Never ones to let a crisis go by these days, the left is still busy capitalizing on the Newton, CT shooting with a multi-layered collection of just the right memes.
Guns out of control: check.
When Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday, December 14, inexplicably bent on ending as many lives as possible, he was carrying a Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle and several high-capacity magazines. Sadly, this isn’t the first time the country has had to deal with the aftermath of a horrific shooting spree, nor is it the first time we’ve encountered an AR-15 in this context: only days earlier, it was the weapon of choice for a shooting at an Oregon mall that killed two people. Five months earlier, it was used by James Holmes in an attack that wounded fifty-eight people and killed twelve in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater. And several years before that, a man and his teenage accomplice used a Bushmaster AR-15 to terrorize the Washington, DC, area with a series of random shootings.
The big, bad boogie-store, Walmart: check.
Although it is not yet clear where the Bushmaster AR-15 used by Lanza (and registered to his mother) was purchased, the model is familiar to many Walmart shoppers. It’s on sale at about 1,700 Walmart stores nationwide, though the retail chain pulled the weapon from its website early this afternoon.
The big-box chain at one point sold guns in only about a third of its stores, mainly in remote rural areas where hunting is popular. But in 2011, without much fanfare, Walmart expanded gun sales to half of its 3,982 stores nationwide, including those in more urban areas like Albuquerque and Spokane.
The expansion of gun sales at Walmart came after a five-year slowdown. In 2006, the chain announced that it was rolling gun sales back, citing declining profit margins on the relatively expensive weapons, which even at Walmart can retail for hundreds of dollars. But in 2011, company executives were looking at eight straight quarters of declining sales at stores open for a year or more—the worst slump in Walmart’s history.
Conservatives (which all gun-lovers are) have an irrational fear of our black president, Obama: check.
They must also have noticed that Barack Obama’s inauguration had sparked a rally in gun sales, which have steadily increased every year since 2008. The government isn’t allowed to track firearm sales, but the FBI does release figures on how many retailers ask it to run background checks—a relatively reliable indicator of total gun sales, although likely a lowball estimate, since a person can buy multiple guns on a single background check, and many gun shows aren’t required to perform such checks. In 2007, retailers asked the FBI for just over 11 million background checks; by the end of 2009, 14 million checks were requested—a 27 per- cent increase.
Gratuitously hyperbolic activist quote + Union promotion: check.
“This gun thing, it’s really just a nightmare,” says Bertha Lewis, president of the Black Institute, which has been organizing Walmart workers this year to protest wages and working conditions. Given its aggressive gun sales, Walmart’s logo “shouldn’t be a smiley face; it should be an automatic weapon,” she adds.
And the inevitable conclusion-by-clusterfuck-of-memes/bad-argument: check
Other anti-violence activists are disturbed by Walmart’s much-ballyhooed expansion into urban markets like Chicago, Washington, Los Angeles, Reno, Detroit and other cities. That, combined with the increased gun sales, could be a recipe for disaster.
The chain says it won’t sell guns at those stores—a condition of approval for a new Walmart in Washington, DC—but Bertha Lewis is wary. Even if that turns out to be true, the guns are likely to be sold at a Walmart somewhere else in the area. “Guns are a scourge in black and brown and low- and moderate-income communities,” Lewis says. “And here comes Walmart with Mr. Smiley Face: ‘Here, here’s a $5 sweater—and, oh, by the way, you can get this gun.’”
Lewis thinks the gun sales will soon be a new front in the activist campaign against Walmart. “You’re going to see it more and more and more as folks organize against Walmart,” she says. “One of their vulnerabilities is their stance on guns. Don’t try to sell me an apple and a gun at the same time. Don’t tell me that you’re trying to give fresh fruit and vegetables to people so that they can have a healthy life, and then you turn around and on the next counter you have instruments of death.”
OMG! URGENT! Walmart is opening their gun-selling stores in inner cities! Where black and brown people reside! We can’t allow that because of that, you know, “recipe for disaster.” Note: This reasoning cannot be construed as racist because of the profile of the speaker.
Geez, it’s all so formulaic in politics anymore. No wonder I’m bored. This is an open thread.