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Social paranoia feeds US gun culture


In this Thursday, July 26, 2012 file photo an AR-15 style rifle is displayed at the Firing-Line indoor range and gun shop, in Aurora, Colorado. AP

The gun has an indelible presence in America’s popular consciousness. The myth-making entertainment industry has embellished and magnified the gun’s prominent role in the narrative of the nation’s founding and rapid expansion across the continent over Indian lands and trackless wilds.

But reverence for history isn’t what’s really driving the soaring rate of gun ownership among Americans.

Today something stronger than the hunting culture or nostalgia for an adventure-filled frontier past is keeping gun fetishism alive — social paranoia. A dread of unseen threats against one’s personal safety feeds the demand for automatic assault rifles and handguns, much to the delight of obliging firearm manufacturers.

Up to 47 percent of Americans reported owning firearms in 2011, according to the Gallup Poll. Consequently, the US has the highest rate of gun-related homicides among the industrialized countries. Changing these statistics is a formidable challenge.

Widespread anxiety over perceived impending violence explains why there are 89 guns for every 100 American civilians, as reported in last year’s Small Arms Survey; that’s some 270 million guns nationwide, the highest rate of gun ownership in the world.

Many believe the high-caliber handgun or automatic rifle is their best defense against crime. Someone may want to invade your home, rape your wife and kill your children. A gun would enable you to “stand your ground,” many are convinced.

The gun is also a tool for projecting personal power. This function has even spawned an “open-carry” movement that would allow men and women — who no one should try to “mess with” — to walk around like gunslingers of the old West.

And while no one really believes the United States is in danger of a military invasion by any foreign power, a good many gun worshipers believe that they need to be prepared for a social cataclysm of sorts, like mass unrest or a catastrophe that ultimately leads to widespread looting and depredation.

At its core, then, is a lack of confidence that the state can provide sufficient protection to its citizens. Tied to this is a profound sense of individualism, of a deeply held belief that only the individual, not the community or its laws, is the real guarantor of one’s safety.

Thus, while liberals may share some of these same insecurities, the cult of gun ownership is, as most observers already know, conservative at heart.

Writing in the New York Times, number cruncher Nate Silver draws the link between politics and gun ownership: White Republicans are more likely to own guns than white Democrats; by 2010 gun ownership among Democrats dropped to 22 percent but remained at 50 percent among Republican adults.

In its extreme form, gun worship is xenophobic and racist. Self-proclaimed militias and many so-called doomsday “preppers” fear a creeping United Nations “takeover” of the US. They also warn of an impending race war in which one must be prepared to defend one’s home and family against marauding and rapacious black and brown hordes.

This likely explains why whites are more likely to own guns than blacks or Hispanics and why gun ownership is higher among middle class households than poorer ones, according to Silver’s findings. And while most gun-related homicides occur in urban areas, gun ownership is higher in rural and suburban areas.

While owning a gun is indeed as American as cherry pie, it need not remain part of this country’s traditions. Owning a broadsword is not as British as steak and kidney pie, despite the prominent role of bladed weapons in British history.

It is admittedly not going to be easy to erase the prevalent social delusions that fuel gun ownership in America, but stricter laws and regulations can and should start preventing its lethal consequences. The law of the jungle through the proliferation of guns has no place in civilized life.

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Tags: Democrats , Features , Global Nation , gun control , gun sale , National Rifle Association , Republicans

  • tutubi

    You’ve missed a couple of key points, Rene.  

    (1) The second amendment to the US constitution secures the right for citizens to arm themselves as protection from tyranny.  This is to protect the citizens of our nation from the government itself.  The founding fathers knew that unarmed citizens are more easily subjugated and controlled.  ”We the People” are better served when the power of our democracy remains in the hands of citizens.  

    (2) Hunting is still a reality in the US (unlike here the Philippines, where everything that can be killed has already been vanquished.) I know scores of deer hunters, bird hunters, boar hunters, rabbit and squirrel hunters, and they are all responsible citizens who cherish their right to hunt. They license their weapons and they buy hunting licenses/permits/tags to ensure that the wildlife they hunt remain viable in the wild.  They play by the rules. 

