I’m a gun owner. I’m what I call a gun enthusiast. I like to go to the gun range and shoot for fun. You know, target competitions with my brothers, etc. But, I’m also a believer in gun regulation. Like, really strong gun regulation. I know, gun nuts are going to come for me.

They always do when I talk about this.

But the reality is, it’s easier to buy a gun than it is to get Sudafed. I have to present my ID and be entered into a database just to alleviate allergy symptoms. But I can buy a gun and ammo with just an ID and nothing else. Like, I don’t even need money. I can finance multiple weapons with no upfront cost. In and out, two hours tops – more on that in a minute.

I believe we need, at the very least, required training prior to owning a firearm. These things aren’t playthings so they shouldn’t be as easy to acquire as toys are. The idea that we’re just supposed to ignore the “well-regulated” part of the second amendment over the “shall not be infringed” part is insanity. Particularly, since our rights aren’t being infringed with a well-regulated right to keep and bear arms. In fact, they’re being upheld.

Moving on…

Secondly, I believe that in addition to training, we need to increase the age limit of semi-automatic firearms until people are 21. I’m not talking about just AR-15s, I’m talking about handguns. In Texas, an 18-year-old can buy a long–gun – something designed primarily for hunting based on old tradition and definition. A far cry from firearms that can be fired as fast you can pull the trigger with magazines as big as you can find.

When Texas passed the concealed carry law a decade or more ago allowing citizens to carry guns hidden on their person, I was initially terrified. When I saw that there were requirements to take a concealed handgun class, which I thought didn’t go far enough, I felt a little relief. The CHL classes taught people gun safety, explained the law, and taught people how to use and store their weapons properly.

But now, you don’t need any of that. And to be honest, the main reason I carry when I leave the house now is that I fear right-wing gun nuts more than anyone else. I see them at the store all the time open-carrying just to show off. Sometimes the gun isn’t properly holstered or they’re standing there with their hands on it just begging for it to go off.

Terrorism For No Money Down

As if to add insult to injury, the firearms purchased by the Uvalde terrorist were made by a manufacturer that runs ads modeled after “Call of Duty” (most likely to appeal to younger audiences) and they run a buy now pay later payment plan which they advertise on their homepage. Financing is offered by a company called Credova which offers no down payment financing. That in itself is hugely problematic.

That means that is likely the guns used in Uvalde haven’t been paid for. There’s not even a cost restriction to terrorism in America. One thing is certain, you can’t finance a toy gun, so in that sense, I guess a plaything is harder to get than a gun. It’s starting to feel like we’re handing out guns like candy. It’s like arms smuggling in broad daylight.

It’s insane to think millions of people with no training are going to be safe with firearms. Imagine if we just let people drive cars like that. Or fly planes. In fact, we should make the requirements to own guns similar to those of owning or driving a car.

Why not?

Make people register their guns and renew that registration every two years. Make people carry insurance. End the private sale of weapons at gun shows and regulate private sales among citizens by making it similar to transferring a title for a car. This will also address where a good portion of guns come from and end up in inner cities. Closing that loophole would put a dent in unregistered guns on the street.

Gun storage is also a major issue. If we’re talking about gun violence, let’s address all of it. In Houston alone, more than 4,000 guns are stolen out of vehicles and end up on the street EVERY YEAR. From flooding the streets with guns to the accidental death of children every year, gun storage laws and closing private sale loopholes would help tackle gun violence in myriad ways.

Anyone who tells you these policies won’t work hasn’t put much thought into actually trying to end gun violence. The idea that “hardening schools” and arming teachers is any solution is absurd. These are policies that gloss over the issues that lead to gun violence. The biggest issue to get swept under the rug isn’t mental health.

It’s extremism.

Republican solutions promote the idea that more violence is needed to tackle gun violence in America. The reality is that most of them are just trying to sell more guns to the people that dump millions into their campaigns. They don’t care about the extremism they promote. In fact, by promoting the idea that this country needs more guns they’re feeding the extremism they advance. We see it day after day out in the real world.

The Politics of Gun Violence

We have to change the narrative. We can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results. A 10-day waiting period would have saved those kids in Uvalde because the terrorist wouldn’t have been able to receive his weapons until the day after school was let out for the summer.

