PHOTO BY SHAY HORSE/NURPHOTO VIA GETTY IMAGES
The pro-Donald Trump agitators who stormed the Capitol on Wednesday, January 6 they carried side-arms, pistols, assault rifles and a “ton” of ammunition. One of the assailants was walking with a 12-round pistol inside the Capitol. Another was arrested with a Smith & Wesson in his pocket, an assault rifle, a second pistol, ammunition, and 11 Molotov cocktails in the van he parked. just around the corner.
At a hotel a few blocks from the Capitol, a man parked his trailer with an assault rifle, a glock and hundreds of armor-piercing bullets. In messages sent to his family, he fantasized about meeting the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, and “putting a bullet in his head live on TV.”
But the assailants were going with the intention of doing much more damage.
As the list of arrests grows, so does the number of evidence of weapons power that the insurgents brought with them. The authorities have only charged about 50 of the hundreds of assailants who entered the Capitol by force, but that alone has been enough to unveil an arsenal of explosives, weapons and ammunition. Others “only” stormed the capitol armed with knives, táseres and brass knuckles, according to the police, and the photographs show countless agitators with bats and batons.
“The bloodbath could have been so much worse,” says Josh Horwitz, a famous activist who has advocated for years for gun control and executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.
The exact number of assailants equipped with lethal weapons will never be known, as law enforcement allowed many to leave the Capitol after the assault, but the most dangerous members still roam free. Right now, authorities are trying to find out who was responsible for planting homemade bombs at the headquarters of the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee.
What is clear is that these agitators had the necessary arsenal – and the will – to unleash even greater violence if they had found greater targets.
As the date of January 6 approached, the most fans debated in media such as Parler what equipment and what weapons they should carry. They were empowered by Trump’s warning that the day was going to be “wild” and were ready to violate the strict gun control of the District of Columbia, where the Capitol is located.
“Yes, it is illegal, but this is war and we are clearly in a post-legal phase of our society,” wrote one of Trump’s supporters, as collected The Washington Post. On thedonald.win page, a person encouraged to go to Washington, DC “ARMED WITH A RIFLE, A HAND GUN, TWO KNIVES AND AS MUCH AMMUNITION AS YOU CAN LOAD.”
After entering the halls of Congress, some assailants began to sing “colgad and Mike Pence”, The outgoing vice president, who was inside the building in a session scheduled to certify the electoral victory of Joe Biden. Outside, other fans had just build a gallows.
Insurrections go ‘mainstream’
“Too many of our elected officials have resorted to the idea of political violence for electoral purposes,” laments Horwitz. “When you brand everything you disagree with as tyranny, the people act.”
During his decades as a gun control activist, Horwitz has seen the gun industry and Republican politicians spread the idea of an armed insurrection, from the internet far-right to other more moderate conservative politicians.
Little by little, they have been reformulating the second amendment, which gives them the right to bear arms and defend themselves with them, until it means that citizens must arm themselves against the government, Horwitz denounces. Examples abound: the former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich saying that the Second Amendment “is not about hunting” or the Republican candidate for the Senate Sharron Angle saying that citizens might use the second amendment as medicine for “the problems caused by Harry Reid”, his political rival in 2012.
Around this time, the National Rifle Association and the lobby de las armas had ceased to represent only those who love hunting and shooting sports and had expanded its membership and involvement in politics by promoting the idea that citizens should be able to carry the same weapons as the government. Now, the list of weapons seized in the assault on the Capitol is very similar to what you could find in any weekend show in the United States.
The conviction that citizens have the right to oppose the government if they don’t like its policies grew with the election of Obama, the country’s first black president. When he passed his biggest hit as president, the Affordable Care Act, there was a wave of demonstrations across the country where Gadsden flags were frequently seen – a reference to the violent consequences the government can suffer if he overreaches – and there were often armed groups at these protests.
“Insurrectionalism is linked to racism,” Horwitz explains. “It is a question of control and power. ‘Your social security is tyranny because I don’t like the people who benefit. I don’t like your laws and these rulers don’t like me, so I need my weapon to fight against tyranny. ‘
This current of thought has reached its peak with Trump. Since his 2016 presidential campaign, when he said that if Hillary Clinton won, “The people of the second amendment” could do something about it, Trump has fostered the idea that political disagreements are won by those with the most guns.
In January of last year, Trump commissioned 15,000 armed people to march to the Virginia Capitol on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to demonstrate against possible gun control in the state. At the beginning of the pandemic, he urged his Twitter followers to return freedom to the states that they had imposed house confinements. It was a clear message for his followers to take up arms and march against the Democratic governments of their states, which was exactly what happened in michigan.
“No one has understood better than Donald Trump how to use the force of the masses as a private army,” admits Horwitz. “He is so narcissistic that sometimes we forget that he also has an innate political prowess. He immediately realized that he could captivate this sector of the population to gain a lot of power.
On Wednesday, Trump warned the thousands of supporters – almost all white – who had come to his call: “If you don’t fight hard, you will no longer have a country.” And these marched directly to the Capitol.
This article It was originally published in the ‘HuffPost’ United States and has been translated from English by Daniel Templeman Sauco.
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