Opinion: The dangerous combination of guns and conspiracies

The hatred that’s crept its way into American politics is new. The violence it’s spawned is newer yet.

  • By Rich Moniak
  • Saturday, May 28, 2022 12:41am
  • Opinion

By Rich Moniak

Uvalde “will happen again, and again” Jonathan V. Last wrote for the Bulwark the morning after an 18-year-old man murdered 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Texas. “Even if we reformed gun laws, the sheer number of guns in circulation would continue to contribute to tragedies and shootings for years — probably decades — to come.”

With more guns than adults in America, it obvious that most gun owners are responsible. But Last is right. Even if Congress passed “laws that are aggressive but pass constitutional muster”, it’ll still be “a generational task” to remove enough guns from circulation.

What that means is there will also be more mass shootings like the one that happened at a Buffalo grocery store a week earlier.

The perpetrator of that crime was perversely inspired by the “great replacement theory,” which claims Democrats are seeking to replace white voters by opening the floodgates to immigration. How we address the plague of misinformation, falsehoods and conspiracies like that will dictate how often such shootings occur in the future.

Gun sales have been climbing steadily since 2005. They spike after every mass shooting. For this discussion though, it doesn’t matter why that’s happening. A decade and a half of momentum in the wrong direction can’t be reversed overnight.

Comparatively speaking, the hatred that’s crept its way into American politics is a young phenomenon. The violence it’s spawned is newer yet. We have the ability to arrest the momentum before the situation gets totally out of control.

The morning after the insurrection at the Capitol last year, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, gave his colleagues the prescription for doing that. “The best way we can show respect for the voters who are upset is by telling them the truth. That is the burden, and the duty, of leadership.”

Of course, he was referring to then-President Donald Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen. That’s why tens of thousands attended the rally that day and a mob of a few thousand stormed the Capitol. He was also chastising Republican senators who chose “to continue to support” Trump’s “dangerous gambit by objecting to the results of a legitimate, democratic election.”

But almost 17 months since that tragic day, most of them, including Sen. Dan Sullivan, lack the courage to unequivocally state that Trump was lying about the election then and continues to lie now. This month, he claimed that the newly released film “2000 Mules” “shows the world exactly how the 2020 Presidential Election was Rigged and Stolen.” This time, the supposed fraud was stuffing ballot boxes “like never before — and it’s all on video. Ballots were trafficked and sold in a massive operation in each Swing State.”

Like every one of Trump’s past proofs, this film has been thoroughly debunked. Even the talk show hosts on Fox News and Newsmax aren’t discussing it.

But when it was released, it still reached enough diehard Trump supporters on two video platforms be among the weekend’s top ten grossing films.

Despite the lack of evidence, Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., is one of many Republicans in Congress who has continually promotes Trump’s election lie. “If our election systems continue to be rigged and continued to be stolen then it’s going to lead to one place and that’s bloodshed,” he said last August.

A spokesperson for Cawthorn stated he wasn’t advocating violence but “fears others would erroneously choose that route.”

But lying about the election still plants dangerous ideas into the minds of some who believe it.

“When do we get to use the guns?” a man asked Charlie Kirk at a Turning Point USA in October. “That’s not a joke. I’m not saying it like that. I mean, literally, where’s the line? How many elections are they going to steal before we kill these people?”

That question should worry every American.

The stolen election and great replacement may be different conspiracies. But they similarly claim the political opposition is scheming to destroy one’s way of life. The hatred that breeds doesn’t guarantee violence everywhere. But with almost 400 million guns in America, it’s foolish to think it won’t happen somewhere.

And there will be a lot more somewheres if Republicans don’t remove the malignant cancer named Trump from the top of their party.

• Rich Moniak is a Juneau resident and retired civil engineer with more than 25 years of experience working in the public sector. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

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