The American gun myth ends at a wall. Specifically, it's a tall, stone wall adorned with condos on its inner edge, like post-apocalyptic cliff dwellings, and beyond that, is another wall. It surrounds a proposed Libertarian--to be kind--settlement to be established somewhere in rural Idaho, naturally, called III Citadel. In addition to a farmers market and yet more walls--this time in the service of dividing neighborhoods--the compound includes both a gun manufacturing center and a gun museum (feat. reflecting pool), "where enthusiasts actually get to fire their favorite arms from history!" And unlike, say, the Ben & Jerry's factory/museum/tour-thing, these are unfortunately in different buildings, in different compound regions.
The Citadel, if you can't tell already, is basically a cartoon of America's most jack-off gun culture. It's kinda/sorta survivalisty--there's a "water/power facility"--but it's more about the guns (and tourism, apparently). Also: not recycling, because, fuck that. "The Citadel Community will house between 3,500 and 7,000 patriotic American families who agree that being prepared for the emergencies of life and being proficient with the American icon of Liberty — the Rifle — are prudent measures," the Citadel site reads. "There will be no HOA. There will be no recycling police and no local ordinance enforcers from City Hall." Though there are rules, they will be voluntary, which presumably means you won't have to follow them. They mostly involve guns:
One: Once ratified, this list of conditions may only be altered by unanimous consent of all parties governed by this Agreement, i.e. full-time Residents. Full-time residency will be defined by a select panel of full-time Residents who will also establish guidelines for acceptable exceptions for absences.
Two: Every able-bodied Patriot aged 13 and older governed by this Agreement shall annually demonstrate proficiency with the rifle of his/her choice by hitting a man-sized steel target at 100 yards with open sights at the Citadel range. Each Resident shall have 10 shots and must hit the target at least 7 times.
Three: Every able-bodied Patriot aged 13 and older governed by this Agreement shall annually demonstrate proficiency with a handgun of choice by hitting a man-sized steel target at 25 yards with open sights at the Citadel range. Each Resident shall have 10 shots and must hit the target at least 7 times.
Seven: Every child attending Citadel schools — with parental discretion for maturity — shall have as part of every semester's class curriculum basic marksmanship and firearms safety training leading to the proficiency test on the child's 13th birthday as a "Coming of Age" rite of passage (a parent may attend the classes or personally train the child if so desired). Children attending schools beyond the Citadel, or home-schooled, are required to meet the same proficiency standards at age 13.
Eight: All Patriots, who are of age and are not legally restricted from bearing firearms, shall agree to remain armed with a loaded sidearm whenever visiting the Citadel Town Center. Firearm shall be on-the-person and under the control of the Resident, not merely stored in a vehicle.
Frustratingly, while the Citadel's manifesto (it's all manifesto) makes the claim it will be educating not indoctrinating the Citadel's children, a pretty good example of indoctrination might include mandatory rites of passage including (but limited to!) being good at shooting a gun at "a man-sized" target. Also note that one does not actually buy or own property at the Citadel, one leases it from a central authority. So peace out, property rights. Finally, the Citadel Patriot Agreement explains that there actually are enforcers. Busted.
Twelve: Violations of this Agreement will result in review by an arbitration panel consisting of Citadel Residents with appropriate and proportional disciplinary action taken. The most severe disciplinary action may include the loss of Lease and expulsion from the community.
This is all fine and mockable and the sort of thing not too hard to find on the internet, thought this particular bit of wingnuttery seems to involve an actual, functioning gun-maker, based for the time being in West Virginia: III Arms, maker of custom AR-15 assault rifles. Interestingly, the whole Citadel gun parade has apparently nothing to do with gun sports or hobbies--not even hunting lip-service--and everything to do with defense in the case of the great SHTF (the shit hitting the fan, duh).
This is a common desire in this wing of gun nuttery: things going to hell and having to defend against something. Which is where we hit that wall, of course, the wall that makes the great gun myth unavoidable. Guns are as much a defense against pretty much anything going in the year 2013 as a big stupid stone wall (or a carefully planned series of them, in case you were taking the whole wall feature too metaphorically). Ironically enough, tall stone walls became obsolete as means of defense right about the time gun powder came into use and walls became highly blow-upable, to say nothing of the armed drones soon to be available to any old idiot planning on storming a weak-ass survivalist compound (for what exactly, besides guns from the gun factory?).
We've got Photoshop, specifically.
If one spends much time on the Citadel's website--where you'll find an application and a link to send your $208 application fee--you might notice something interesting about those walls and really the whole project: it sounds like prison. It is a place where you might pay money to live separate from the rest of society within rows of tall walls, which are still pretty good for keeping people from escaping, within poured concrete housing, which includes "micro-suites":
... a small apartment of 300 square feet suitable for your family members who may need a safe place when SHTF, or if you live beyond the walls a micro-suite can be ideal for you to use as a refuge if we must close the gates for a short period of time. Micro suites will have the comforts of home, even if a bit cramped, bunk beds, and while they have a small footprint, they'll keep you safely inside the walls with your fellow Patriots.
In other words, a prison cell. And all of this just reminds me how apt the metaphor of prison is for the NRA et al's gun society, in which you are at all times divided from other humans by imminent lethality. Which, I think, is near the opposite of freedom, though I suspect this attitude is just one of the reasons I would be swiftly rejected from the Citadel (ahem, communism, ahem) compound. Maybe I can visit as a tourist, one of the Citadel's projected sources of income.
Reach this writer at michaelb@motherboard.