    I am not a gun owner, but find your assertion that gun ownership is being fueled by “social delusions” offensive.  And your assertion that gun ownership is mostly a conservative thing is utter nonsense.  I believe that you owe 148 million Americans (the 47% who own guns) an apology for your implications that they suffer from  ”social paranoia” or “gun fetishes”.  The United States has prospered as a nation for 237 years under this “law of the jungle” (your words) and will  continue to manage with the provisions of the second amendment intact.   

    • dneuwen

      the author is simply regurgitating the same liberal talking points and pejorative labels like social paranoia, gun fetishes or that “evil” conservatives. quoting from the new york times (a flaming agenda-driven liberal mouthpiece) is a big red flag for you. habitually liberals are immune to facts and robotically repeat the same hackneyed liberal mantra without much thought or analysis as for example states that have stringent gun control laws have higher rates of homicides. or that when invoking this or that statistics about gun violence they conveniently leave out the other fact of many reported and unreported lives saved because of guns.

      • kanoy

         he sure is,,,i dont even own a gun i last touched one in ’72 had my fill…but i would pick one up again to defend someone else right to bear arms should they so choose…did you know that per capita the RP and its stupid gun laws…only arming the private armies of the elite dynasties, has a murder rate equal to the USA?

      • Diepor

        Its not hard to get a gun permit in Philippines, what laws are you talking aboout ?

      • kanoy

         In America you can easily buy guns, and in some states, you can even openly carry them. Some groups are advocating a gunless society, but the National Rifle Association (NRA) and like groups are so influential, and so Americans continue to “enjoy” their constitutional “right … to keep and bear arms.”
        WHAT A MORON…..U.S. Constitution – Amendment 2
        Amendment 2 – Right to Bear Arms
        A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
        Proposed 9/25/1789


        BUT LOOKY HERE,,,,October 11th, 2011 THE INQUIRER BY Neal H. Cruz
        The Philippines is now number one in the world in the number of gun-related violence. The United States is only number two. Japan has the lowest gun-related crime rate.

    • Diepor

      They dont need automatic or semiautomatic weapons to hunt deers, only humans.

      • kanoy


      • Diepor

        You are rambling. Its not lack of guns that keep dictators in power.

      • kanoy


      • Diepor

        How can it be proof when there has not been a dictator in the US? Why didnt the african americans start a war to get their civil rights? Thats not how problems are solved, only very narrowminded people would think guns would stop a dictator. You mentioned Hitler, he was loved by a lot of germans thats how he could stay in power.In Cuba the US has supplied the recistance with guns for decades, nothing has happened. Get some education in your redneck mind.

      • kanoy

         Diepor, Oil & Gas Professional
        Get some education in your redneck mind

        In Cuba the US has supplied the recistance with guns for decades, nothing has happened.

        The USSR backed and sent arms to the rebel leader FIDEL CASTRO while the US supported the government of BATISTA in 1957,

        you say ”nothing happened” ”USA sent arms to REBELS for DECADES”
        ahhhh I see your confusion the USsr you thought was the same as the USa;;;;yea that would cause you some serious confusion BATISTA like MARCOS was a DICTATOR the US gov loves to support puppet dictators FANTASIZING themselves as dictators;;;;but they FEAR OUR GUNS we don’t need to wait to be armed we are armed
        Cubans unlike Filipinos hate dictators and those that support them….NOTHING HAPPENED
        Hundreds of Batista-era agents, policemen and soldiers were put on public trial for human rights abuses, war crimes, murder and torture. Most of the people accused were convicted by revolutionary tribunals of political crimes, and were executed by firing squad; others persons received long sentences of imprisonment. A notable example of revolutionary justice was the execution of more than seventy Batista PoWs

      • Diepor

        An decade last 10 years, I said the Us has supported the rebels against Castro since he came to power, and yes it’s been decades. You can’t have much education, your comments don’t make any sense. Talking bad about Filipinos and then coming here and buy yourself a wife, they don’t love you. We laugh about the redneck svetting Americans like you behind your back, then we give your wife some love cause your to old and fat to perform.

