How Gun Culture and the Government Fell Back in Love

How Gun Culture and the Government Fell Back in Love

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter. “The criminal element is out in our community. We do see that on the news every single day.” That’s Ed O’Carroll talking. He’s appearing at the outset of a promotional video for the National Rifle Association’s “award-winning crime prevention program,” Refuse to be a Victim . Geared toward helping people identify potential threats to their safety—from would-be burglars to rapists—the program has offered thousands of seminars nationwide since 1993. As they tell it, Refuse to be a Victim was founded at the request of NRA members and staffers who were concerned about the uptick in violent crime in America, particularly against women. Though both men and women attend the program seminars, the gendered threat is central to the promotional video. Clips that could be ripped from the editing bays of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit show white women being trailed by shadowy figures, dressed in black and presumably looking to do them harm. The implicit suggestion of racial difference can hardly be viewed as innocent, and indeed, the overwhelming whiteness of the video is startling. When O’Carroll makes repeated reference to “our community,” it is not a stretch to assume that few people of color reside there. By participating in one of the hundreds of training sessions the program puts on every year, you can learn about threats that go far beyond walking alone through dark alleys: Don’t keep your […]

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