Following the unfathomably tragic events in Las Vegas, many on the left are demanding that Congress pass new restrictions on guns. Such calls make even less sense than usual, given what much of the left already believes about the current political environment: that a fascist occupies the White House.
"Yes, Donald Trump is a fascist," wrote The New Republic's Jamil Smith. He said that in 2015, when Trump was still merely a primary challenger; associating Trump with fascism has grown only more common in the two years since.
"This is how fascism comes to America," wrote Robert Kagan, a former Republican, in a Washington Post piece widely shared last year on both the left and the NeverTrump right: "not with jackboots and salutes (although there have been salutes, and a whiff of violence) but with a television huckster, a phony billionaire, a textbook egomaniac 'tapping into' popular resentments and insecurities, and with an entire national political party—out of ambition or blind party loyalty, or simply out of fear—falling into line behind him."
"Trump's not Hitler," wrote Salon's Fedja Buric in 2016. But that was only because: "He's Mussolini." Buric's article is about "How GOP anti-intellectualism created a modern fascist movement in America."
The Daily Beast's Jay Michaelson held out until Trump pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio, at which point he declared, "at a certain point, 'fascist' becomes the most accurate term to describe what this man does....'Fascist' is not an incendiary slur—it is an accurate description."
Those are high-profile writers; grassroots activists have been less measured. The antifa movement, which for some reason thinks smashing windows and setting cars on fire is an effective form of resistance, regularly claims that Trump is a modern incarnation of Nazism. Left-leaning students and professors frequently accuse Trump of fascism; some have even maintained that members of Trump's Cabinet, like Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, are white supremacists by mere association.
Some of this, like that charge against DeVos, is absurd. But not all of the narrative is ridiculous. Fascist or not, Trump's incoherent ideology includes a mix of xenophobia, nationalism, protectionism, and worship of law enforcement. It's an awfully authoritarian brew.
Which brings us back to gun control, something countless liberal pundits and Democratic congresspeople are breathlessly demanding right now. How on earth could anyone believe both that Trump is a fascist and that it's a good idea for a federal government he runs to take guns away from law-abiding citizens? If Trump is a budding Mussolini—let alone something worse—then you shouldn't want to give him the power required to wage a war on guns. Keep in mind that many gun owners are people of color, who would be (and frequently have been) disproportionately affected by enforcement of new gun laws. Indeed, if Trump wanted to further damage immigrants and communities of color, eroding their rights and jailing their men, he could find no more powerful tool than a license to confiscate guns.
Don't normalize Trump's fascism. Don't demand a disarmed populace.