      • gemini1971

        “In Cuba the US has supplied the recistance with guns for decades, nothing has happened. “…

        get your spelling check!!

      • kanoy

        Castro assumed power in 1959
        2 years later…..
        American mercenaries and gurella guides tried a sneak attack on a beach where stopped cold in their tracks losing men tanks and weapon
         These difficulties led to some doubts as to the future of joint operations involving the rebels. The force from the beach was reported to have broken through militia lines to move fifty miles to the Escambray area to join what is left of the guerrilla units there in 1961

        They could not count on Escambray after it had een cleaned out.

        In he first place they exaggerated the number of mercenaries. Instead of four
        or five thousand they did not have anywhere near that number.

        “Che” Guevara Castro friend ally and fellow rebel leader was..as with all the rebel groups..on Castro side till Peron executed him in 1964

        leaving that small diminishing band of US backed gurellas standing 2 NOT 10…..2 NOT ”DECADES” years after he assumed power

      • gemini1971

        and who are you to say that!

      • kanoy

         ”In Cuba the US has supplied the recistance with guns for decades, nothing has happened. “…

        Diepor, Oil & Gas Professional POSTED…..

        “In Cuba the US has supplied the recistance with guns for decades, nothing has happened. “…

        get your POST/PEOPLE check Tondo boy!

  • dneuwen

    saying americans should give up their guns because the british do not brandish their broadswords anymore is a stupid analogy since no one in their right mind would keep a sword to defend against criminals with guns. american founding fathers knew that an unarmed citizen is an easily enslaved people having known the tyranny of the british monarchs in their history and it was with the arms of the revolutionaries that enable them to break the yoke of its tyranny. liberals want to ban guns because all they want is control of the people.

    furthermore as the article admitted guns are part and parcel of the american psyche and culture from its inception yet such mass murders and shootings as in columbine and recently in that elementary school are modern phenomena. that is, it is not the guns that caused the killings but the evolving culture which increasing is molded after the liberal social engineering that for example kicked out God and bible in the public schools in the 1960s. the real culprit is the increasing godless culture espoused by the same liberal media, academia and hollywood who hypocritically and insidiously call for gun control so that they can continue to foist and enforce their failed policies on a defenseless citizen.

    • kanoy

       guns do not kill,,,,PEOPLE DO…guns did not massacre 53 in maguindinao..AMPATUAN DID….guns did not kill aquino…AN ASSASSIN DID…guns did not kill the son of former Senator Ramon Revilla Sr…..A GANG OF HOODS DID….guns did not kill the son of the late former Sen. Alejandro Almendras Sr….2 MEN DID….guns did not kill Congressman Luis Bersamin and his bodyguard….2 MEN ON A CYCLE DID,,,ETC ETC ETC all these stupid laws against guns in the RP are useless there are millions of guns here used every single day by people to kill..no law known to man can stop it, but in the USA it sure would have stopped MARCOS….which was THOMAS JEFFERSONS intent…the citizens can protect themselves against the government

      • gemini1971

        well said!

    • Diepor

      The liberals is not religiuos enough , lets arm. The paranoia screams from your words.God and bible has nothing to do in school, the school is for all religions. There is a subject were kids are tought about different religions,thats enough.  

    • chingnarciso

      Schools are not for religions, religions are for the church  only, not in side the class rooms.This country is diversified country. Can you imagine if they will allow religion to be taught in the class room? The children will suffer.they will never have a chance to learn or have a little time to learn other subjects,such science,math,and etc.It’s unfair to allow a one religion and not the others to be taught inside the class room..so many religions in this country..correct me if I’m wrong on my opinion.

