The hysterical gun control debate is so deeply irrational that it is obvious something rising up from the dark recesses of the lizard brain is going on. Yet, very little research is available on the subject, possibly because the NRA managed to get a ban on research on gun violence.
There is no shortage of guns in the United States; in fact there are more guns per capita in the United States than anywhere else in the world. The second most gun-owning nation is Yemen. So it’s not that there is a shortage of guns. There are so many guns, in fact, that it is highly improbable that most gun owners are “gun nuts.” I suspect most gun owners are like my own family, who grew up in the country, enjoyed hunting and believed the second amendment covers their guns.
Here’s an area with almost no research: It is self-evident that guns are phallic symbols; power symbols, penis symbols. Lacking a penis, I am unqualified to comment on how I would feel if someone wanted to take mine, even symbolically. I did have four brothers and a dozen boy cousins and they seemed to be very fond of their penises. From their numerous conversations on the subject, I gather that having a large penis is important on the power hierarchy. Contrary to Freud, I did not envy their penises and, in fact, thought that it was a tremendous disadvantage in a fight to have sensitive body parts readily available for a swift kick.
Penises aside, during the 2008 election at a home Bible study, I found my normally cheerful friends full of fear. They were afraid Obama would nationalize the banks. I pointed out that George Bush had already done so the week before. They were afraid that Obama was going to install a Muslim caliphate. I pointed out that he said he was a Christian and was known to drink beer and eat barbequed pork. They said Obama was going to take away their guns.
Where were my friends getting these ideas? Emails were circulating with these (and worse) allegations and my friends were forwarding them to each other. Sounds like something Karl Rove would jump start. Obama was black and he was going to get revenge for 200 years of slavery. He was going to disarm everyone, gather them into FEMA camps and kill them. I asked my friends who would benefit? Nobody undertakes big projects unless they benefit.
My friends had not thought that far ahead. They seemed to think that evil people just do evil things because they are evil.
My friends were no doubt crushed by the story of 20 little children brutally murdered in Sandy Hook. I am sure some of them broke down and cried. Some of them changed their minds about assault rifles, because they are decent people. But wait? Weren’t they warned back in 2008? Aren’t Obama’s (mild) gun control proposals just the first step on the slippery slope to the death camps?
Fear is a powerful motivator. It disables the rational part of our brain. This is a useful tool for the manipulators of public opinion.
Those who manipulate the public by tweaking deep, unconscious fears to increase their political power are the ones with blood on their hands. When the right to stay alive conflicts with the right to bear arms, it’s time to talk about it like sane people.