Patrick Blanchfield

  • Top Guns

    “There are no ‘good guns,’” Charlton Heston once told Meet the Press. “There are no ‘bad guns.’ Any gun in the hands of a bad man is a bad thing. Any gun in the hands of a decent person is no threat to anybody, except bad people.” The merits of Heston’s argument notwithstanding, the dramatic force of his delivery was undeniable, affirming the actor’s status as one of Hollywood’s iconic heroes. Who could speak with more authority of guys good and bad than the man American audiences had grown up seeing in cowboy buckskin, shining armor, military fatigues, and the robes of Moses himself? This

  • The Thick Blue Line

    The first test call using America’s 911 emergency system was placed on February 16, 1968. To fanfare in the press, a state legislator sitting in the City Hall of the small Alabama town of Haleyville dialed in to the local police station. His call was answered by a group of august notables—a US representative, a telephone-company executive, and president of the Alabama Public Service Commission Theophilus Eugene Connor. Better remembered today by his nickname, “Bull” Connor was an outspoken white supremacist who believed desegregation was a communist plot; just five years earlier, as commissioner

  • Parkland, One Year Later

    IT HAS BEEN ONE YEAR since a young man armed with an assault rifle killed seventeen students and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Since then, the horizon of possibility when it comes to gun control has broadened dramatically. More than twenty states have enacted new legislation, raising minimum-age purchasing requirements for certain weapons and imposing mechanisms to separate alleged domestic abusers from their guns. A freshly invigorated Democratic majority in Congress has just proposed a new assault weapons ban. Voters tell pollsters the issue is

  • culture November 14, 2018

    The Chapo Guide to Revolution: A Manifesto Against Logic, Facts, and Reason

    In October 2004, the comedian Jon Stewart appeared on CNN’s debate show Crossfire and confronted hosts Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson with the charge that their program was “hurting America” and that Carlson was “a dick.” Two years later, at the 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner Roast, Stewart’s longtime partner in comedy, Stephen Colbert, delivered a blistering roast of President Bush to his face. (“I stand by this man because he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things. Things like aircraft carriers and rubble and recently flooded city squares.”) At the time, each of

  • Big-Bang Theory

    In the wake of February’s mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, the public American conversation about gun control has been animated by a recurrent theme: the idea of a ban on assault weapons. According to Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, these guns—most often AR-15-style rifles, civilian versions of the American military’s primary firearm—are “weapons of war” that have no place on “our streets.” But AR-15s are made here in the USA; their manufacturers are subsidized by tax breaks and contracts championed by legislators from both parties. Schumer once called Remington Arms, the oldest American

  • The Quiet Americans

    In his inaugural address as America’s forty-fifth president, Donald Trump invoked the image of a nation in crisis. From “mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities” to “rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones,” his speech portrayed a landscape of squalor and misery. Returning to a favorite theme of his campaign, Trump laid the blame for much of this devastation on the “crime and gangs and drugs” that, according to him, “have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.” “This American carnage,” he promised, “stops right here and stops