The NRA is sick of smug Australians. Every time a mass shooting happens in the United States (the only place mass shootings happen) some advocate of gun control points to Australia. The NRA are tired of us just sitting over here, accepting the congratulations, not missing our guns. They’ve responded by warning Australians: gun violence is coming; and without guns we have no chance of fighting it.
This line washes over Australians. Most of us never owned guns. Many Australians have lived long lives unprepared to fight off a surprise gun attack with a concealed AK-47. We’ve bet on fewer guns as our best defence. As Max Chalmers argues, facts suggest we bet right.
The NRA pitch works damn well in America though. As a dual US/Australian citizen I suspect this is because Americans are both more paranoid and more self-confident than Australians.
Gun rights advocates seem to believe both that gun crime is out of control, but provided they are armed they can repel any attack. Take the fear of home invasion, the risk of which is infinitesimally small. The NRA pushes the view that there is a real chance an American will burst into your home. However, they will be either unarmed or so slow witted, that you will have time to arm yourself and strike back.
Myself, I’m fairly confident that I’ll never stare down the barrel of a gun. Further, if I owned a gun, I’d probably be too clumsy to wrangle it in the middle of a confrontation. In all likelihood I’d probably have shot myself in the foot with it a month before, eliminating any hope of running for it.
Gun rights advocates known as “survivalists” epitomize this American mixture optimism and paranoia. These are people who are preparing for the end of the world. They’ve watched programs like The Walking Dead, read Stephen King’s Under the Dome, or attend an evangelical church that believes gay marriage is a sign of the end of days.
Survivalists do not intend to be caught unawares. They stockpile food. Live in mountain towns with fresh water streams. Attach solar panels to their roof. Not because of a misguided belief in anthropogenic climate change, that would be stupid. They need their own power source because Barack Obama may invade Texas.
It is not enough to have food, a bunker, and gold to trade in the post-currency economy. Firearms will be necessary to protect your fort from the fools who refused to prepare for the worst. Survivalists need to stop liberals taking guns today, to ensure liberals cannot redistribute their supplies tomorrow.
Survivalism in the United States is a multi-billion dollar industry. There is a real-estate market for survival properties, best-selling books, and expos. Yahoo finance estimates there are 3.7 million survivalists in the States. The popularity of survivalism is another reason to oppose gun control. Survivors in the post-apocalyptic world will not merely be picking off ill-prepared hipsters, but well-armed rivals. Assault rifles will be necessary for any family wanting to move into a nice post-apocalypse neighbourhood.
I am somewhat in awe of survivalists. I’m half-American so I’m a timid survivalist. I have enough tinned food in the cupboard to last five days, a bottle of water in the fridge, and enough battery on my laptop to watch movies for a week. However, if humanity does not make it back to its feet by the time I’m out of movies, I’m out.
By contrast, American survivalists believe they will make it well past week one. That they will survive disease and infection without modern medicine. That with a few days at the rifle club, their family will be able to indefinitely hold off bandits, police forces, or the US military. It’s admirable optimism from people who also believe mass extinction is highly likely.
Clearly survivalists do not drive the NRA, they are but one part of a movement made up of the arms industry, local hunters, and ideologues. However, it is the mixture of paranoia and optimism that the NRA pitches to.
This is all decidedly un-Australian. For us Mad Max is a film, not a documentary. Guns are for winning Olympics medals. Stockpiling beans to prepare for the end of the world makes you a weirdo. A bloke who thinks he’s prepared for Armageddon because he joined the rifle club is full of himself.
That’s why NRA’s “you need your gun” message does not resonate with us. If there is a disaster every Australian already has enough beer in the fridge. If disaster strikes, we can drink until the government gets a handle on it. If we run out, so be it.
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