Lying to themselves

Published March 30, 2023

By Thomas Mills

Yesterday, the state senate voted to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of a bill end pistol permits. This morning, the state house will likely do the same. The bill will become law and we’ll have one less tool to keep guns out of the hands of disturbed and dangerous people. As guns have become the number one killer of children, the GOP is making sure that we are at greater risk. 

Throughout the debate, Republicans have been claiming that the pistol permit law is a relic of Jim Crow. They claim the law was meant to keep guns out of the hands of Black citizens so they couldn’t protect themselves from vigilantes. The whole argument is bullshit, based on a false reading of history. 

The debate highlights so much that is wrong with the modern GOP. They have no sense of history. Former Republican house Majority Leader Skip Stam laid out the history of gun control in the country and it began before we were even a nation. The pistol permit law was put in place to help curb gun violence, not keep African Americans unarmed. But modern Republicans aren’t going to let facts get in their way. 

The goal of Republicans is to control the narrative of history by obscuring facts that contradict their ideology. In GOP world, pistol permits were racist. If they say it long enough, it becomes true. They know that because we spent more than a hundred years calling traitors heroes. We’ve never reckoned with the real costs and impacts of slavery because the reactionaries that today control the Republican Party don’t want us to. 

The GOP also lives under delusions that guns make us safer. I don’t think they really believe it, but they keep repeating it. Today, guns are the leading cause of death among children in this country. The North Carolina Legislature just made it easier for people with mental illness and histories of violence to purchase pistols. We are less safe, not more safe, but that truth is irrelevant.

The GOP is a party that lies to its base. Of course, the base sucks up those lies. They’ve got a whole media environment that protects them from the truth and allows them to live in an America that doesn’t really exist.

In their world, guns make us safer. Voter fraud is huge a problem. Tax cuts for the rich trickle down to the working class. Christianity is under assault. White people are victims of discrimination. Immigrants are taking our jobs. Drag queens are threatening our children. Vaccines are more of a threat than diseases. The pandemic was a hoax. The election was stolen. 

The common threads are victimization and race. The GOP is an almost all White party that lacks the ability to see that different backgrounds and experiences result in different perspectives. People are coming for their guns which threatens their safety. Illegal immigrants are voting which threatens their power. Vaccine mandates threaten their liberty. And on and on. 

The America in which these reactionaries live exists only in the world of Fox News, talk radio, and the fever dreams of social media creations like Charlie Kirk. They live in fear. Everyone is out to get them and nobody is out to protect them. They will tolerate Sandy Hook shootings and teen suicides to protect unfettered access to guns and they’ll tell themselves that they are ending relics of Jim Crow. It’s not just that they are believing the lies. It’s that they are lying to themselves.