Just in the time for the festive and joyous Christmas season, U.S. Representatives Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Lauren Boebert (R-CO) sent out holiday greetings with full-color photos of themselves and family members toting semiautomatic military-grade killing machines in front of beautifully decorated pine trees.
In the photos, Massie is seated on a couch surrounded by six family members with the caption: “Santa, please bring more ammo.” Boebert, who declared she became “born again” as a Christian in 2009, is depicted with her four young sons ranging in age from what appears to be approximately 6 to 15 years of age.
Both of these representatives shot and released their holiday photos in the wake of a deadly school shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan that killed four students and injured seven others including one teacher.
This sort of firearms mania, however, has not been limited to two current wingnuts in Congress. Politicians on all sides of the aisle have toted pistols and semiautomatic long rifles in campaign ads.
- Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), for example, used an AK-15 in a 2015 campaign ad; he aimed and shot at stacked boxes containing the IRS tax code.
- Will Brooke (R-AL), as Alabama 6th District 2014 candidate, deployed a variety of firearms and blasted away at a wooden box packed with a copy of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
- Dan Sullivan (R-AK), running for Alaska Senator in 2014 in his campaign ad shot a television from a small pedestal representing what he intended to do with the enormous funding going into campaign advertising in Washington, DC by special interest groups.
- Rob Wallace (D-OK), in his congressional primary campaign ad, shot a water cooler with a picture of Texas taped to it referring to the water disputes between Oklahoma and Texas in which Texas was attempting to use an old water agreement to divert Oklahoma water to the bustling Dallas region.
An additional list of politicians toting and shooting firearms in campaign ads is extensive, and includes, among others, Joe Manchin (D-KY), Pamela Gorman (R-AZ), John McMillan (R-AL), and Dale Peterson (R- AL).
Politicians, many of who are bought and sold by the firearms industry, are not the only promoters of the deadly culture of guns in the United States. Several privately-owned commercial capitalist enterprises contribute to this toxicity.
Peace, War & God Wills It
Spike’s Tactical shop of Apopka, Florida, for example, began marketing its special AR-15 assault rifle, which company spokesperson, former Navy SEAL Ben “Mookie” Thomas, claims was “designed to never be used by Muslim terrorists,” as the shop’s never-ending battle in the Christian Crusades.
On one side of the rifle, shop employees laser-etched the Knights Templar Long Cross of the original Crusaders when they marched to reclaim the Holy Land from Muslims in 1099 CE. On the other side, they engraved Psalm 144:1:
“Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.”
Called “The Crusader,” the rifle includes a three-setting trigger safety control branded “Peace,” “War,” and “God Wills It.”
In another installment in the booming and explosive gun culture, by 2015, Bergeron’s Restaurant in Louisiana, billing itself as the home of “God, Gumbo, and Guns,” offers a 10% discount to any customer who brings a gun with them to lunch or dinner.
Says restaurant owner Kevin Cox, “Show it to me out of your purse, out of your back pocket….Show that you have one so if something goes wrong here today, I know you’re here to protect me.”
Cox criticizes gun-free businesses like Chipotle and Target.
“You make a gun-free zone,” he argued, “that’s where bad people with guns are going to go. Dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”
Since instituting the discount, business has increased approximately 25% alone in 2015.
Giving new meaning to the term “hunting for a wife,” the Jewelry by Harold owner in North Liberty, Iowa gave a husband-to-be a voucher for a new Remington 870 rifle with the purchase of an engagement ring priced at $1,999 or higher.
Shop owner Harold van Beek stated, “So say: I’m hunting deer, and here is a diamond ring, dear.”
To apply for this “deal,” one must be eligible to own a gun in Iowa, and not have been convicted of a felony.
In its attempt to pull in shoppers a couple of years ago on Black Friday, the camping and outdoors superstore Cabela’s handed out envelopes to the first 800 people over the age of 18 who lined up in front of its stores before 5:00 a.m. for a chance to win a Browning A-Bolt Medallion .300 WSM rifle with a Cabela’s 50th anniversary gun case worth $875.
And maybe it’s not too late to go down to Nations Truck Sales in Sanford, Florida where a few years ago they offered each customer a brand spanking new assault rifle with the purchase of a truck. Stated General Sales Manager, Nick Ginetta: “We started on Veterans Day. Hey, so many have given so much for this right!”
I’ve heard about people being shot from cannons, but for those who want to remain active hunters well after they have “bought the farm,” now their wishes have come true. Be the first on your block to kill long after you have died. For the sum of only $1250, your loved ones can have you cremated with a pound of your ashes stuffed inside genuine bullets, resurrecting you as live ammunition.
For that measly sum, you can metamorphose as 250 shotshells, 100 rifles cartridges, or 250 pistol cartridges. For only $100 extra, until you come alive again as a killing apparatus, your bullet ashes can rest in peace in a decorative wooden coffin-like box.
The company, Holy Smoke Bullet Urns of Stockton, Alabama, has taken quite literally Shylock’s claim in Shakespeare’s 1596 Merchant of Venice: “The pound of flesh which I demand of him is deerely bought, ‘tis mine, and I will have it.”
According to the company’s cofounder, Clem Parnell, “You know I’ve thought about this for some time and I want to be cremated. Then I want my ashes put into some turkey load shotgun shells and have someone that knows how to turkey hunt use the shotgun shells with my ashes to shoot a turkey. That way I will rest in peace knowing that the last thing that one turkey will see is me, screaming at him at about 900 feet per second.”
And just in time for the holiday season, in 2011, the Scottsdale, Arizona gun club offered its members the service of sending out their Christmas cards with family members, including infants, posing with Santa while holding pistols and military grade automatic weapons, fa la la la la, la la la la. Joy to the world?
I would ask, though, have so many in fact given so much for the right for us to turn our bodies literally into killing devices or for the right to own a “free” assault or hunting rifle? Do we really want “the last thing that one turkey will see is me, screaming at him at about 900 feet per second?” Do residents of our nation really need so many guns, assault rifles, and others?
Certainly, politicians and commercial ventures like Bergeron’s, Jewelry by Harold, Cabela’s, Holy Smoke Bullet Urns, Nation’s Truck Sales, and gun clubs hold the constitutional right to market their devices of death, but what type of messages are they communicating?
Are we really “free” as a society when our right “to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”?