However, does that mean he would have just gone to the nearest Walmart or grocery store? Probably. That’s what hardening schools will do. If we make it more difficult for a terrorist to shoot up a school without addressing the underlying issues that lead them to that point, they’ll just go somewhere else as we’ve seen over and over again.

What’s being put on the table by Republicans aren’t solutions. They’re policies that will continue to divide this country in an increasingly violent way. Whatever the Uvalde terrorist’s motivations end up being, the notion that he should take his frustrations out on elementary school students by murdering them is extremism.

What’s being put on the table by Democrats aren’t solutions by themselves. But they are part of the solution. Democrats need to take things a step further and start looking into finding ways to address extremism through social programs, public schools, and an effort by every community from coast to coast. 

Extremist thought keeps growing in every segment of society. We’re seeing it not just among white people. There’s an element of what extremists and hate groups continue to refer to as ethnonationalism. It’s an idea that promotes “American” as an ethnicity. They use dog whistles suggesting “they’re protecting Western society” which is code for “what white people built”. They say “colonialism is the best thing to happen to the West” and that we should be grateful for it.

There’s a disdain for immigrants within this movement. It’s largely based on rhetoric like “we’re being invaded” at the Southern border. There’s a huge anti-trans element too. They promote anti-Black conspiracy theories among Latinos and push the xenophobia hard among Black people. There’s no doubt in my mind that some movements like Foundational Black Americans (FBA) or American Descendents of Slaves (ADOS) have been infiltrated by white supremacists on social media. Latino groups too. These infiltrators people don’t actually represent either movement, but they get involved in conversations in subtle ways to promote division and hate.

It’s a strategy of confusion promoted by the Boogaloo Bois who seek to start not just a civil war, but an ethnic war. The idea is to get us fighting and killing each other as they stoke violence and laugh from the sidelines. This same kind of mentality and thought shows up on social media feeds every day. The subtlety is the first step in the recruitment process.

Culture of Extremism

Regardless of a mass-shooters motivation, it always comes back to hateful ideology and extremism that’s becoming more common on just about every screen in the US. When you add the ease of access to guns, we make extremist ideas of civil or ethnic war actionable. We make fantasy a reality while doing nothing to counter what breeds those ideologies.

In the modern era, it’s both political and social grooming. It happens simultaneously as politicians and pundits echo what’s being said on far-right channels. Tucker Carlson wasn’t the first to fear the “white race” disappearing. That goes back all the way to Benjamin Franklin and the founding fathers who gave birth to the idea of breaking up communities that weren’t assimilated to a white ethnostate enough, and because they feared their voting power.

These ideas were again made popular by David Duke and his suit and tie-wearing new Klan who vowed to gain political power. They were echoed by John Tanton and his network of so-called “think-tanks” that validated and normalized much of what Duke was saying. Now, clean-cut-looking members of hate groups have become the norm.

All of this feeds into the gun culture. You almost can’t talk about one without the other. The idea the people in the suburbs will ever confront the things they are told to fear is slim to none. It takes an extremist mindset to believe that Black Lives Matter was coming to the suburbs during the summer of 2020. But that was out there and people believed it.

That fed a lot of hype that had suburbanites buying even more guns.

There are no city offices here. No “streets” to protest on. It was like watching extremism feed gun culture from the best seats in the house. The more I become aware of it the more I see it. Because of that, we have to be willing to go much further than simply gun control. We need funding for community resources: healthcare, mental health, education, and countering extremist ideas no matter how subtle.

But based on the conversations people are having right now, it seems no one wants to confront what really needs to be addressed. One thing is certain: the last thing we need is more militarized police. We have more than enough of that. And we saw yet again, how useless a militarized police really is. It’s time to stop spending money on policing.

Instead, let’s spend that money on underserved communities like Uvalde and Buffalo.

The Antagonist Magazine is a project made up of journalists, activists, and writers focused on amplifying the stories of marginalized communities. The goal is to educate the public by sharing narratives focused on independent voices. Born of an online community in 2019, our platform operates independently; free of corporate influence. Please consider supporting the work of dozens of writers from various communities.

Arturo Dominguez

Arturo is an anti-racist political nerd. He is an upcoming author, journalist, advocate for social justice, and a married father of three. He is a top writer on Medium and a regular contributor to several news media outlets. He writes educational and informative material about systemic racism, white supremacy, and racial injustice.

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