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Subsequent gun panics followed a similar pattern: authorities and the media would use moralistic language to denounce a small segment of gun commerce as responsible for changing patterns of violent crime, and push for reforms to criminalize an imagined unvirtuous gun user.

The arrival of handguns from Austrian manufacturer Glock, which replaced some metal or wood parts with polymers, led to a panic over “plastic guns” in the mid-1980s. Later that decade, attention shifted to “assault weapons,” and the press especially hyped the AK-47, which was imported in greater numbers from China at the end of the Cold War.

Eventually President Bill Clinton banned their importation after foreign manufacturers modified them to bypass the 1994 assault weapons ban. Domestically, the ban’s emphasis on mostly cosmetic features of firearms encouraged manufacturers to redesign weapons to fit new regulations. Once again, gun capitalism found a way.

Of course, given the United States’ history of racialized criminalization, who the virtuous and unvirtuous were in these discourses was never in doubt. Many states increased penalties for gun crimes in concert with the rise of mass incarceration since the 1970s, which disproportionately harmed people of color. These efforts further punished young Black men in cities caught between the twin forces of deindustrialization and the crack epidemic of the 1980s.

The Federal Assault Weapons Ban was signed into law as part of the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which arguably did more to exacerbate the United States’ unparalleled mass incarceration crisis than it did to reduce overall levels of gun violence.

For seven decades, gun panics have shaped gun control politics and policy, resulting in a discussion driven by distinctions between virtuous and unvirtuous gun use. Such a dichotomy obscures the fundamental reality of gun life in America: Gun capitalism has put more than 400 million guns in Americans’ hands.

Despite successive panics, guns remain largely unregulated because we have only narrowly targeted what we perceive to be unvirtuous gun use and users. What regulations we do have merely sanction that confounding commerce. The Oxford suspect’s father, for instance, was just one of nearly 700,000 Americans who tried to buy a gun legally during the week of Black Friday, a data point we know because the FBI vetted and, if precedent is any indication, approved upward of 99 percent of them.

In 1945, there was one gun for every three Americans; today we have more guns than people. Our guns-everywhere culture grew not out of some historical affinity for firearms but in tandem with the postwar boom of consumer capitalism. Cyclical calls for regulating the newest perceived threat to the tenuous status quo of virtuous gun ownership — in this case, the panic over ghost guns — only obscures the broader market dynamics that have armed a population for violence and conflict.

— Andrew C. McKevitt in Gun capitalism — not ‘ghost guns’ or other trends — is to blame for gun violence

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  1. So… people buy what they want. Create a threat of scarcity and they buy that item. This is basic stuff. Also, sounds like they’re voting with their wallets. Further, all those legally purchased pews aren’t used to rob 7-11 or shoot up the local orphanage… until they’re stolen and swapped amongst the naughty. Lock your stuff up unless it is on your person!

    • I’ve had people ask why I have so many guns. I ask them should a golfer be limited to a driver, an iron, a sand wedge, and a putter? They’ll say no because of different courses and the conditions on each hole.

      I tell them I have different guns for different competitions and different classes. There are main competition guns, backups, ones for telescopic and rimfire matches, some historic collection pieces, and some projects that are being worked on.

      And I can only use one at a time.

    • “…to get to “there are no ‘good’ gun owners.””

      I fully expect them to press that line of attack and add to it. They are now bold in declaring capitalism as being evil, and therefore ‘racist’…

    • “…he wants to punish the virtuous?”

      Of course, it’s the low-hanging fruit…

  2. One out of 700,000 background checks for one month is a bad apple. 699,999 out of 700,000 for one month sounds like a success story. I would stick with that.

    • and the panic’d “one bad apple spoils the whole bunch” therefore the whole bunch must be bad therefor all gun owners are bad therefore we must get rid of the bad bunch of apples, gets the most attention. That’s the whole anti-gun/gun-control logic.

    • So legal gats put black men in prison?!? Got it slick. You OK with incarceration for anything Mr. Maroon?

      • Not far off from the chances of a healthy adult dying from COVID: excuse enough to shut down the economy, destroy America’s small businesses, and divert enormous wealth to Jeff Bezos’ space escapades.

  3. So I guess I’m caught between “gun capitalism” and “gun panics”.

    I thought I bought guns because I like them.

    Silly me.

  4. I’d like to see some data to back up the author’s claim that there was only one gun for every three Americans back in 1945. Even if true, guns are not consumable commodities like tires or toilet paper…treated well, they last for generations, and I would bet that most of those guns in existence in 1945 still exist today, unless intentionally destroyed. Then add all the guns made since then and how most of those would likely still be in existence today…

    …oh, when the (likely true) claim is made that there are now more guns than people in America today, the context is usually privately held guns. Does that total include all the who-knows-how-many-millions of guns in the hands of licensed security organizations, law enforcement, and military? And let’s not forget all the off-the-grid guns assembled via 3D printing or 80% kits.

