How we cater to couch commandos

By John Young

Adam Lanza just wanted a sporting chance.

He had only so much time to kill once he entered Sandy Hook Elementary. His schedule had been pinched by having just shot his mother dead.

What’s a tormented individual to do?

Remington Arms had the answer: the Bushmaster XM15-E2S .223 caliber AR-15 style killing machine.

Twenty-six dead, including 20 first-graders, in a fleet matter of minutes.

For good measure he’d also brought along a 12-gauge shotgun, a Glock 10mm handgun and a Sig Sauer 9 mm handgun.

So much killing to do, so little time, before police arrived and he turned a barrel on himself.

He needn’t have weighted himself down. As the National Rifle Association will assert approvingly, to get it all done, all he needed was that AR-15-style piece, smartly accompanied by 10 30-round magazines.

All of this spells good commerce – the American way, the sporting way, the couch commando way.

“Couch commando” wasn’t in my vocabulary until reading reports of the $73 million settlement in the suit by parents and living victims of the Sandy Hook massacre, having sued the maker of the murder weapon.

In a sly end-run around Republican laws to exempt gun manufacturers from liability, the suit focused on the merchandising of the weapons in question, how the pitch for the weapon wasn’t about self-protection (ahem) or even sport (ahem). It was about titillation.

As the plaintiffs demonstrated, it was an appeal to “troubled men,” embodied in the Remington slogan, “Consider your man card reissued.”

In recent years we have spent a lot of time dissecting the thoughts of killers for whom a gun in hand completed those thoughts.

George Zimmerman. Kyle Rittenhouse. The father-son team that killed Ahmaud Arbery.

These more celebrated cases aside, we now have a growing trove of incidents involving right-wing head cases for whom rage percolates, with arms amassed for just the right time.

The Anti-Defamation League calls it the growing problem of “troubled perpetrators.”

ADL attributes at least 333 deaths in the U.S. over the last decade to right-wing extremists.

Ah, that he-man license. When investigators studied the online activities of James McLeod, a Colorado man who killed five before police took him down, they found he resided in something called the “manosphere,” described as a “toxic masculinity subculture” based on “revenge fantasies.”

Then there is Matthew Coleman, a New Mexico QAnon adherent who killed his two children because he was convinced his wife had passed on “serpent DNA” to them.

Let’s face it. Only a fine line separates that kind of lunacy from that espoused by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green and her gun-toting cohort in Congress, Lauren Boebert, both of whom resisted restrictions against packing heat on the House floor.

Not only are our gun laws tailored to the whims of the certifiably deadly, in the Age of Trump, the Republican Party has become so dominated by the extreme right that clearly dangerous individuals like these are on our payroll.

Aside from having a gun-themed restaurant where waitresses worked with pistols strapped to their sides, Boebert’s only claim to fame before a Republican-dominated district elected her was that she confronted Beto O’Rourke at a campaign rally over his vow to get AKs and AR-15s out of the gun stream.

Beto’s cause is righteous. Convenience for couch commandos isn’t the intent of the Second Amendment.

By the way, Remington has taken the Donald Trump route to rehabilitation and to further filthy lucre. It twice filed bankruptcy before reorganizing and announcing plans for a new Georgia factory.

It doesn’t make the Bushmaster anymore, but trust in Remington to always have titillating options when a troubled man comes to call.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.   

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