Everyone sensible recognizes the attributes of the fedpost. “I’m tired of men who are all talk and no action, what are we doing to WIN the FIGHT?” says the bosomy avatar of some secret police goon. “Hey who has bought one of these Chinese Glock sears, do they work?” says the zero-post forum member with a III%er logo and a federal pension. “What kinda guns you bringing to the protest in case we have to shoot our way out? Lemme show you my AK so you Know I’m For Real” – name omitted on that one.
More moderately, you have things like this (imagine being a colonel sent to pacify an area where they do this for fun!) and this. What I’m talking about are one-way enthusiastic documentation of exploits that may or may not be well advised, but solicit nothing: the guntwitter shitpost, the /k/ post, the ever informative “Let’s see how many inches of hardened steel an Accelerator sabot punches thru” video.
And on the far end, deep into the respectability zone, lie your vanilla gunposts. “What’s the best value AR that doesn’t suck?”. “A review of PPU Match .223”. “What kinds of drills can I do in an indoor range that hates fun?”. It borders on vulgar consumerism at times, but that is almost precisely the point. Guns are safe, legal, fun, and common, even in hellholes like California (although they do tend to look goofier there). So is gun content.
I am by no means attempting to play down the apprehension that happens on the dissident right when people start hypothesizing in unsafe ways, or the general social apprehension when someone starts behaving erratically in a way that draws attention to their friends. As far as I know, though, no one in the USA has received a knock on the door from reading the equivalent of American Rifleman, even one of the issues where Wayne has had his go-off juice, or watching excessively technically detailed YouTube vids. Brits, sorry, I don’t know what to tell you.
An artifact of the time when there was evidently zero apprehension of any kind is the Gun Fag Manifesto. Let’s take a trip down memory lane to the heady years of the early 90s, pre Oklahoma City, post Reagan and Bush betrayals on gun rights, pre internet and associated ethos of “this is going on your Permanent Record”, post formation of a genuine Gun Culture in the US increasingly concerned that an out of control federal government intended to Waco as many kulaks as they could get their hands on.
Mixed in with reviews of various firearms is full throated advocacy of cough robust political action, a description of an epic boar hunt in Central California replete with drunkenness and petty vandalism, ALLCAPS stream of consciousness, and borderline deranged propaganda:
Now these are shitposts; a dead-tree /k/ from the early 90s. We’ll refrain from anything so magnificent, but it’s appropriate to admire the spirit of a writer who grasps the nettle, loads it with tannerite, and detonates it from barely 100 feet away.
The contrast with the far more cautious gun culture of today is obvious (and in fairness this was a photocopied, low-circulation zine – it’s not a good extrapolation to label it as representative of the main strain of thought at the time). We have good reasons for that shift, but the risk is losing the ethos of aggressive use of the broadest extent of one’s rights – something you can only take to its logical conclusion by actually enforcing non-suppression of “bad” use of those rights. The parallel with the optics debate is also obvious.
The major difference between the two situations isn’t tactical (a debate about what “makes one look bad” in either case) but technical (how much does “looking bad” actually matter?). Every American gun is a durable political entity, in the sense that it is latent political force. Collections of men that are able to use arms in concert are such an inherently political entity that they are arguably the root of the word itself (what is a “polis” but a group of hoplites?). The payoff to arming a man, or seeing him become proficient in the use of arms, is arguably higher than the payoff to convincing him – there are innumerable ways to convince him back in the latter case, but the act of disarmament requires boots on the ground. Empirically, people are far slower to give up their guns than their political beliefs.
This gets recursive, because of course no one is getting conscripted anymore – one must be convinced that arming oneself is a good idea. It doesn’t hurt, in that case, to make it apparent how much fun guns are. In this regard, “The Gun Fag Manifesto” is a raging success.