    The horse left the barn long ago. There will never be a successful method of registering or capturing all guns in this country. The only option the Left has is to stigmatize and demonize their possession.

    • “The horse left the barn long ago. There will never be a successful method of registering or capturing all guns in this country.”

      That won’t deter them from trying.

      “The only option the Left has is to stigmatize and demonize their possession.”

      That’s what they have been doing for quite some time now. Literally ‘programming’ their followers to instinctively despise them and be disgusted with the ones that own them.

      They have successfully trained them to believe a black semi-auto rifle is literally a machine gun…

      • They can stigmatize and demonize to their sour little hearts content. I don’t care. I love laughing at them when they give me that disturbed, disgusted look when I open carry.

  5. “racialized criminalization”
    “people of color”
    “punished young Black men in cities caught between .. deindustrialization and ..crack”

    Where do you find these morons? WTF is “Andrew C. McKevitt” Note: the WoPo is NOT a reputable source for anything.

    • There are bits of truth in their moronic ravings. You can’t deny that government has nurtured a classroom to prison pipeline for decades. Can’t deny that prison for profit has impacted the inner city populations more than the rest of the nation. Can’t deny that gun laws are used to harass and persecute inner city populations especially.

      The bit that the left leaves out is, it is the left who harasses the inner city populations, because they make the gun laws, they make policy decisions about drugs and guns, they push the welfare system that traps people in poverty.

      So long as black people obey their white progressive masters, everything is good. When blacks leave the progressive plantations, they are punished.

      • I call BS on the “classroom to prison” pipeline. Public education can be done well or poorly, but the basics of it are the same literally everywhere. If public education classrooms were priming students to become criminals, there’d be a LOT more people in prison, and a lot more of them would be white. It’s not about classrooms; it’s about culture.

        About the “progressive” left’s treatment of black people, you’re absolutely right.

        There is a welfare-industry pipeline to prison, and the public welfare payments scheme couldn’t have been more effective in destroying black families and urban black culture if it had been designed to do exactly that. (If not for the fact that Big Government so routinely fails at everything it tries, I might say they did it on purpose.)

  6. Gun Control zealots have a cow over a PopTart shaped like a gun. That level of insanity is inherent with Gun Control. Such insanity is under enormous pressure and never stops looking for a way to escape. For the Goal of Gun Control is always going to be as History Confirms…slave shacks, nooses, burning crosses, concentration camps, gas chambers, swastikas, etc.

  7. No word on how the crime rate plummeted after 1994, despite a large increase in the number of firearms. That point just doesn’t fit the narrative.

  8. As usual…
    These people get it wrong because they make everything upside down and backwards.

    The problem is not guns. It is not capitalism. It is not gun capitalism.

    Of course the problem is not ghost guns. There is no such thing. The presence of a serial number has nothing to do with the attitude or determination of a criminal holding the gun. One has nothing to do with the other. Too much crime and death is spread around by guns WITH serial numbers for this to be all that. But just out of curiosity, does anyone know what the serial number was on the skateboard used to threaten Rittenhouse?

    The Clinton Assault Weapons Ban did not work because it never actually dealt with THE problem. These people are so caught up in the idea of “disproportionately harmed people of color” which is the very racism they claim to be fighting against that they can’t see the forest through the trees.

    They don’t want to fix these problems and save lives. They just want it to ‘look’ that way. If they wanted solutions, they wouldn’t engage in so much destruction.

  9. The author is clearly an idiot. How can a University educated person be so clueless as to not understand that part of marketing is to create a sense of urgency via a false belief in scarcity? Or, perhaps he understands this, but is so poor at his craft that he is completely incapable of expressing coherent thought. I came away thinking the author is either in favor of passing laws in secret so people can’t go buy what they want to forbid, or he hates consumers and gun buyers in particular. Of course, it could be both.

    • Both. This guy is a utopian progbot, and therefore severely mentally limited. He can’t understand why everyone else is behaving like normal humans. And he hates everyone and everything that stands in the way of the promised utopia.

      The part that utopians never say out loud is *how* they’ll get there. Usually they skip over it in favor of magical thinking (e.g., Marx’s “the state will naturally wither away” once communism has perfected humanity). Or “gun capitalism is the problem.” So if only we could remove “gun capitalism”…but HOW?

      I’m not going to bother reading the rest of that guy’s stupidity, but I think it’s a pretty safe bet that he just keeps on tiptoeing around the conclusion his article would lead to if anyone took it seriously — and that is exactly what you described.

    • “Despite successive panics, guns remain largely unregulated…”

      Gun owners?
      Detachable mags?
      Mandated background checks for purchses?
      No reciprocity between states for CCW permits? Etc, etc.

      On what planet is this moron living?

      “How can a University educated person be so clueless as to not understand that part of marketing is to create a sense of urgency via a false belief in scarcity?”

      McKevitt, like nearly all gun banning advocates, is choosing to be “clueless” to perpetuate his agenda of disarming Americans and turning the US into France, or China. It’s phony, and these people know it.

