Why Does The Gun Topic Engender Such Passion?

As a quick glance at the Main Feed tells us, Ricochet these days looks not entirely dissimilar from say The Truth About Guns. Second Amendment politics is in the national conversation after the horror of Newtown, so that’s one explanation. But we also have heavily commented threads on what gun to buy, the hypocrisy of the media, about the Second Amendment, about civil disobedience, etc. I’ve started a couple of those, and have part…

  1. Joseph Paquette
    Schrodinger’s Cat: The passion comes from the issue of freedom. Pro-gun people see the right to bear arms as the key to a free citizenry. Anti-gun people see guns as an obstacle to the elitist utopia.

    An armed citizenry is a free citizenry. A disarmed citizen is easily intimidated and controled by the state. · 8 hours ago

    The ever increasing Nanny state seems to provide evidence to the contrary.  We are armed, and controlled.

  2. Joseph Paquette

    Your state, for some, “…The natural condition of human beings is war, violence, selfishness, greed… and civilization is taught, not inborn.”   I agree, society is fragile.   Civilization is completely dependent on a continued supply of food.  Chaos, fighting, hoarding, and a break down of all law, is just two weeks away without groceries.   Probably the soundest argument for gun ownership.

  3. Leigh

    Aren’t we somewhat overthinking the passion in favor of  gun control? If you supported a policy that you believed would save children’s lives, wouldn’t you be passionate about it?  Wouldn’t you be angry at those who stand in the way?  For most supporters of gun control, it’s as simple as that.

    Just because the reasoning is not based on sound logic or evidence doesn’t mean it’s not emotionally powerful. 

  4. MJBubba

    Cogent post.  I entirely agree that our cultural divide has the Doctrine of Original Sin at its core.  

    I follow your idea about class distinctions; I will have to chew on that for a bit.

  5. Geoffrey Leach
    TheSophist:

    The theory is that while each criminal does bear the ultimate responsibility, one must take into account the tragedy of that individual and how society has done him wrong.

    While I agree with this, it leaves unanswered this question: Why don’t the anti-gun see the pro-gun as in need of gentle persuasion, rather than the hatred that seems to be the usual approach? Shouldn’t society take responsibility for the situations that require us, the nasty and brutish pro-gun, to behave the way we do?

  6. Leigh

    On your first part — on the view of mankind — I think you’ve absolutely nailed it.  Well considered and well stated.  One additional point: taken far enough, the liberal view opposes guns even in the hands of the police.

    I’m not as sure about the class view, but that might be my unique experience — I know some highly-educated conservatives but few of whom you call the New Upper Class elites.  The people I know who are pushing for gun control are more likely to be compassionate but not deep-thinking people from any socioeconomic background.

    I’d guess that it is not an explanation of the passion behind it, but perhaps an intensifier.  And the reverse is that the “peasants”, if you will, sense condescension and resent it bitterly.

    However, a big part of the passion is the desire to protect the innocent.  If you accept the “liberal” view of mankind, the gun is to blame for the death of children. If you accept the “conservative” view, taking away your gun is directly taking away one of your rights and interfering with your ability to defend your family.  Both are intensely emotional and personal.

  7. Frank Soto
    C

    I’m similarly passionate about all of my rights.  I don’t find anything out of the ordinary about our defense of the second ammendment as compared to our defense of  the others.

    I don’t even own any guns and the talk among our rulers is ticking me off. I think they’ve finally convinced me to buy one.

  8. skipsul
    Leigh: Aren’t we somewhat overthinking the passion in favor of  gun control? If you supported a policy that you believed would save children’s lives, wouldn’t you be passionate about it?  Wouldn’t you be angry at those who stand in the way?  For most supporters of gun control, it’s as simple as that.

    Just because the reasoning is not based on sound logic or evidence doesn’t mean it’s not emotionally powerful.  · 36 minutes ago

    You’ve summed up a few relations of mine there.  

  9. Schrodinger

    The passion comes from the issue of freedom. Pro-gun people see the right to bear arms as the key to a free citizenry. Anti-gun people see guns as an obstacle to the elitist utopia.

    An armed citizenry is a free citizenry. A disarmed citizen is easily intimidated and controled by the state.

  10. The New Clear Option
    TheSophist

    Schrodinger’s Cat: The passion comes from the issue of freedom. Pro-gun people see the right to bear arms as the key to a free citizenry. Anti-gun people see guns as an obstacle to the elitist utopia.

    An armed citizenry is a free citizenry. A disarmed citizen is easily intimidated and controled by the state. · 0 minutes ago

    See, this is the perspective of the 2A community. I just don’t think that would engender the kind of hatred and passion that this one does. I do think it has to do with their own view of themselves as superior, better people. · 10 hours ago

    I actually think your initial analysis, viz. that the disagreement about the need for the 2nd Amendment is rooted in the respective pro- or anti-gun stances on human nature. You don’t need to even delve into the class angle to explain the level of passion. That distinction in perspective on the fallenness or innocence of humanity is enough.

    I agree with you liberals think they’re better than the yokels in flyover country. But even the elitists in America tend to believe the yokels are basically good, if ignorant, folk.

  11. Brian Skinn
    TheSophist: The deepest belief here is that human beings are ultimately good. Peace, love, understanding, and joy are the natural conditions of human beings. Unhappiness, inequality, injustice — these are products of the powerful who manipulate things to get more than others, more than their “fair share”. Things like religious bigotry, racism, sexism, etc. are put into place by the Powerful to oppress, subjugate, and exploit the People.  · 41 minutes ago

    “The Powerful” are people, too.  Thus, attribution of oppressive, subjugatory, and exploitative motives to “the Powerful” is inconsistent with a “deepest belief … that human beings are ultimately good.”