  • Diepor

    Very well written story and good points. There is no need for private people to own automatic weapons of any sort, if you are so scared you need a gun at home get a shotgun. I think hunters should be allowed to own guns but not military style weapons. I cant do anything but laugh over this conservative crazy people that love god and guns. They say they are pro-life when they are pro-guns and pro-deathpenalty. IDIOTS.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_C2YIYXN6BG7FE4CXLIXBBDXA2I Yer

    It is not just social paranoia that maintains the deadly gun culture in the US, it is ignorance and the bare-faced lobbying of the NRA. There is over 10 times more gun related crimes in the US than all of Europe including the UK put together.  People have a different idea of civil security here. Trust in the police and the courts is a good start. People have a more mature view of crime and punishment, and human rights is entrenched in the government. And people avoid putting the law into their own hands unlike the Americans.  Gun lobby and gun culture in the US is as strong as its fundamentalist and evangelical view of Christianity.  This is the kind of combination that also exist in Iraq and Afghanistan but only with a different religion as the pervading undertone.  America, truly a dying empire. Fear for China is now imperative as it authoritarian rule is making it stronger and richer while the world police, the USA, is imploding withing its own insecurities brought about by ignorance and lack of deeper social intelligence that can only be possible with historical upheavals that American has not had many.

    • gemini1971

      America is not an empire…just letting you know

  • DakuAkongUtin

    Kahuli lang namin ng mga commercially bought US Made ammo sa mga balikbayan boxes galing Tate. Dios Ko , ang daming mga illegal pinagpadala sa mga Fil Ams nakatago lang kasama mga latang karne at damit.  Ito yung mga Modus Operandi lalo na mga paryentes sa Tate kasi mura ang bala doon at ipapadala nila dito .  

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/DC6NG5LRTD3HOCQPAYFQ53NWIY Crisanto

      So you are saying you are a “figure of authority” ?

  • DakuAkongUtin

    Mao ‘s Red Book mentioned, Power comes from the barrel  of the gun.  He undoubtedly  borrowed it from the Americans. They (white colonizers) conquered all of North America through the power of gun powder and  the gun (flintlock musket at the time) killing the millions of native indians and followed by their westward movement  taking all of North America to themselves.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/DC6NG5LRTD3HOCQPAYFQ53NWIY Crisanto

      They never conquered North America. Read the history if you have access.

      • DakuAkongUtin

         They owned your brown azzes in 1898 until 1946 but in actuality its even up to this day.  So what are you complaining?

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/DC6NG5LRTD3HOCQPAYFQ53NWIY Crisanto

        Huh? You are cursing here? Are you an illiterate individual? Your parents brought you up like this? I pity you….

      • DakuAkongUtin

         Crisanthemum, theres no cursing here just  the dirty truth.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/DC6NG5LRTD3HOCQPAYFQ53NWIY Crisanto

    This author is a plagiarist. I read this article here in the US as posted by AP. Even the photograph was copied.

    • haybuhay69

      Check the author of the US article, most probably its the same person. This is how the AP works. Contributions from different journalists and media sources.

  • DakuAkongUtin

    Yang nagpapadalag ng bala , baril at ammo components galing sa Tate through balikbayan boxes ____You are warned. Meyron na kaming metal detectors at xray to detect firearms and ammo contraband. ITs about time to eliminate this illegal activity for far too long. Salamat kay Custom Director  Gen Lim.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/DC6NG5LRTD3HOCQPAYFQ53NWIY Crisanto

      Please stop bragging and nobody believes on what you are saying. You are not a reliable person and hiding in a fictitious name.

      You are posting THREATS that is punnishable administratively for saying some “secrets” of Philippine customs.

      You are probably just learned how to use a keyboard and how to post here.

      What a fraud…..

      • DakuAkongUtin

         Ang daming bala pumasok sa atin sa palagid ng Balikbayan boxes. ITs a loophole like the gun loophole sa Amerika. What are you talking about ? It is violation of RP Custom laws especially involving guns and explosives.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_T6BUHBRXKA3L3UAWR6FM5YF6WM Steven

     Try not to forget that the japanese military considered  invadeing the usa mainland during world war 2. They knew that american citizens were heavily armed and decided against it.

  • iggy – wbadminster A

    All I can say is WOW.  I hope the author did his research well before publishing a propaganda for the Democrats and Liberals.  I am a Filipino American living in the USA for 40 years, my gun save my family from a home invasion. I am a proud responsible gun owner and a lifetime member of NRA.

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