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Damn That Pesky Constitution: Eugene Weekly Edition

Today’s cover story in the Eugene Weekly purports to be a debunking of the gun rights lobby’s concerns about the incoming Obama Administration. The author, Rick Levin takes as his starting point a random, poorly written blog comment on in which the the poster claims to be scared of Barack Obama and insists that the NRA is deterring an “open attack” on America’s heartland. Having managed to dig up this unquestionably authoritative representation of gun rights advocates nationwide, Levin feels comfortable announcing that “likely it is just this breed of hysteria that has caused local and national gun sales to spike.”

Well, color me convinced.

But Levin isn’t satisfied by merely goring a barely-literate blog poster at Politico. After having his interview request flatly refused by local gun dealers (who’dve thunk it?), Levin decides to call up the NRA, whom he finally gets around to describing as racists (it took him until nearly the end of the first column on page 2, so he deserves some praise for holding himself off for so long):

 Black. White. Some folks don’t like those two to mix. There seems to be an underlying note of race and class panic in the NRA’s hyperventilated advocacy for unfettered gun rights… The organization’s arguments supporting the Second Amendment seem to hinge less on the potential of overthrowing some tyrannical government than their unspoken fear that law-abiding white folk need to be armed  —  to the teeth, no less  —  against some none-too-distant time when this country’s melting pot spills over, and all the Willie Hortons and the Morio Billings start rampaging around and rioting like the hoi-polloi madmen they are.

Nowhere, of course, does he provide any documentary evidence to support this laughable caricature… aside from… you know…  noting that the NRA opposes banning assault weapons. After totally discrediting the NRA and anything they have to say by dropping the racism bomb, Levin launches into a couple of paragraphs talking about how much guilty pleasure he got from shooting a glock and fucking his hand up because he wasn’t holding it right.

Oh, and there’s a couple of short paragraphs devoted to torturing some kind of heroin-esque love/hate relationship into a metaphor for America’s “pathological” addiction to firearms. He proves beyond the shadow of a doubt our collective “worship” of firearms by citing the “hoo-haw” and “Peckinpah-type laughing and back-slapping in the style of the Wild Bunch after a spume of unregenerate violence” that he and his “very nonviolent” chums engaged in after squeezing off a few rounds.

In any case, having exhausted the “NRA is a pack of racists” avenue and telling us all about the guilty thrills he got from firing a Glock (“the high-powered stuff”), Levin decides to talk to an actual, real-life NRA member!! Except he couldn’t find one, so instead he interviews a disgruntled ex-NRA member who felt like the NRA was too political.

Much to the relief of civil liberties lawyers across the country, Rick Levin also takes the time to settle once and for all the thorny legal debates over the Second Amendment by pointing out that “the 8-year-old kid who vaporized his head with an Uzi at a gun show” and Mark David Chapman weren’t part of a “well-regulated militia”.

Game. Set. Match.

But never fear, gun owners! You see Levin isn’t

 talking about all the hunters and marksmen and other gun owners out there raised around guns and taught to respect them as the killing machines they are. Those are the kind of people who join the American Hunters & Shooters Association, which endorsed Obama…

What I’m talking about are the nut cases who seem to believe an Armageddon of criminals and crackheads and cutthroats will one day try to beat down their doors and take everything they have, including their lives.

In the final tally, the NRA’s pimping for gun rights is no more about the Second Amendment than the right-to-lifers’ vitriol is about saving the lives of unborn fetuses. What’s really at stake for these folks is the erosion of a mythology that has propped and buttressed their power through a combination of hyperbole, end-days religious hysteria and McCarthyite baiting that makes about as much sense as Chicken Little running around squawking that the sky is falling. 

If you’re a responsible gun owner, you’ve already joined the American Hunters & Shooters Association, which has already endorsed Barack Obama! If you’re part of the NRA, you’re a racist, end-of-days religious McCarthyite nut.

Curiously, and aside from engaging in some by-the-numbers discussion of Obama’s nuance and thoughtfulness about the complexity of the 2nd Amendment debate, Obama’s actual views on guns and gun control laws are scarcely mentioned in an article subtitled “Obama, the NRA and Gun Hysteria”. We’re told that Obama upheld the law in a town with a total ban on firearms, but whether or not Obama agreed with the law is never mentioned.

We’re also assured that, as long as we’re not frothing right-wing nutjobs convinced that “Obama is a lying sack of Illinois liberalism who is going to take the oath of office and immediately legalize gay marriage and overtax your unborn grandchildren, it’s pretty nuts to believe he’s going to take away your guns.” Such strawmen seem to exist mostly the “progressive” stereotypes (and in the comments section of, it seems), but in reality, most people with concerns about Obama’s gun control philosophies are markedly more thoughtful.

