Former Republican Says 'Gun Worship' Has 'Gotten Worse' Under Trump As Conservatives Struggle to Redefine Patriotism

A former Republican has blasted Conservatives for choosing to sell out "actual patriotism" for "gun worship" under President Donald Trump.

In a series of tweets published on Monday U.S. Naval War College Prof. Tom Nichols lamented how gun culture appears to be spreading "from a corner of the GOP" to the entire conservative party under Trump.

"Even when I was a Republican, I never understood people who measure freedom by how many of us walk around with guns," wrote Nichols, who parted ways with the GOP after Republicans allowed Brett Kavanaugh to be confirmed to the Supreme Court.

The professor said under Trump there appears to be a growing "cultural change" with the spread of "gun culture from a corner of the GOP to the entire conservative moment."

Driving that shift, the former Republican suggested, was a need among conservatives to redefine what it means to be a patriot after having to "sell out so much actual patriotism to Trump."

"The spread of gun worship is conservative virtue-signaling," Nichols explained. "Never liked it when I was among my old tribe, and it's gotten worse as 'conservatives' try to figure out new markers for what makes them 'patriots' now that they've had to sell out so much actual patriotism to Trump."

Nichols' comments came as gun rights activists held up the heroism of two security workers who took down the attacker in Sunday morning's shooting during a church service in White Settlement, Texas, as an argument for expanding access to firearms across the country.

"A gunman open-fired at a White Settlement, Texas church, and within three seconds, a good guy with a gun stopped him," the National Rifle Association said in a tweet in the wake of the shooting, before crediting "critical changes to Texas law in 2017" for making the takedown possible.

Even when I was a Republican, I never understood people who measure freedom by how many of us walk around with guns. This is a cultural change, the spreading of the gun culture from a corner of the GOP to the entire conservative moment. /1

— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) December 31, 2019

The argument for arming "good guy" citizens with firearms to address gun violence is far from a new. However, gun rights activists have latched on to the Sunday incident, which saw two people killed before the attacker was stopped, as further justification for expanding firearm access across the country.

Subscription to gun culture, Nichols said, appears to have become something of a "litmus test for 'conservatives,'" which, he said, "tells you something sad about conservatism."

"When I was a kid, everyone had a gun. Most of my neighbors. Teachers. (Lots more veterans in those days.) But it was not a culture of 'I went for a coffee and wore my gun because damn it, I'm an American,'" Nichols said.

"My GOP voting family and friends never talked about guns," he continued. "Why would we?"

"Among the working-class guys who all owned guns, talking a lot about guns was weird. You had them, it was your right, you left it at that," the professor wrote. "We didn't measure our sense of worth by whether we were going to go face down the gangbangers around our church in the 70s.

"I'm uncomfortable with people who worship guns and feel the need to have them nearby 24/7 not because of guns, but because I'm uncomfortable with people who worship guns," he said.

Newsweek has contacted Nichols, the GOP and the White House for comment.

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump waves after speaking at a White House Mental Health Summit in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House on December 19, 2019 in Washington, D.C. A former Republican has warned that 'gun worship' has 'gotten worse' under Trump. Drew Angerer/Getty