Fighting for the right to own a gun is a way of asserting control against a society that many feel is encroaching on their values and freedoms. Millions of people with such feelings want guns less to protect themselves against physical danger and more to protect themselves from the threat of a society they feel is taking away their ability to control their own lives. That deeper loss of control fuels the disproportionately intense passion of gun rights advocates and explains what The New Yorker calls the ”conspicuous asymmetry of fervor” that energizes 4 million members of the National Rifle Association to effectively determine gun control policy for a country of 310 million.
People with these concerns have been identified by research into the Theory of Cultural Cognition as Individualists, people who prefer a society that grants the individual more freedom and independence and leaves them more personally in control of their individual choices and values. Contrast that with the sort of society preferred by Communitarians, who feel most comfortable, and safest, in a “We’re all in it together” world of shared control and communal power, a society that sacrifices some individual freedoms in the name of the greater common good. These deeply conflicting worldviews drive the central conflict in the fight over gun control.
The Gun Control Battle Isn’t About Guns As Weapons. It’s About Guns as Symbols.
[Via an email from Paul Koning.
Ropeik, while obviously anti-gun, does give almost fair respect for our philosophical viewpoint. It’s nice to see the debate framed with something approaching reality as opposed to straw men.—Joe]