The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) was saddened to learn about today’s shooting tragedy at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Our thoughts and prayers at this time are with the family of the victim of the shooting.
The shooter in this incident, James W. von Brunn, was a convicted felon and a “hardcore Neo-Nazi” who believed that Western civilization was going to be replaced with a “ONE WORLD ILLUMINATI GOVERNMENT” that would “confiscate private weapons” in order to accomplish its goals. He was convicted of a felony in 1983 for bringing firearms into the Federal Reserve building in Washington, D.C., where he attempted to place federal officials under “citizen’s arrest.” Von Brunn is not the first shooter in the past year to embrace virulent, anti-government views. He joins a long list of violent insurrectionists, including Scott P. Roeder, who killed abortion provider Dr. George Tiller in Kansas on May 31; Neo-Nazi Richard Poplawski, who killed three police officers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in April; Joshua Cartwright, who killed two police officers in the Florida panhandle in April; and Jim Adkisson, who killed two parishioners at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in July 2008.
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence has repeatedly warned of the ascendancy of the insurrectionist idea, which was recently embraced by the Supreme Court in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller. We believe that this year’s string of shootings is not a series of random occurrences but part of a new, loosely-knit political movement characterized by the slogan “the guys with the guns make the rules.” This is an incredibly dangerous idea that has real consequences for our democracy and society.
What we are seeing play out in tragedies across our country is the mixing of the insurrectionist idea with increasingly weaker gun laws. In shooting after shooting, we have seen individuals disgruntled with government gain easy access to firearms despite criminal records and troubling mental health histories.
Josh Horwitz is the co-author of Guns, Democracy, and the Insurrectionist Idea, a new book published by the University of Michigan Press. For more information on the book, visit CSGV’s “Assault on Democracy” website.
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence seeks to secure freedom from gun violence through research, strategic engagement and effective policy advocacy. For more information about the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, visit www.csgv.org.