Levin writes:  “If the last eight years have taught us anything, it’s that facts don’t mean shit. What counts are beliefs.” Reading through this article, it’s clear Levin has taken that lesson to heart.


In other civil liberties news, Alan Pittman has a small piece in today’s Eugene Weekly entitled “Hate Speech Legalities“. In it, he documents efforts by the Eugene City Council to “[strengthen] laws against hate speech.” To his chagrin, he finds that “legal options are limited”, due in large part to those always-irritating “free speech protections”, “limits to city jurisdiction”, and an Oregon Supreme Court ruling that says laws prohibiting “verbal harassment” without the threat of violence violated the Constitution.

Not content to let reactionary Supreme Court judges and the white imperialist, slave-owning drafters of the First Amendment stymie the inevitable march of Progress, the City of Eugene is considering other ways of controlling free expression. It’s already voted to begin work to “create the new offense” (a revealing choice of words) of “Intimidation III”, which only differs from “Intimidation II” in that it would no longer require threats of “serious” physical harm to charge someone with the crime. Additionally, the city is mulling over making penalties for crimes with a “hate element” more harsh. And we all know who’ll be deciding what counts as “hate” and what’s just “passionate,” don’t we?

  1. […] Weekly readers to a pointless and largely uninformed anti-gun diatribe (covered by the Commentator here and here), has decided to grace his critics with a reply in the latest edition of the […]

  2. Antovich says:


  3. Johnny Delashaw says:

    Up late studying my friend, needed a break…you didn’t like them?

  4. Drew says:

    Was johnny stoned or drunk at 2 30 in the morningg posting youtube vids on this thread?

  5. Ohio says:

    Knowledge, combined with work, that produces something of value is what counts.

    Rick Levin

  6. […] I salute those who are still unafraid to engage: After having his interview request flatly refused by local gun dealers (who

  7. nightrider says:

    Levin dismisses the NRA for only having 4 million members, (“not very many”) then heaps praise on AHSA which is a propaganda arm of the Brady Center used to promote gun bans. ASHA claims to have 168 members, so how can 4 million be so insignificant?

  8. Johnny Delashaw says:

    Oh and this too:

    B roy, sorry, I dont post much, just wanted to share these vids.

  9. Johnny Delashaw says:


    Great song, watch it.

  10. Chris says:

    There may be a legitimate argument in there somewhere, but I can’t seem to find it. Even the ODE editors would have noticed tha…..ahh hell, had to catch myself there.

    Seriously though, it reads like a mish-mash of incoherent thought. I hesitate to call it an opinion because (as I noted above) I can’t figure out what it is. Granted the analysis above has some great points, and I think that part of the problem is that Levin’s personal ‘thoughts’ on the matter are liberally intertwined (no pun intended) in the piece to the point that you get to the aforementioned…’huh?’ moment.

    I always like the argument that the world would be a more peaceful place without firearms. Hasn’t someone…somewhere…done the numbers on pre-firearm violent death and post-firearm violent death and then broken it down further to make a reasonable statement about such a statistic?

    As for this “Intimidation III” business….ay ay ay. Seems like EPD and Eugene are really trying to find new revenue streams since they’ve shut out business opportunities or forced them to move to Springfield to make money, contribute to the local economy, provide jobs and generally help the city to grow and improve.

    I think that the perfect merging of these two lines of thought (Guns and “Intimidation III”) can be found here.

  11. Vincent says:

    Actually, wait. Those are the Eugene Weekly’s standards.

  12. Vincent says:

    Yeah. I mean, I don’t usually turn to the Eugene Weekly for informed or insightful commentary about the 2nd Amendment, but Rick Levin’s article was pretty wretched even by the Weekly’s standards.

    It didn’t amount to much more than a bunch of pointless anecdotes glued together by some boilerplate progressive rubbish about racism, “glorification” of guns in the media, religion, and McCarthyism.

  13. Gsim says:

    This dude lives in fantasy land: “Imagine the history of the world minus projectile weapons.”

    He should read a history book. Yeah, life was so great back in the day when groups of large strong men were able to bully, control and hurt others with little fear or retribution.

    Reminds me of something I saw stenciled into the side of a handgun:

    Fear no man of any size,
    call on me –
    I will equalize.

    The dumb ass should go check out Africa. Believe it or not you can still do terrible shit with just a machete. Just google Sierra Leone machete and look at all those poor bastards without legs, hands and arms.

  14. Vincent says:


  15. CJ Ciaramella says:


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