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(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

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Nobody wants to hear the Hitler analogies, but the Brown Shirt paramilitary operation was not entirely dissimilar to this growing band of GOP weirdos. Like other authoritarian revolutionary movements, the Nazi party recruited disaffected citizens, armed them, and then fed a constant diet of hateful conspiracy. Old grievances, arrest records, and other failures were erased by the legitimacy conferred by a gun and a flag. Street violence by the paramilitaries was encouraged. All in the name of instilling fear as part of the pursuit of power.

We aren’t there yet. The embrace of Rittenhouse’s vigilantism and Massie’s Christmas card hasn’t yet brought us to an American Kristallnacht. But these are steps in that direction.

And they also defy the long-held norms of responsible gun ownership.

The first step back is going to require responsible citizens—especially gun owners—to wake up to the transformation of gun culture. They need to understand that the modern embrace of extreme gun radicalization isn’t about freedom, but about fear and intimidation.

But this version of gun culture is neither normal nor patriotic.

It’s irresponsible and it’s wrong. It’s time for gun owners to stand up and say so. Freedom doesn’t just depend on the Second Amendment. It depends on having the courage to oppose those who would rule by fear.

— Ryan Busse in This Ain’t About Freedom

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