Carnage: Guns and Fascism in Armed Madhouse Amerika

A downtown Louisville bank slaughter 11 days ago was the 150th mass shooting (an incident in which 4 people other than the gun-wielder were shot) in the United States (US) in 2023. There have been 19 such shootings since then (as of 4 pm Central time on Thursday, April 20), including one that killed 4 people and injured 34 last Saturday, a day that saw 7 mass shootings.

That’s 169 mass shootings in 111 days this year, including a school shooting that killed 7 people, including 3 children in Nashville, Tennessee three weeks ago.

Mass shootings are no super big deal in the US anymore. They’ve been normalized, like high gas prices. They’re just part of US life now, an almost routine part of our “condition,” like climate change. I half expect to learn about a new mass shooting somewhere in the US every time I turn on cable news.

I predicted 1 mass shooting and 28 shootings in the US on Easter Sunday. I was borne-out on the first prediction and fell absurdly short on the second prediction: there were 90 shootings. Not sure what I was thinking with just 28. A quick glance at the Gun Violence Archives shows that would have been very far below the norm.

The Easter mass shooting came late in the day, in Orlando, Florida. Louisville followed the next morning.

Mere shootings of just 1 to 3 individuals are barely even a story anymore. There has to be a twist now for a non-mass shooting to make the national news. This last week we’ve seen three such twists: a Black teenager who got shot by an 84-year-old white racist man in north Kansas City after the adolescent rang the octogenarian’s doorbell in a case of mistaken address; a 20-year old white woman shot to death in upstate New York by a 65-year-old white male lunatic after her boyfriend mistakenly pulled his car into the shooter’s driveway; two white female cheerleaders shot in Texas after one of them mistakenly tried to open some armed freak’s car.

Gun violence is now the leading killer of US children. The Republi-fascist Party and the neofascist National Rifle Association (NRA) have an interesting response to such madness: So what? More please! As the nation’s gun carnage peaks, the dark red Missouri House has just passed an NRA-sponsored bill that would permit guns in the state’s churches, synagogues, and buses. Two weeks ago, Florida governor Ron DeFascist signed an NRA-sponsored bill that lets anyone who can legally own a gun in his state carry without a permit. It means training and background checks are no longer required for people to carry concealed guns in public in Florida. And so it goes in other states, consistent with a Supreme Court’s ruling last summer that a New York law requiring a license to carry concealed weapons in public places was unconstitutional.

The mayor of Louisville and a Democratic Congressman from Louisville responded to the bank shooting (which killed a CEO friend of theirs) by begging the Republi-fascist-dominated Kentucky state government and the Republi-fascist-crippled US Congress to implement sane gun policies. Everybody knows that’s futile because of the Republicans’ captivity to the NRA.

The NRA just held its annual convention in Indianapolis, where the latest in mass-kill assault and home slaughter weaponry was on display and panelists held forth on how to get yet more guns into Americans’ hands, residences, and militias. More bloodshed more carnage, please.

The NRA hosted Donald “Take Down the Metal Detectors” Trump. Mr. “I will be Your Retribution” explained that the nation’s gun violence has nothing to with its insane firearms saturation and everything to do with urban “thugs” (a clear dog whistle for Black and brown people) who are “coddled” by the supposedly “radical Left” Democrats and against whom “real Americans” (meaning white heartland volk and suburbanites) need to arm themselves.

I get tired of the guns vs. mental health debate on gun violence. Of course it’s supremely dangerous for the US to have 125 firearms loose for every 100 people in the country. The next closest ratio is The Falkland Islands at 74 per 100! And yes, many other countries have mental health problems that don’t turn into mass homicidal gun slaughter. But it’s pretty damn mentally ill to take an AR-15 or any other weapon to murder a bunch of your fellow human beings in bars, schools, banks, concerts, movie theaters, parking lots, stores, dance studios, churches, and so on.

Isn’t the real problem that this sick, demented, savagely unequal, atomizing and violence-worshipping capitalist-imperialist society and culture have produced intersecting and overlapping, mutually reinforcing crises of over-arming and mental and moral madness leading to a frankly predictable consequence?

Fascism, I say? Oh indeed. Let’s acknowledge something unpleasant about why the NRA-allied Republi-fascist Party steadfastly oppose elementary gun control measures even as the nation experiences one mass shooting after another. Let’s say what we know or ought to know out loud: the nation’s rightmost major party is now a socially, racially, and politically eliminationist, neofascist formation that embraces the rule of men over the rule of law. It channels and contains white-supremacist genocidal tendencies and sensibilities. As such, it leaders are happy about the fact that its adherents possess a wildly disproportionate share of the insane number of firearms and especially of the military style weaponry that is out and about in the US-American Armed Madhouse. It is pleased with the private arms status quo as it applauds demented politicos including a putschist ex-president who fascistically and absurdly call their corporate Democratic opponents “radical Left animals” and who speak in open terms about bloody “vengeance” and “Civil War.”’

