Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member


milestogo's Journal
milestogo's Journal
October 27, 2023

How the Gun Became Integral to the Self-Identity of Millions of Americans

Not a new article, but its pertinent.

Over the past 150 years, American gun owners have gone from viewing their weapons largely as utilitarian farm tools to weapons that provide both a feeling of physical security and a sense of psychological solace. Guns’ importance to their owners now goes much deeper than merely being implements of self-defense.

University of Wisconsin–Madison researcher and assistant professor Nick Buttrick studies the psychological relationship that millions of Americans have with their guns. Buttrick’s research builds on the historical record to show that in the U.S.—the only country with more civilian firearms than people—white Southerners started cultivating the tradition of the home arsenal immediately after the Civil War because of insecurities and racial fears. During the rest of the 19th century, those anxieties metamorphosized into a fetishization of the firearm to the point that, in the present day, gun owners view their weapons as adding meaning and a sense of purpose to their lives.

Buttrick, who gave a talk on his research at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) earlier this month, contends that gun owners see their world as an increasingly tumultuous place and that guns have become a tool for keeping that perceived chaos at bay. Scientific American spoke with Buttrick about the psychological roots of the gun culture that has contributed to the more than 100 mass shootings that have occurred in the U.S. so far this year.


What are the roots of the U.S.’s obsession with gun ownership? And when did the motivation for having guns move from largely using them for utilitarian purposes and sport to using them as a tool for protection?

The historical literature shows that in the early American period in the 18th and beginning of the 19th century, we had a different relationship with guns than we do today. A gun was treated as a tool for hunting, pest control and other tasks around the farm. The advertisements of the time painted guns as something that helped you live your life rather than something used for protection. While there was an armed militia to ward off foreign invaders, guns were centrally stored in an armory, not kept individually.

Read more: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-the-gun-became-integral-to-the-self-identity-of-millions-of-americans/

Profile Information

Member since: Mon Oct 1, 2012, 04:10 PM
Number of posts: 16,709

Journal Entries

Latest Discussions»milestogo's Journal