Monday, April 06, 2009

You Can Have My Gun...

Do you remember the campaign rally where John McCain was finally forced to confront the escalation of the hateful rhetoric that seemed to plague his campaign? In the weeks after Sarah Palin was named the VP candidate, certain bad seeds began to whip the reactionary crowds into frenzied mobs, and there was some shady invective being tossed about. McCain had to reassure an old biddy that Obama did indeed love his country, and that he wasn’t a Muslim, nor was he a terrorist. I remember feeling the bad juju in the air, and there was a period when I felt a palpable fear that the future president would be attacked, and maybe even killed. Fortunately a combination of effective security and cooler heads prevailed, and our man was sworn in without incident (other than a John Roberts gaffe during the administration of the oath).

I realized at that time that there was a sizable minority in this nation that would never accept the legitimacy of his ascension. Granted the same thing applied during the Bush terms, but I don’t ever remember any reporting of credible threats against his life. The man just didn’t inspire as much hatred among the groups likely to engage in politically-minded violence. He was an anti-tax, flag-waving Christian. And he never made the extreme right worry that he would take away their guns. Obama, on the other hand, had few qualms about stating his support for gun control. He even publicly expressed his support for the handgun ban in DC (overturned recently by the Federal Supreme Court).

Within the past few months firearms purchases have spiked dramatically. Some of this increase has been due to a growing wave of gun smuggling flowing from the United States to Mexico, a nation currently in the midst of chaos caused by violent drug wars. But I believe that political paranoia and insecurity in-country is the driving force behind the bulk of this activity. For some reason, it seems that there will always be a segment of society that believes that the Democratic Party seeks to eliminate the Second Amendment Rights ensured by the government. No amount of logical reasoning or patient explanation seems to allay the fears of this group. They trend toward the extreme. And because they think that knock on the door could come at any time, they stockpile weapons and ammunition.

Such appears to have been the case with 22-year old Richard Poplawski. A dishonorably discharged Marine, Poplawski killed three police officers who responded to a domestic dispute call early this past Saturday morning. Apparently his mother (who he lived with) got into an argument with him after his cat pissed on the floor. After mama called the 5-0, Poplawski donned his bulletproof vest, brandished his illegally acquired AK-47, and waited for his moment of confrontation. Those cops never had a chance. And to add to the senseless tragedy of this event, there seems to have been evidence that Poplawski was insane, despite the denials of his friends and family. He also carried a record which included disorderly conduct and protection from abuse orders.

No doubt there will be additional information about the sad life of Richard Poplawski filtering out into the media in the coming week, and during what is sure to be a highly publicized criminal case involving capital crimes. A quick internet search reveals possible ties to a Neo Nazi white supremacist group called Stormfront. If you want to have a look at that stuff… do your own research. But you don’t have to track down the Aryan brotherhood to hear alarmist wingnuts sound the clarion call. Just tune into any number of conservative hack radio hosts like Limbaugh, Hannity, and/or Glenn Beck. They are not at all shy about provoking hate to advance their own selfish aims in their sick games. Unfortunately, they aren’t about to be held accountable for unsettling the deeply disturbed... people like Richard Poplawski. I think we’re going to see a lot more of this stuff over the next couple of years.

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