Two weeks ago, as the vicious Christian white nationalists in charge of the Tennessee House of Representatives prepared to expel two young Black state legislators for breaking “decorum” rules by joining protests for gun reform in the wake of a Nashville school shooting, young people in the gallery above the legislative chamber started chanting “fascists, fascists!”  And why not?  The NRA-owned Tennessee Republicans’ move to cancel democratically elected Black legislators, cancelling the votes of those representatives’ predominantly Black constituents in Memphis and Nashville, was chillingly racist and richly authoritarian. It was a brazen act of racial and political eliminationism.

The NRA has aimed not-so veiled assassination threats at liberal politicians, journalists, and celebrities,

If it walks like a duck and sounds like a duck….

Speaking of which, Trump has applauded and hosted the teen fascist Kyle Rittenhouse, who killed two Black Lives Matter protesters with an illegally owned AR-15 in August of 2020. Never forget that Trump went to Kenosha, Wisconsin, the site notorious for Rittenhouse’s fascist butchery, on the final night of the 2020 presidential campaign. Think that might have been a message about Trumpist-fascist havoc to come?

One year later, Trump invited the freshly and absurdly exonerated Rittenhouse for a sit down at Mar-a-Lago, proclaiming the adolescent slayer “ a nice young man” who shouldn’t have had to go through a trial for, you know, using an illegally owned assault weapon to kill two people at a march against racist police brutality.

Never forget that Donald “Take the F’ng Mags Away” Trump had a tantrum calling for government metal detectors to be taken down so that fascist paramilitaries could bring their AR-15s to the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol. “They don’t want to hurt me,” Trump explained. Imagine the carnage that might have ensued if Trump had had his way.

And check this out now a year and a half after Rittenhouse walked. We learned recently that Texas’ Republi-fascist governor Greg Abbott intends to pardon a fascist killer named Daniel Perry within days of Perry’s jury conviction for having shot to death a BLM protester in Austin, Texas in July of 2020. As the Austin-American Statesman reports:

“Perry, an Army sergeant, was working as an Uber driver in Austin on the night of July 25, 2020, when he ran a red light at the intersection of Fourth Street and Congress Avenue and drove into a Black Lives Matter march before stopping.…Prosecutors [successfully] contended that Perry instigated what happened. They highlighted a series of social media posts and Facebook messages in which Perry made statements that they said indicated his state of mind, such as he might ‘kill a few people on my way to work. They are rioting outside my apartment complex.’ A friend responded, ‘Can you legally do so?’ Perry replied, ‘If they attack me or try to pull me out of my car then yes.’ …A jury Friday unanimously convicted Perry.  State District Judge Clifford Brown is set to sentence him to prison in the coming days. He faces up to life in prison…David Wahlberg, a former Travis County criminal court judge, said he cannot think of another example in the state’s history when a governor sought a pardon before a verdict was formally appealed. ‘I think it’s outrageously presumptuous for someone to make a judgment about the verdict of 12 unanimous jurors without actually hearing the evidence in person,’ Wahlberg said” (emphasis added)

The Austin-American Statesman elaborates:

“Less than 24 hours after a jury in Austin found Daniel Perry guilty of shooting to death a protester, Gov. Greg Abbott announced on social media Saturday that he would pardon the convicted killer as soon as a request ‘hits my desk.’  The unprecedented effort, which Abbott announced to his 1 million followers on Twitter, came as Abbott faced growing calls from national conservative figures such as Fox News host Tucker Carlson and Kyle Rittenhouse, who was acquitted in the shooting deaths of two Wisconsin protesters in 2020, to act to urgently undo the conviction” (emphasis added).

How despicable. It’s not just the pardon itself.  It’s the advance promise of a pardon before the killer’s lawyers even appealed – a pledge to pardon as soon as possible without even reviewing the evidence.

Abbott’s purported legal basis for pardoning Perry is Texas’ NRA-sponsored “Stand Your Ground” bill, which permits the no-retreat use of deadly force if one is attacked.  The killer claimed that his victim raised a weapon at him before he shot but the obvious fact presented by numerous eyewitnesses was that Perry totally instigated the confrontation. That’s not “standing your ground.”

If it walks like a fascist duck and sounds like a fascist duck…

We might want to get serious about what we’re up against in this country.

In the meantime, the notion that the Armed Madhouse USA has anything to say to any other nations or people on how to organize and live their lives is laughable and not just because of the insane level of gun violence.

Paul Street’s latest book is This Happened Here: Amerikaners, Neoliberals, and the Trumping of America (London: Routledge, 2022).