Is there really any rational basis for the idea of gun control? Or is it just a desperate grasping for some kind of symbolic control after an outbreak of mass violence? Or is it something even deeper? On its face the idea of gun control is ridiculous. Conservatives, libertarians and gun enthusiasts have been making the same basic points for years whenever the issue comes up in response to whatever the latest mass shooting incident happens to be. The fact that there will be such incidents is a social inevitability at this point.
The simple argument is that whatever the latest mass murder happens to be, it was the act of a deranged or vengeful criminal and law abiding folks ought not be deprived of their means of recreation and self defense for the crimes of another. Such shooting rampages inevitably happen in areas where the shooter is the only armed individual and thus faces no resistance. Criminals, and particularly those driven enough to carry out such a rampage, will find a way to arm themselves one way or the other no matter what the law may be. Gun restrictions would only leave the law abiding defenseless against such psychopaths. Some even assert that the proper response ought to be putting more guns in more hands rather than vice-versa.
Some of these points have merit, and some may be stretching it, but the fact remains that gun control is just damned impractical. It cannot actually be done with anything close to the degree of effectiveness that the liberal fanatics would wish. There are hundreds of millions of firearms in private hands in the US. The culture of gun ownership is a part of the fabric of society in areas outside of the liberal havens of the Northeast. Any attempt to ban or restrict guns will inevitably lead to far more social unrest and potential violence than it would ever solve. Even if one finds this distasteful, it is the only conclusion that can be drawn based on a sober assessment of reality.
Yet the issue is still pushed with religious fervor by the true believers and social crusaders. Gun rights groups and gun owners are cast as evil accomplices to murder by these do-gooders merely for engaging in pro-gun advocacy. Such was the case earlier today when members of the women’s protest group “Code Pink” — a sort of liberal, feminist version of the Westboro Baptist Church — interrupted an NRA press conference by screaming slogans and unfurling a banner accusing the NRA of guilt by proxy in the recent school killings.
How to explain this? Why such hysterics over the NRA, a fairly moderate and mainstream group by most standards? Do these women really think that they can stop such outbreaks of violence merely by passing some petty bureaucratic measures, all the while continuing to hide their heads in the sand about the real social roots of the “mass shooter” phenomenon?
The answer is that killings and violence are not really the issue as far as the deeper impulses and desires these women have to ban or restrict access to firearms. The fact that it was a feminist group protesting the NRA is not an accident. Gun control is an issue that has historically been pushed by feminist and women’s groups. It comes down to the psychological roots of feminism and the desperate need of such women to control, manage and limit male agency. Essentially gun control is an attempt to perform a symbolic castration of all men in society, in particular those men that would outwardly manifest strength and a will to power by owning a gun, being committed to self defense and engaging in hunting or sportsmanship with firearms.
A gun is an obvious symbol of male power, sexuality and virility. This is the real reason why the gun issue is such an emotional flashpoint for feminists and prompts them to frantic outbursts such as the one at the NRA press conference. Unfortunately as our society gets ever more feminized, as masculinity is ever more marginalized and the traditional male virtues of strength, agency and vitality are ever more demonized, a growing number of virtually cuckolded liberal beta males can be expected to fall in line with this agenda and willingly castrate themselves on the altar of feminism. And of course in a democracy politicians are all too willing to indulge this sort of movement in exchange for power.
In a 1994 research paper titled “Sex and Guns: Is Gun Control Male Control?” Canadian sociologist H. Taylor Buckner documented three surveys he conducted of his undergraduate students concerning their attitudes on guns and gun control. He concluded that:
…students who were pro gun control were also pro homosexual, pro censorship of pornography, and not experienced with guns.
…men and women have different patterns of motivation for being pro gun control. The men who favor gun control are those who reject traditional male roles and behavior. They are opposed to hunting, are pro homosexual, do not have any experience with or knowledge of guns and tend to have “politically correct” attitudes. The women who support gun control do so in the context of controlling male violence and sexuality. Gun control is thus symbolic of a realignment of the relation between the sexes.
One of the exercises in the survey invited students to do a sentence completion exercise to express in their own words their feelings on guns, gun owners, gun clubs and hunting. The responses are revealing:
When I think of Gun Clubs, I think… (female, unfavorable)
People who seek power/control… Boys trying to prove their value… No guns whatsoever should be allowed anywhere… I am totally against those clubs, first of all guns should not exist, only purpose is killing people and animals… Violent men with a violent pastime… Men collected there to show off their strength and women who go along with it… Of heartless men and wonder about why they attend those clubs; I hate gun clubs… Fear, unacceptable activity… Men who have something to prove by acting “macho.” They are dangerous to society and to themselves… Masochistic people who have to live their lives behind a gun in fear… Kinky, weird people… Ignorance, uneducated… Power through sick minds. Violence.
The psychology here should be apparent. The idea of powerful males or males expressing some sort of dominance, even if only in imagination, is clearly distressing to these women. Their immediate response is to want to control it and shut it down, to appeal to a higher power to enforce the rules on those naughty men and boys. The general hostility and suspicion with which feminists regard male only or “boys club” type social spaces is also at play.
To further hammer home the point that the desire for gun control is essentially irrational and not based on any facts or real world knowledge Buckner tested the students on their own personal knowledge and experience with guns and then correlated those results with their attitudes on gun control. He found:
Less than 1% knew that there is a five year penalty for an unregistered handgun (the most frequent guess was a $500 fine). Only 6% knew that handguns account for less than 20% of the murders in Canada (most guessed that it was around two-thirds, as in the U.S.). Only 11% knew the difference between a rifle and a shotgun. Thirty-two percent knew that the magazine of a gun does not have a trigger. Figure 5 shows, knowledge of the subject is not widespread. Pro gun control attitudes do not appear to depend on knowledge or rationality.
Figure 6 The less knowledge of and experience with guns a student has the more pro gun control they are. In fact, the more experience and knowledge one has of guns the lower the support for gun control.
It is clear from these results that the gun control attitude is not an informed opinion that one comes to after sober reflection and analysis. Rather is a product of ignorance, irrational fear and the desire to control and manage what is perceived as the threat of out of control male sexuality and agency. Gun control is castration.