The Myth of the Monolithic Gun Culture

Keith Coniglio

It would be nice to think that we gun owners are a culture - that we share certain core values; that we can be counted upon to support each other; that our motives and actions would be universally understood among "our kind."

But, as we repeatedly explain to those opposed to gun ownership, a gun is just a tool. And possession of an inanimate object does not guarantee any correlation to personal beliefs or predictable decisions. Like any population of considerable size, gun-owners have a considerable range of personalities.

There are those who enjoy competitive shooting or hunting, but are disdainful of "paranoid people who need to carry one everywhere" - and tend to say worse things about those owning military-style guns. Their activity defines the perceived purpose of all guns, and therefore what guns people should be allowed to own.

There are those who own a gun for their profession but who actually dislike having to have one. Because they only associate the need for it with violence, the gun comes to represent something they fear and resent - and so do "gun nuts" who don't share those feelings.

There are gun owners who don't actually care about using their guns - or your right to possess them - because they collect them for financial reasons. They see guns only as investments, and will happily support gun control if it means keeping their "rarities" rare.

Some gun owners live where our Second Amendment right has been reduced to a government privilege, requiring them to jump through burdensome bureaucratic hoops and making them a "special class" in their local community. While they might not admit it publicly (or to themselves), they resent those who can just walk in and buy a gun like it's nothing.

Some celebrities and politicians take that a step further, portraying themselves as being representative of "gun owners" while really seeing such ownership as a caste privilege. They allow the perception of some moral kinship to flourish while supporting restrictive laws, safe in the knowledge that they will be exempt from them.

Gun-owners are not one monolithic bloc, and you will find characteristics that define and divide us even among the staunchest supporters of our Second Amendment rights. Denying that those differences and biases exist, assuming that you will be understood and supported simply because we're all gun owners, can lead to ugly surprises, disappointment, and widening of those separations.

Our challenge, if we are to preserve our rights, is to find the commonality hidden among those divergent positions; to find the chord that resonates through the disharmony; to illustrate to those with vastly differing beliefs that a lessening of freedom for any of us weakens the protection we all enjoy as citizens. It’s not about "you’re wrong" but about "our right."

Choose your words and actions accordingly.

Keith Coniglio is a father, software tester, NRA-certified pistol instructor, and devoted Second Amendment advocate. He is also the editor-in-chief of Descendants of Liberty Press, a site dedicated to rekindling Americans’ passion for - and defense of - their Constitutional rights and personal liberty.