According to a report from NBC News, several gun dealers across the country are using an anti-President Joe Biden chant, popular among vehement supporters of former President Donald Trump, to sell weapon parts and ammunition to their customers.
The slogan “Let’s Go Brandon,” is a not-so-secret way for Trump supporters to say “Fuck Joe Biden.” The phrase originated from a NASCAR event in early October after a driver named Brandon Brown won the race. Though chanters in the crowd were using the expletive against the current president, the reporter interviewing Brown misheard what they were saying.
“As you can hear the chants from the crowd, ‘Let’s go Brandon,'” the reporter said.
For the past several weeks, Trump’s supporters have been using the phrase in social media posts and even in public interactions (a pilot from Southwest Airlines, for example, is currently facing disciplinary action for using the words during a recent flight). Up until this point, the slogan has been viewed as an innocuous (albeit obnoxious) way to express displeasure with the current president.
But the decision to attach the phrase to gun accessories has prompted new questions about the slogan’s appropriateness in certain places.
According to the NBC News report, stores are attaching stickers with the phrase “Let’s Go Brandon” on them, as well as caricatures of Biden, to accessories for AR-15-style rifles, the type of gun most frequently used in mass shootings.
While the phrase itself is subtle, some stores are being more direct. A gun dealer in Columbia, South Carolina, for instance, described a part in its store as having three different modes, each marked by a word in parentheses expressing anger toward the president.
Advocates for gun reform and regulations blasted gun dealers for including the messaging on their products.
“There is nothing funny about this,” tweeted Fred Guttenberg, the father of a teenager who was killed in Parkland, Florida, during a 2018 school shooting. “This ought to lead to an immediate @FBI investigation & arrests.”
Newtown Action Alliance, a grassroots group formed after the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012, said that it was “dangerous & reckless” for dealers to sell accessories using the anti-Biden slogan.
NBC News reached out to the Secret Service to get the agency’s view on these products and whether they constituted a threat toward Biden, but the agency didn’t respond.
Several right-wing media pundits mocked NBC News for its reporting on the issue. “NBC News has now apparently decided that ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ also constitutes a threat that should be investigated by the Secret Service,” a tweet from the far right news site TheBlaze read. And in an article from Townhall, the author suggested that NBC News was “triggered” by the fact that guns included the anti-Biden taunt.
But there’s reason to be concerned. Frank Figliuzzi, a former Assistant Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for Counterintelligence, tweeted that the Secret Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms should pay attention to gun dealers selling products like these.
There’s also the concern that impressionable Trump supporters may feel emboldened by such rhetoric, as polling has already shown that a disturbing proportion of Trump loyalists believe violence is justifiable in certain circumstances right now.
A poll that was released this week by the Public Religion Research Institute found that 3 in 10 Republican voters (30 percent) agree with the idea that “true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.” Among those who wrongly believe the election was “stolen” from Trump, 39 percent believe that violence may be necessary to “save” the country.