What does the exercise of one’s second amendment rights have in common with outrage at a stay-at-home order during a pandemic? At first thought, we might say, “absolutely nothing.” To a Trump supporter, however, demonstrating the right to bear arms (big, heavy, semiautomatic combat arms—lots of them) logically goes hand-in-hand with demanding the right to take to the streets unprotected while a highly contagious virus is about because “we just want to go back to work, be able to shop again, go to the hair salon again.”
That these protesters took the opportunity to bring out their collections of assault weapons can be explained by the fact that there is evidence that the protests were organized by several right-wing gun rights organizations. Again, the rest of us are still trying to figure out why they made the connection between governors’ public health-motivated stay-at-home orders and the perception that the governors were trampling on their gun rights.
We can’t completely fault Trump’s base for this logic leap, however. It is, after all, modeled after the type of logic Donald Trump himself gets away with when making or justifying a move.
In the past week, protesters, many of whom arrived at statehouses in Minnesota, Ohio, Virginia, and Michigan decked out for combat and wielding signs (some of them anti-semitic, but that’s an ugly logic leap too complex for this piece), mobilized against the social distancing orders put in place by the governors of those states to try to slow the spread of the potentially deadly coronavirus. The governors were heeding the guidelines laid out by Trump’s own White House Coronavirus Task Force. The guidelines were, in fact, titled “The President’s Coronavirus Guidelines For America.”
Donald Trump himself had urged Americans to follow those guidelines for the sake of the country.
“Our future is in our own hands, and the choices and sacrifices we make will determine the fate of this virus and, really, the fate of our victory. We will have a great victory. We have no other choice,” Trump said on March 30. “Every one of us has a role to play in winning this war. Every citizen, family, and business can make the difference in stopping the virus. This is our shared patriotic duty.”
Yet over the past week, as protesters organized to protest the measures (blaming them on the governors, not Trump), Trump followed up by encouraging them to defy the social distancing measures. Yes, the ones his own administration had put into place.“LIBERATE MINNESOTA,” Trump tweeted, followed by “LIBERATE MICHIGAN.” (“Liberate,” we must assume, refers to liberating his base from their imaginary incarceration as prisoners of some sort of imaginary war.)Trump’s base was already conflating the governors’ efforts to protect them from contracting or spreading a potentially deadly disease with “tyranny.” And who could blame them, really? Trump supporters are a little touchy about the encroachment of government, except when it serves them.Trump, eager to get the economy going again, while not wanting to take responsibility for the many deaths that would surely result from opening the country up prematurely, saw the perfect opportunity: Blame it on the people. Encourage them to protest the lockdowns, then step in and grant their wishes to open up the country. Despite any ensuing public health disasters, the base would be happy that Trump was looking out for them and got them back to work the stores, and the salons, and Trump could say that despite the fact that he had seen disaster coming, he had done what “the people” wanted.
“LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!” Trump tweeted later.
Not only should the Trump base defy their tyrannical governors, encouraged Trump, they should exercise their second-amendment rights—a mating call for Trump supporters if ever there was one.
Was it concerning to anyone on the right that President Trump’s promotion of armed “liberation” of states by invoking protestors’ Second Amendment ”rights” could be seen as a coded call for armed insurrection?
Probably not, since the Second Amendment, as they interpret it, appears to be the most important part of the Constitution to many who live in Trumpworld. And since “my personal freedom, no matter what” appears to be their interpretation of the rest of the Constitution, perhaps the logical leap for them is that any perceived violation of personal freedom also means “they want to take away our guns.”
Donald Trump backs COVID-19 lockdown protesters after calling for states to be liberated | The Sun [2020-04-17]
Armed protesters demand an end to Michigan’s coronavirus lockdown orders [2020-04-16]