Gun Cultures versus Anti-Gun Cultures: A thought exercise.
I originally sat down to write an article about gun control/personal armaments restrictions in speculative fiction. This turned out to be a much more daunting task than I originally imagined. So instead I’m going to compare the idea of gun cultures versus the idea of anti-gun culture. Note that I’m not discussing whether or not guns are banned I’m only talking about how the culture views firearms.
For the purposes of this article cultures can be split into five categories.
Cult of the Gun
I’m going to describe in each turn and having a bit of fun at the extremes.
Hoplophobia is the fear of guns and the hoplophobic culture views guns as the root cause of all that is evil in their society. Guns are inherently corrupting and dangerous. Guns are unholy, cursed and spread their blight onto anyone who uses one. The gun itself takes control and overpowers the user destroying their socially indoctrinated moral center. The gun is to blame for the crime not the criminal. Of course the criminal will have to deposed of; having been tainted by the gun but it is the gun itself that bears responsibility, not the person or any person; especially the persons in power.
The common people are completely unfamiliar with guns and for the most part know them only from the hysterical stories and myths told about them in the media. People upon seeing a gun are afraid to touch it less they be harmed by the black magic lingering within the monster.
In a hoplophobic culture all weapons legal or otherwise are kept out of sight in order to avoid causing alarm and panic. Only the holy sanctified guns of law enforcement are tolerated and they are to be used as sparingly as possible.
Stepping back from the madness we come to the anti-gun culture; where guns are still unwelcome and regarded with suspicion but are not accorded any supernatural powers. Guns and gun users are looked down upon by the more respectable parts of society. Guns are demonized in the media and if the common people understand that these gun stories are exaggerated they lack actual hands on experience with guns themselves. Simply seeing a gun makes people nervous and unsure how to react.
In an anti-gun culture open carry is considered an affront to the entire society. Concealed carry is the norm if still considered highly suspicious. After all you wouldn’t want your neighbors to see you with a gun or they might think badly of you..
Gun Neutral Culture:
In a gun neutral culture the general population is familiar with firearms but not completely comfortable with them. The rate of firearm ownership is considerable or even fairly high but the level of skill and training is low. Guns are not discussed in polite company but they are silently acknowledged as part of the society and one of its tools.
Open carry is noteworthy in gun neutral culture and considered slightly rude but it does not in and of itself cause alarm or panic. Concealed carry is regarded as suspicious or paranoid but people are entitled to their delusions.
In a pro-gun culture guns and gun users are respected and admired. There is a high level of firearms knowledge throughout the society. Firearm metaphors and terminology are found throughout popular sayings and folklore. An honest man is a “straight shooter” an intelligent man is “quick on the draw.” Guns are celebrated throughout the media and popular entertainment. Heroes have shiny guns, villains have black guns or dirty and rusted ones.
There is no fear of guns in a pro-gun culture. If a gun is drawn in anger people do not stare at the gun but instead quickly look and evaluate the person who is holding the gun because that is what matters not the inanimate object.
In a pro-gun culture open carry is normalized and frequently done as a sign of status. Concealed carry is also taken for granted and it is generally assumed that everyone has a gun or can get one on short notice.
Extreme Gun Culture: (Cult of the Gun)
For this one we’ll have to use our imaginations a little. So what would an extreme gun culture look like? Say one that might arise in 22nd century France after the Second Reconquista? Or perhaps at a Larry Correia fan meet up at a NRA convention in North Texas two days after another Obama gungrabber speech.
In an extreme gun culture the gun is a central part of society. Considered highly symbolic and almost religious in nature. Guns aren’t just tools or even weapons they are a man’s pride and honor. Great care in taken is cleaning and maintaining firearms; in acquiring skill in using them and in passing on that skill and experience on to others. A man without a gun is not a complete member of society and such outcasts will go to great efforts to acquire a suitable firearm. Even old wore out guns are treated with respect.
Paradoxically guns are so common in everyday life that media and storytelling can’t rely on gun stories to provide cheap easy drama. Storytelling instead focuses on great sweeping virtues and questions of morality. Firearms are merely props and the stars of the show are the men and women who must decide whether and when to use their guns. Does the hero pull the trigger? Can he make a difficult shot? Is it best to walk away from this fight or must he make a stand here and now?
Open carry is normal and some cases it’s part of the dress code. Concealed carry is considered sneaky, underhanded and dishonorable if somewhat more practical. Some men compromise and carry two guns.
Gun ownership is near universal and no one in under any delusion that guns are magical. It is the role of gun in this culture that is important not merely as a tool but as a uniting factor and a symbol of who they are. After all does not all power come from the barrel of a gun and the will to aim and fire? It is not gun that matters so much as it is the people who have the guns. In a extreme gun culture it is the people who have the guns, who have the skill to use them effectively and more importantly who have the will to use them… and no-one can take that away from them.
The gun is not their god. However God made Man and men in turn made guns. A turn of events that God no doubt had in mind from the moment of creation.