The Common Roots of America’s Gun Culture

 

shutterstock_158418869I grew up in Calgary and spent many a day on my uncle’s farms scattered all over southern Alberta. Some of them were hunters, and some, like my Dad, were not. One thing all my farming relatives had in common, though, was a well-stocked larder. When you live on farm that’s miles away from the nearest town, you can’t just pop down to the local IGA (Walmart hadn’t been invented yet) and get what you’re missing: If you don’t have it in the house, you went without it until the next trip into town.

This sense of self-reliance and preparedness is what drove gun culture in America for hundreds of years. There is an element of sport to hunting, and trophy hunting will always offer the allure of competing against nature to bring home their prizes. But, by and large, people who hunted for food was what the public thought of when they thought of the typical American gun owner.

This is changing as America moves off the farm and into the city, but the same sense of self-reliance remains, and guns are a part of it. Writer and television host Michael Bane was one of the first to use the phrase “Gun Culture 2.0,” and it’s an apt description of what is driving today’s gun owners. If Gun Culture 1.0 was about hunting and traditional target sports like bullseye, trap shooting and Camp Perry, Gun Culture 2.0 is about concealed carry, practical pistol, and 3 Gun. The same self-reliant, independent streak, however, runs through both cultures, and it’s why today’s gun owners are buying guns in record numbers.

There is a unique expansion of personal empowerment going on right now at a level not seen since the early days of the printing press. We don’t need Walter Cronkite or the New York Times to tell us what the news is, we can chose from hundreds of cable channels or millions of online resources. If I want to read the news in my hometown, I can read it on the Calgary Herald’s website myself, and not merely hope to see glimpses of news from home on television or pay outrageous amounts of money to have the Herald shipped to me in the US.

Urban residents, like their rural forebearers, are realizing they don’t need big government to guide their lives. They are realizing that there probably won’t be an armed representative of the state around when they really, really need one, and are taking measures to become their own first responder. They are choosing to be empowered to protect themselves and their loved ones, much like my relatives chose to grow a vegetable garden and dedicate a portion of the basement to a canning rack.

In the past, people realized that they might not be able to last through a brutal winter without a well-stocked pantry. Today the prospects of starving in a winter storm are significantly lower for those of us who live in the city, but that same sense of self-reliance and desire to be safe remains. We express that desire by arming ourselves against those who would threaten our way of life. America doesn’t have two gun cultures, it has one culture of independence, expressed in two different ways.

There are 5 comments.

  1. Thatcher

    Thank you!! This is exactly what I try to explain to my fellow city-dwelling companions. It’s about taking care of yourself. It’s about being an independent person. All of my young life, out in the country, everyone I knew had multiple guns. And they were not used against people! They were to provide food for our family, or for target shooting, or to rid our cropland of pests. If you haven’t lived that life, it’s hard to explain to people who have only seen meat wrapped in plastic at the grocery store.

    Americans aren’t deviants because we own guns.

    • #1
    • October 23, 2015 at 1:06 pm
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  2. Member

    Hunting is and was only a part of it. For rural dwellers, there are dangers and situations that only a gun can resolve. Humane dispatch of injured or dying stock or wildlife, protection from bears, etc.

    In the end, common sense tells one that life in the wilderness means being armed.

    Of course, while the causes may be different, the same considerations exist for the city or suburban dweller. It may not be a bear, but a burglar or rapist. It may not be livestock, but a pet or an animal hit by a vehicle.

    So for me, common sense tells me life in the urban wilderness also means being armed.

    The problem is that today, we don’t depend upon ourselves for much anymore, we expect everything to be handled by someone else. Police, wildlife control, etc.

    Not long ago, in front of my brother’s house in an outlying suburb, a car hit a groundhog, crushing its hind quarters, but not outright killing it. A small group of neighbors gathered around, crying and demanding that someone call someone and do something!

    My brother, not wanting to see this animal writhe in pain for the hour or so it would take for the animal control to show up and dispatch it, went in the house and got his .22 and put the animal out if its misery.

    The neighbors were outraged, how could he kill that poor animal? We have lost our minds….

    • #2
    • October 23, 2015 at 1:36 pm
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  3. Thatcher

    Well said

    • #3
    • October 23, 2015 at 2:57 pm
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  4. Inactive

    Weak post.

    Kevin Creighton: This sense of self-reliance and preparedness is what drove gun culture in America for hundreds of years.

    No, it isn’t. I think You got the wrong roots.

    The Tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

    The sense of Self-reliance from a tyrannical government and preparedness to fight if need be is what drove “gun culture” in America for hundreds of years. Not having to go to town to get food is just icing on the cake.

    The 2nd Amendment is first and foremost protection from government; insurance for Freedom.

    What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance. Let them take arms.

    • #4
    • October 23, 2015 at 4:01 pm
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  5. Inactive

    PHenry:

    Not long ago, in front of my brother’s house in an outlying suburb, a car hit a groundhog, crushing its hind quarters, but not outright killing it. A small group of neighbors gathered around, crying and demanding that someone call someone and do something!

    My brother, not wanting to see this animal writhe in pain for the hour or so it would take for the animal control to show up and dispatch it, went in the house and got his .22 and put the animal out if its misery.

    The neighbors were outraged, how could he kill that poor animal? We have lost our minds….

    In many communities in the Pittsburgh suburbs, it is illegal to discharge a firearm. So, if one performs this humane act, one can expect to be prosecuted. It would be a good thing to know where it is legal to act humanely. Is there an app for that?

    • #5
    • October 23, 2015 at 6:26 pm
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