The suspect legally purchased the Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle that he used in the shooting, even though last year he announced in his high school that he wanted to commit a murder-suicide. The state police were notified, and they took Gendron into custody. He underwent a psychiatric evaluation but still had no problem passing a firearms background check. Gendron also had two other weapons with him, a shotgun he bought last December and a bolt-action rifle that his father had given him as a Christmas present when he was 16 years old.
Gendron purchased a parts kit that retails for $60, which allowed him to modify the gun, thus making it more deadly. He also bought a high-capacity magazine though not in New York, where they are banned for sale. In short, what made this horrific crime possible was that the shooter had relatively easy access to a semi-automatic rifle and the tools to make it even more deadly.
The thing is that America is not the only country in the world with a vast number of disaffected adolescents. It’s not the only country where kids can surf the internet and plumb the depths of racist and white supremacist ideas. It’s not the only country where cynical politicians and media personalities pump dangerous and toxic ideas into the brains of their followers. It’s not the only country where people suffer from mental illnesses.
But this is the only country that allows its residents to rather easily purchase high-caliber weapons.
If America had stricter gun laws, Gendron would likely be another local loser spouting racist vile on the Internet. Because of America’s gun laws, ten people are dead.
I understand the motivation in harshly criticizing prominent Republicans who have spouted replacement theory or other xenophobic and white supremacist language. But let’s not forget that virtually every Republican legislator in America — from Congress to local state legislatures — has fought against more stringent gun control measures. That’s why America has so many mass shootings, and it’s why in 2020, more than 45,000 Americans died because of a gun. Whatever the motivation, it’s about the gun.
It’s always about the gun.
What’s Going On?
Joe Biden is now talking about “ultra-MAGA” as a way to attack Republicans. Before you laugh, the polling data seems to back it up.
Pennsylvania Republicans are getting prepared to shoot themselves in the foot.
Though the leading Senate Democratic candidate, John Fetterman, just had a stroke.
This article is from a few weeks ago, but let it be a reminder to GET BOOSTED. It could save your life.
“That’s what we don’t want to hear anymore.”