On the Persistent Myths of the NRA and the Potential for Pandemic Violence
Frank Smyth in Conversation with Andrew Keen on the Keen On
The coronavirus pandemic is dramatically disrupting not only our daily lives but society itself. This show features conversations with some of the world’s leading thinkers and writers about the deeper economic, political, and technological consequences of the pandemic. It’s our new daily podcast trying to make longterm sense out of the chaos of today’s global crisis.
On today’s episode, Frank Smyth, global authority on journalist security and press freedom and author of The NRA: The Unauthorized History, discusses gun violence during the pandemic.
From the episode:
Andrew Keen: Is this absence of mass killings good for the NRA?
Frank Smyth: What’s good for the NRA, Andrew, is the fact that Covid-19 seems to have validated the ideology, which is faith-based largely, on myths that the NRA has been promoting now for more than four decades. The notion that you need a gun, because there may be times when the government is not there to protect you, which is what a lot of gun activists in the United States now believe. The notion that you also need a gun to be able to defend yourself against your own government collectively to prevent the imposition of some sort of tyranny. This is something that has really escalated some of the groups that you’ve seen protesting in Lansing, Michigan, and other states, many of them are affiliated with various groups that call themselves “Three Percenters,” named after the alleged three percent of militia Minutemen who fought in the Revolutionary War back in late 1700s. These groups are starting to talk about the need to attack people that are threatening their Second Amendment rights or having discussions about whether or not that is justified.
So the fact that we haven’t seen any mass killings during the pandemic is, of course, a good thing, but I’m afraid that as things open up, as the tension that’s been building now continues to escalate, we may see more armed confrontations as well as potential violent attacks in the future, because this has also riled up a lot of lone wolves out there who we’re starting to see more enemies than they even saw before.
Frank Smyth is an independent, award-winning investigative journalist specializing in armed conflicts, organized crime and human rights overseas, and on the gun movement and its influence at home. He is a former arms trafficking investigator for Human Rights Watch breaking the role of France in arming Rwanda before its genocide. Smyth is a global authority on journalist security and press freedom having testified to Congress and member states of several multilateral organizations.