the spectre of the gun

In American culture, guns have long since ceased to be actual objects. They are instead sub-cultural touchstones, objects of fear and loathing by one side, of veneration on the other. Today's news offers the perfect juxtaposition of stories to illustrate.

In Columbus, Ohio, a boy was suspended for pointing his fingers pistol-style at another student:

Boy points finger like gun, gets suspended (The Columbus Dispatch)

A Columbus principal suspended a student for three days last week after the child pointed a "lookalike firearm” at another student in class and pretended to shoot.

The boy’s age? 10. The “level 2 lookalike firearm” cited in his suspension letter? His finger.

Meanwhile, at the National Harbor just outside of DC, Republican Senator and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell came onto the stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference with a rifle raised over his head:

Mitch McConnell Brandishes Gun at CPAC (ABC News)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., came onto the stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference today brandishing [...] a long gun.

McConnell held the rifle over his head and the CPAC crowd loved it.

Moments later, McConnell handed the gift, a lifetime achievement award from the National Rifle Association, to his retiring colleague, Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, who is leaving his term early for health reasons.

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