Why Police Back Gun Guys

Why Police Back Gun Guys

A new book shows how the NRA forged an alliance between cops and civilian gun owners. Three years since Charlottesville, armed clashes at street protests over racial justice are still a defining feature of American politics, but the constellation of participants has changed. The white supremacists who paraded in fascist sword-and-sandals kitsch with homemade shields and spears have sharply receded. But the paramilitaries who showed up that August claiming to be neutral security are now represented in greater numbers. Nazis are out, patriots are in. And while cops sat on the sidelines in Charlottesville, they have welcomed “good guys with guns” to buttress “law and order” as they brutally suppress this year’s eruption of social justice protest, even though time and time again, the militias and armed citizens have provoked rather than deterred violence. Policing the Second Amendment: Guns, Law Enforcement, and the Politics of Raceby Jennifer Carlson Buy on Bookshop Princeton University Press, 280 pp., $29.95 A new book from University of Arizona sociologist Jennifer Carlson goes a long way to explaining why. Drawing on interviews with 80 police chiefs, Policing the Second Amendment illuminates how central guns are to the ideology of police. Firearms carriers, including police, Carlson argues, believe that guns don’t merely offer personal protection: The weapons produce a larger social order, enforcing the boundary between “good guys” and “bad guys.” Thus carrying a gun is a higher form of citizenship: a commitment to wield deadly force to protect fellow Americans, which Carlson likens to […]

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