Hardly had the blood been scrubbed off the floors in Newtown than everyone who was anyone had begun shifting the blame from Adam Lanza to some intangible social failure.
Back in 2002, Michael Moore trundled his bulk over to Colorado to exploit the Columbine massacre for a general rant about gun culture, American foreign policy and how hard it was to find a shop selling bacon grease by the ton at two in the morning.
In his film, which won an Oscar for Best Documentary, Moore gave his audience what they wanted, lots of scenes of “hicks and hillbillies” buying, selling and giving away guns all over the place to illustrate the murderous ravages of American gun culture. Some of those scenes were staged, but it didn’t matter since Moore was catering to an audience that had nothing but contempt for working class Americans and would believe any awful thing about them.
What did gun culture have to do with a plot by two disgruntled dorks with tastes in pop culture far afield from the rural gun-loving dystopia that Moore was doing his best to depict? About as much as gun culture has to do with headcases like Adam Lanza or Jared Loughner.
Your average school shooter is unhappy and angry, irreligious, incapable of fitting into a community and filled with rage that he exercises through violent fantasies. His culture isn’t gun culture. It’s loner culture. Video games do not cause him to kill, but they are how he entertains himself until he can get a taste of the real thing.
Adam Lanza, Dylan Kleibold, Eric Harris, Seung-Hui Cho, James Holmes, One L. Goh and Jared Loughner had as much in common with what the Michael Moore Fan Club thinks of as “gun culture” as Michael Moore does with the working class. Whatever gun culture they had was not the American Scots-Irish culture of the hunter, the rancher and the militia member, but the urban posse of emasculated men of no worth that brandish weapons as a way to get respect.
The gun culture of the school shooter is the lobby scene in The Matrix, the frag or be fragged multiplayer gaming culture of Halo and Doom, and the Joker killing his way across Gotham. None of these products of mass entertainment make one a killer, but they are also far more illustrative of the type of gun culture that defines school shooters, than anything that Michael Moore and the MSNBC talking heads mean by gun culture.
For most Americans there is no gun culture, only the ownership of guns. To the extent that any gun culture has developed it was in response to a gun-control culture that sought to demonize the ownership of firearms. The traditional and religious culture of the American gun owner has little in common with the power fantasies of the school shooter. To the gun owner, a firearm is a necessary tool. To the school shooter, it is a way to stop feeling powerless, a way to get beyond the ersatz joys of killing bots and avatars, of watching Keanu Reeves spin through the air while filling a mob of policemen full of lead, with the joy of the real kill.
For all the loose talk about American gun culture, no one really seems to be able to define what it is. Defining gun culture by the entertainment industry drifts too far into Hollywood and Detroit, and away from the rural culture that is the real target of gun-control culture.
Instead there are a thousand articles written in children’s blood crying out, “We can’t just do nothing.” Something must be done. Now. Last week. If only we ban more weapons, we can be as safe as Norway, home of the worst shooting spree of all, or Connecticut, which already has an assault weapons ban. For the children… who had no one to protect them when a gunman came to their school and will still have no one to protect them when gun-control culture gets its way.
After these come a torrent of armchair psychology analyses of America’s gun culture, which are only slightly more elegant versions of Michael Moore’s thesis about rural America. And those are what gun culture is really about. After all how can you be confident of your own superiority unless you have a documentary and a hundred articles affirming it for you by the traditional method of putting down the people at the bottom of the ladder.
What liberals think of as gun culture is really shorthand for rural America. It’s what liberals won’t say, but it’s what they mean. Americans are still sentimental about the village, so, for now, the number of movies that portray the rural community as ideal, rather than a hive of small-minded bigots, is still rather high. But there are backdoor ways of getting at the same topic, and talking about gun culture is one of them.
When liberals talk about “gun culture”, they mean the same thing that Barack Obama did when he told his San Francisco fundraiser friends about the people out there who still cling to their bibles and their guns. It isn’t about the guns really, though gun-control culture is worried about having that much personal autonomy in the hands of people who don’t share their values and like their independence, it’s about rural America. And rural America, like guns, is another symbol that stands in for traditional America.
The left cannot talk about how much it hates this country. Gun culture is one of its dog whistles. Talking about gun culture allows the left to publicly vent its hatred for America. But the truth about gun culture is that the left has a great deal more in common with Dylan Klebold, Eric Harris, Adam Lanza and Jared Loughner. Far more than those shooters had with any phantom conservative gun culture.
The American left, like any high school shooter, is bitter, angry, disgruntled and filled with contempt for the rest of the country. Stuck in a country made of flyover country, the left treats Americans to their own Columbine Massacre every time it defends criminals and terrorists, every time it wrecks American manufacturing and laughs all the way to the bank as it bankrupts Americans.
And both the left and the shooters agree that the people should not have guns.
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