    Geoffrey Leach  While I agree with this, it leaves unanswered this question: Why don’t the anti-gun see the pro-gun as in need of gentle persuasion, rather than the hatred that seems to be the usual approach? Shouldn’t society take responsibility for the situations that require us, the nasty and brutish pro-gun, to behave the way we do? · 24 minutes ago

    Because, despite any protestations that they hold a “deepest belief … that human beings are ultimately good,” (I suspect) they actually believe that only malevolent motives for gun ownership can exist and thus gun lovers must be evil.

  12. Phil Turmel

    Holy Smokes!  TheSophist has drawn me out of lurker mode.

    I preach this very idea to my children and all who will listen.  A person’s core philosophical position on the nature of humanity underlies their political preferences, if not always consciously.  (TheSophist has explained it far better than I have, I have to admit.)

    As a Roman Catholic, I find it particularly interesting to note the tension between the teachings on original sin and the teachings on our innate yearning for God.  I translate this into secular terms as “we are born with an animal nature, but are equipped to overcome it with suitable guidance”.

    Robert Lux’s point that one’s position on the 2A is a better indicator of conservative beliefs than religion fits my experience as well.  When I find a gun control enthusiast in a parish, I tend to find a pro-abortion heretic, a “social justice” advocate, or some other form of “seamless cloth” apologist.

  13. Brian Skinn
    The New Clear Option  I agree with you liberals think they’re better than the yokels in flyover country. But even the elitists in America tend to believe the yokels are basically good, if ignorant, folk. · 4 minutes ago

    “Clinging to guns and religion?”  While I’m sure some American elitists believe the yokels are good folk, at least a significant minority has little but contempt for the rabble in flyover country.

  14. EHerring

    The elite can afford bodyguards and believe food will always show up in shrink-wrapped packages in the grocery store. The naive believe all are basically good and their compassion will spare them from the criminal’s ire. They also believe that guns create killers. The realist takes responsibility for personal defense and retaining skills for putting food on the table. He would rather stop a crime against his person that give a police report as a victim.

  15. raycon and lindacon

    Didn’t bother to read your entire commentary, just want to provide our perspective;  The firearm is the fundamental symbol and guarantor of American freedom.  It defends our rights against evil, whether it’s a home break in or a tyrannical government. 

    Will the Hobby Lobby defiance end when the tyrants with the guns confront them, or when they decide to shoot back?

    This is a passionate issue.

  16. The King Prawn

    You sum up my feeling on Rousseau pretty well in the first part with the liberal take on humanity.

    As far as the classes go, I’m sure you’ve read Codevilla’s Ruling Class essay (or the book). I don’t know that the connection between the emerging class structure and being anti-gun is fundamental, but the connection is still rather sturdy.

    This post is going to facebook. Writing like this is the best possible advertisement for Ricochet.

  17. Eeyore

    Like others above, I think the class issue may be one of correlation but not causation. There are a lot of New Upper Class enclaves – Manhattanites, bubbled academic communities across the country, the metastasizing DC-area Federal amoeba, etc.

    But they, and the rest of the left, are passionate about everything about which anyone dares to disagree with them. At UNC, Tom Tancredo had to be escorted away by police when a talk he was giving was halted by shouting and a brick thrown through the window. Outside, a huge crowd was screaming, vein-bulgingly loud, “No dialog with hate!!!”

    A couple of days ago, in response to people not giving in on guns, some commentator (I’ve seen so many I can’t remember where) blasted “Let’s face it – We are smarter than them! We are better than them!”

    But the inevitable intellectual disconnect in the elites is obvious whenever any of them is asked why they should be allowed guns and/or armed guards and others not, the inevitable response is “Well, I need the protection [and you don't really]“

    The pro-gun passion? We know it really is a matter of life and death.

  18. TheSophist
    Schrodinger’s Cat: The passion comes from the issue of freedom. Pro-gun people see the right to bear arms as the key to a free citizenry. Anti-gun people see guns as an obstacle to the elitist utopia.

    An armed citizenry is a free citizenry. A disarmed citizen is easily intimidated and controled by the state. · 0 minutes ago

    See, this is the perspective of the 2A community. I just don’t think that would engender the kind of hatred and passion that this one does. It’s more the calculated political impact of socialist politicians, but I really don’t think the rank-n-file anti-gunny thinks they’re passionate about guns because it’s an obstacle to elitist utopia.

    I do think it has to do with their own view of themselves as superior, better people.

  19. Robert Lux

    “Right to guns” distills the principle of the American regime like no other. Self-reliance is the principle of the American regime. Conservatives are more likely to hold a person responsible for his actions/behavior than a liberal for whom external influences always take primacy. What speaks to self-reliance with greater urgency, profundity, than the right to defense of one’s mere life?

    I always say: as a quick n’ dirty read on somebody’s moral-political character, give me someone who believes in the right to bear arms over someone who believes in God. In the former, I have someone who is bound to be yet more reliably open to free-market, limited government principles, precisely because such person is far more likely to have at least an intuitive grasp of the centrality of self-reliance.

    More essentially, it tells me that such a person is not utopian — someone who is more likely to see that war is a tragic yet permanent root of much of life. 

    And self-reliance has to be taught — therein lies the great cleavage between libertarians and conservatives.

  20. R. Craigen

    It’s the last-stand issue about being master of one’s own fate.  And it goes to the heart of the constitution’s notion that the true authority of government comes from the people governed.  Gun control is about the people ceding the right to ever consider armed rebellion, and giving up the right to protect one’s own family, in the hopes that the government will be there when the need arises.

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