Joe the Plumber (Samuel Wurzelbacher) channeled his inner Jared Loughner this week by declaring on his web site that the most important reason for having guns is to hunt down politicians. On his Joe for America web page, he gave a list of reasons for why guns are needed, ending with this commentary:
And – this is the most important one:
Guns are mostly for hunting down politicians who would actively seek to take your freedoms and liberty away from you.
Now Joe the Plumber does not specify by name which politicians should be hunted down, although he does say to Google “Hitler, Mao, Kim Jung Il, Castro [and] Stalin” just for starters. His defenders may argue that his comments would only apply to tyrannical dictators, but the fact is Joe the Plumber is talking about guns in America, so it stands to reason that the politicians he thinks need to be hunted down are American politicians.
This sort of insurrectionist rhetoric has become all too familiar in the modern pro-gun movement in the United States. This is the very rhetoric that is used to justify political assassination attempts like Jared Loughner’s deranged attempt to murder Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in 2011.
Now, again, some defenders of Joe the Plumber may dismiss his comments as innocuous, saying that in context he is referring to shooting dictators not elected leaders. However, that would be overlooking Joe the Plumber’s view that Obama is acting as a lawless tyrant and a dictator. In that context, it is not much of a stretch to argue that Samuel Wurzelbacher is implicitly condoning hunting down the President of the United States. While Joe the Plumber probably has no intention of actually shooting a public official, his irresponsible rhetoric could embolden a mentally unstable right-winger to feel justified in shooting the President or another elected politician.
Right-wing defenders of unrestricted gun rights have long entertained delusions of fighting off government forces in an epic struggle for liberty. In their absurd guerrilla fantasies, they draw analogies between modern America and Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia to validate their insurrectionist paranoia and to paint themselves as defenders of freedom. However, when people like Joe the Plumber argue that the purpose for having guns is to hunt down democratically elected politicians, it is he and his followers that are the greatest threat to our freedom, rather than the politicians he believes should be targeted for assassination.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.