      What really scares the hell out of them is that each mass shooting, terrorist event, or BLM-type riot/protest actually adds people to “our side” of the argument and that’s what is finally becoming clear to these enlightened ones. It must keep them up at night and hurt them in their pocketbooks as they have to continually add security measures to their gated world to protect themselves.

      It’s most interesting to me that the progressive left, through their support of anarchy and anti-American activity has done infinitely more to add firearms owners to the US general population and strengthen the 2nd Amendment since, say, 2019, than just about all of the work we 2A supporters have done since 1969. Thanks, whack-os! Keep it up!

      • Quote: “What really scares the hell out of them is that each mass shooting, terrorist event, or BLM-type riot/protest ”

        The left are the people who propagate the situations where these events occur. They encourage the events by defunding police, non prosecutions of criminals and indoctrinating children with lies.

        It might scare a few of the useful fools but the puppet masters will keep pulling the strings so these events keep happening.

        Read Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, it is their textbook. Outlines the steps to reach their goals…..and they are following it.

  10. We should avoid using propagandistic terms such as “gun violence” and other which have been fabricated by the civilian disarmament complex.

    • Delgado,

      Agree completely.

      And while we are on the topic of carefully crafted propaganda terms, I heard the very latest Far Left propaganda term today: “irregular migration”–which the Far Left hopes will replace the much more accurate term illegal immigration.

  11. For seven decades, gun panics have shaped gun control politics and policy…

    I agree.

    And it should be no surprise that almost everything will be unproductive when panic is both the impetus and the driving force behind it.

  12. Ladies and gentlemen,

    Make no mistake: the Far Left goes to great lengths to deceive, manipulate, coerce, and outright force their will upon the masses. That applies with equal force to civilian disarmament as any other Far Left platform element.

    Some of the Far Left standard techniques in their “toolbox” are:
    — alternate language
    — falsely discrediting critics
    — shaming political adversaries
    — threatening isolation of political adversaries
    — violently forcing political adversaries to comply

    Note that ALL of those standard techniques target human emotion and are completely devoid of facts, logic, reason, and persuasion.

    The Far Left–deceiving, manipulating, coercing, and outright forcing people into compliance. Let that sink in.

  13. “Many states increased penalties for gun crimes . . . which disproportionately harmed people of color.”

    Yeah, that’s the way it works, Nimrod. Laws disproportionately “harm” the demographic that breaks them. Duh.

  14. “Cyclical calls for regulating the newest perceived threat to the tenuous status quo of virtuous gun ownership — in this case, the panic over ghost guns — only obscures the broader market dynamics that have armed a population for violence and conflict.”

    Dear Mr. McKevitt,

    Kind Sir, your point being?

  15. “Eventually President Bill Clinton banned [AK-47] importation after foreign manufacturers modified them to bypass the 1994 assault weapons ban.”

    If anyone bypassed the law, there would be no need to modify their rifles.

    Manufacturers modified their rifles to comply with the law, so they could continue lawfully supplying the market demand. They re-designed their products exactly as specified by US legislators, although few of those legislators had (or were advised by people with) subject matter expertise in either product design or firearms engineering.

    Congress (then including Joe Biden) passed the import restrictions that Clinton signed, which amounted to trade protectionism for American manufacturing.

    • BobS,

      Your comment is incredibly pertinent.

      I have stated on this site several times recently how the Far Left defines everything that they do is “good” and everything that “others” do is “bad”. You just made that crystal clear.

      Normally, you would think that making a product which complies with applicable laws is a good thing. And yet when “others” comply with laws on the books, the Far Left vilifies it with the terminology “bypass the law”.

      Let that be a warning to everyone: the Far Left defines wrong-versus-right based on the political ideology of the actors rather than objective and timeless standards of wrong-versus-right.

  16. There is a reason PhD has come to mean Piled Higher and Deeper and Professor McKevitt’s babblings exhibit all those qualities.

  17. Even if it is true that 1 in 3 had guns in 1945, how many people had cars then? Guns were much more expensive then they are today and most of the older guns are still around, unless they were completely shot out or destroyed for cause(or boating accidents).

  18. Just another communist decrying capitalism. Communists are not anti-gun, they are just anti you having a gun. Like Mao said “All communists must grasp the truth: political power grows out of the barrel of a gun”.

    They want to seize political power from their adversaries, and that means seizing your guns.

    It’s time for all free men to recon: the power to become and remain free comes out of the barrel of a gun. With God’s blessing I might add.

    “The Constitution of most of our states (and of the United States) assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed.”
    – Thomas Jefferson, letter to to John Cartwright, 5 June 1824

  19. At the core, there is just one word for this B.S., PROPAGANDA
    We are in a war for our freedoms.
    We have to acknowledge it, as the attacks come most every day.

    My favorite of the year:
    “U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis Says Law-Abiding Citizens with Guns Don’t Deter Criminals”

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