A few weeks back an image started making the rounds on social media. Tactical Shit, a company out of St. Peters, Missouri, was selling the above patch, a yellow Star of David with the German word for Jew replaced with the words, “gun owner.” The patch was clearly meant to invoke the persecution of the Jews under Hitler’s regime, but then assign that persecution to American gun owners.
In the wake of the deadly shooting in Parkland, Florida that claimed the lives of 17 people, it’s been revealed that the shooter had clearly anti-Semitic leanings among his basket of deplorable ideas. Parkland is not a singular instance of shooters targeting Jews or expressing hatred of Jews through attacks, particularly in the wake of the election of Donald Trump to the presidency. The attack on Aztec High School in New Mexico last December involved a shooter highly-entrenched in the online world of pro-Trump and white supremacist forums. In January of this year, a Virginia teen was active in promoting Nazi imagery and anti-Semitic views on Twitter before killing his girlfriend’s parents and then himself.
Clearly, there is a Venn diagram to be drawn concerning Trump support, gun ownership, white persecution complexes, anti-Semitism and violence. In the middle of that diagram is Tactical Shit and sites like it. Despite their claims that they did not invoke this symbol lightly, they did eventually remove it from their store after complaints. In a comment made to Danny Wicentowski at New River Times, Tactical Shit owner TJ Kirgin said…
We sell over 1,700 different velcro backed morale patches most of which are funny or offencive [sic] in some way to somebody. We have removed the patch from our site and our store and are sending our inventory back to Violent Little Machine Shop. Kirgin wrote. “We will not make a habit out of removing products simply because they offend someone, however we are making an exception in this situation due to the religious implications and because the patch is in fact no longer relevant under the Trump Administration.
Glad as I am one drop of poison has been removed from the internet, sites like Tactical Shit are still a hotbed of the worst aspects of American culture. For instance, they sell this Liberal Tears Gun Oil that is bacon-scented. This is in keeping with other aspects of toxic gun culture centered around bigotry targeted at non-Christians, such as the time Silver Bullet Gun Oil put pig fat in their product in hopes Muslims who used it would be “consigned to Allah’s Hell.” A similar motivation was behind Jihawg Ammo, which coated their bullets in paint laced with pork.
This conversation started with patches. The ones pathetically implying that American gun owners are in any way comparable to the persecution and attempted extermination of the Jews in the Holocaust are gone, but scrolling through what’s left is a playground of the deranged and dangerous. Here are a few samples…
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I think that’s enough for now. The point I’m trying to make is that stores like Tactical Shit and some of the others I mentioned above aren’t just selling guns and accessories. They are selling a lifestyle and a point of view, and that point of view is proudly white supremacist, bigoted against anything that is not heterosexual and cisgender, and highly afraid of anything that questions Christian dominance. This is accompanied by a seemingly endless line of apparel desperately screaming how few fucks the people who buy this junk give. Beliefs that are clearly dearly-held are protected and surrounded by more conventionally, as Kirgin called it, “offencive,” expressions in order to give the extremist and hateful ideas the veneer of humor the “snowflakes” just can’t handle.
It’s all an illusion, though. Any semi-deep dive into gun culture will have you interacting with bigots, conspiracy theorists, separationists and people with violent streaks a mile wide. That’s not to say all gun owners are this way; Texas is full of liberal gun owners. However, the modern gun culture was birthed in the paranoia-driven gun marketing and right-wing media campaigns that arose in the Barack Obama Administration. Fear was good for business, especially gun business.
Some of that is gone. A loss of the profitable Obama Gun-Grab Boogeyman is one of the many reasons gun manufacturer Remington is headed to bankruptcy. What’s left, though, is a small army of heavily-armed people conditioned to be afraid and ready to attack at a moment’s notice. So they storm a pizzeria because Hillary Clinton might be running a child-sex ring out of it, or they harness the post-Trump rise in casual online Nazism to continue their persecution complexes and justify acts of terror. Stores like Tactical Shit parasitically feed on these gun culture warriors, normalizing xenophobia, nationalism and aggression for profit.
A horrible product minimizing the atrocities of the Holocaust in the name of parting insecure gun owners from their cash is no longer for sale. Huzzah. It’s really just one tick on the dog, though. The infestation continues, and it is abetting deadly attacks.