Armed Political Violence a Sad and Predictable Outcome of the Toxic Mix of Guns, Vigilantism, Insurrectionism Provoked by Trump


August 30, 2020


Samantha Kupferman, West End Strategy Team; Cell: 202-215-9260


Armed Political Violence a Sad and Predictable Outcome of the Toxic Mix of Guns, Vigilantism, Insurrectionism Provoked by Trump

WASHINGTON – In the past week, America has seen frightening examples of armed political violence in communities across the country. These shootings are the result of Donald Trump mainstreaming the idea that the display (and now use) of private guns is an acceptable means of response to individuals with differing views, including on structural racism, police violence and even public health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, we have seen the tragic results of such irresponsible and dangerous behavior, again and again — armed violence in Charlottesville by Neo-Nazis “protecting” Confederate monuments, thousands of armed protesters showed up at the Virginia State Capitol in January to scare legislators away from supporting life-saving policies, hundreds of armed protesters storming state capitol buildings in Michigan and Idaho to intimidate lawmakers from enforcing public health measures to stop the spread of COVID-19; and self-declared “militias” countering protestors seeking justice after the police shootings of George Floyd and Jacob Blake. 

And now, predictably, those guns are coming out of holsters and being used to kill and maim.  

Joshua Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, said, “Dangerous chaos ensues when guns are added to volatile situations. In America today, guided by Donald Trump’s violent rhetoric and encouragement of untrained, unregulated, unprepared ‘militias,’ the gun culture has grown tragically out of hand. There are just too many guns out there, and too many people are too quick to use them, including law enforcement, ignoring the infectious nature the first shot fired can lead to.

“America must ask, why are we a nation where using arms is too often a first step, rather than the very last? Our president has failed to de-escalate and defuse violence, instead inciting and inflaming it. Massive change is critical to address the violence and its root causes.”

Horwitz is available for interviews. He is the author of Guns, Democracy, and the Insurrectionist Idea, which explores how extremist insurrectionist ideology has been promoted and mainstreamed by the National Rifle Association and its allies in the far-right movement and the consequences for our democracy. He is the executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, a non-partisan group working to end gun violence through a public health and equity lens. 

In a recent op-ed in the New York Daily News, Horwitz wrote:  

Citizens who for years have been told they needed to prepare for an overthrow of the government now very much believe it. And in President Trump, they have found their general. The threat of violence is a tool to silence his critics and achieve policy that the democratic process has denied him. During his time in office, Trump has shown little regard for the rule of law or our ideals of American democracy. His fondness for violent behavior has been well documented. … The president is directing a vigilante army through his Twitter feed and press conferences. … He tells them that they are under attack. These are not the actions of an American president, but of an authoritarian promoting the use of arms to achieve political goals that governors, state legislatures and conscientious public servants have denied him. That is the insurrectionist idea, and it is an idea that should be loudly rejected by members of all political stripes.

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About the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence

Founded in 1974, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence is the nation’s oldest gun violence prevention organization. We believe gun violence should be rare and abnormal. CSGV develops and advocates for evidence-based solutions to reduce gun injury and death in all its forms.

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