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Why Are Some Gun Owners Against Reasonable Gun Control?

Mike has written many articles on guns and the 2nd amendment. He has a way of presenting complex issues in an easy-to-understand way.

What drives both sides of the gun control debate?

What drives both sides of the gun control debate?

Why Are Some People Against Gun Control?

I wrote an article on gun control and the Second Amendment that currently has received 916 comments from both the Gun Control People (GCP) and the Anti-Gun Control People (AGCP). I'm using GCP and AGCP as a means of brevity throughout the remainder of this article. There have been heated debates, arguments, and insults from both sides. I pretty much know the values and beliefs of GCP, but I have been doing research and analysis of the values and beliefs of the AGCP. I have a need to understand what they are thinking and feeling.

Core Beliefs of Both Sides

The core belief of the average GCP is that they believe that common-sense gun control will reduce senseless killings by mass shooters. On the other hand, the AGCP’s core belief is that reasonable gun control will not reduce mass shootings and is a waste of time, and what we should be focused on is all murders, by whatever means. There are many arguments that come out of the playbooks on both sides, but it seems like neither side is going to believe or accept the views of the other side.

Understanding AGCP: Starting at the Beginning

To understand the AGCP mentality, one has to get in the way back machine and go back to their childhood. More than likely, they grew up around gun people and learned how to shoot at an early age. I also grew up around guns. My dad was an avid hunter. To this day, I have two Winchester Model 12, 12 gauge, full choke shotguns. One was my dad’s, and the other was mine. I also have a Winchester Model 270 rifle with a Weaver K-25 scope mount.

When I was hunting, I always felt that the gun was an extension of my will. Wherever I aimed it and shot, it gave me a feeling of satisfaction and control, and it was fun to shoot. In another life, while in high school, I also took a correspondence course in taxidermy. I used to shoot animals and learned how to mount them.

I joined the Air Force when I was 17 1/2 and when I was discharged four years later, something changed in me. I no longer wanted to hunt, but I would take my video camera and take movies of flights of geese in wildlife reserves. I believe that change in me was due in part to my new values and beliefs. At that point, I never felt that I had to own a gun to protect myself or my family because I could always count on law enforcement to protect me. It is important to note that sentence because that is one of the key factors that is the difference between GCP and AGCP.

The following graphs and statistics are from the Pew Research Center's representative survey of 3,930 U.S. adults, including 1,269 gun owners. It was conducted March 13 to 27 and April 4 to 18, 2017, using the Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel.1

U.S. adults in a household with a gun

U.S. adults in a household with a gun

Why Do People Want to Own Guns?

There are many reasons people feel the need to own a firearm.

Protection: In all the replies that I received from AGCP, protection was the main reason for owning guns. They want to protect themselves from any perceived threat, including any infringement on their privacy. This is especially important in rural America, where the time for law enforcement to get to a threat may take longer than if the gun owner handled the threat themselves.

Recreation: Target shooting and hunting are two recreational activities that gun owners enjoy. Also, collecting guns is a hobby that is not only fun but can be lucrative as well.

Insecurity: Guns can be used as great equalizers, even if they are not fired. They give the gun owner a feeling of security that he or she may not have had without the guns.

Social and Culture Pressures: Having the greatest and latest is a human trait, and many gun owners want the latest and greatest guns and/or accessories. The gun industry and the NRA promote the benefits of gun ownership, which results in selling more firearms.

The Media: The media and entertainment industry show the use of guns, saving the day. This heroic factor motivates people to own guns.

Reasons for owning a gun

Reasons for owning a gun

Why Don't Mass Shootings Motivate Gun Owners to Support Gun Control?

In many of the replies I have received from AGCP, I’ve noticed that mass shootings don’t really move them emotionally. I have asked myself many times, when is enough, enough and what does it take to convince these people?

In my research, I have found that it is a matter of priority for them. Yes, they do feel grief, but when it comes to banning any further sale of weapons that are used in mass killings, they act like they don’t hear the words “any further sale.” What they do hear and believe is, "they are coming to confiscate all my guns, either now or in the future."

Why Is Gun Ownership More Common Among Conservatives Than Liberals?

Many of the AGCPs are conservatives, and many of the GCP are liberals. I have found there is a marked difference in their values and belief systems. Conservatives tend to be more aware and sensitive to their surroundings in terms of a negative environment. They require more order and structure in their lives. In today’s world, they see things like guns giving them a semblance of control and order that they wouldn’t have had otherwise. They feel assured knowing they can protect themselves if all else fails.

Liberals, on the other hand, tend to be more open to new experiences with less order and novelty. They tend to believe that the government and law enforcement will protect them.

Gun ownership by political party

Gun ownership by political party

Psychological Studies Show Differences in Conservatives vs. Liberals Regarding Gun Control

Behavioral Psychologists Chris Mooney and psychologist John Jost wrote in Behavioral and Brain Sciences in 2014:

"The one organizing element of the many differences between liberals and conservatives is the nature of their physiological and psychological responses to features of the environment that are negative. Compared with liberals, conservatives tend to register greater physiological responses to such stimuli and also to devote more psychological resources to them.

As Jost and colleagues summarize: "Research consistently finds that conservatism is positively associated with a heightened need and knowledge for order, structure, closure, certainty, consistency, simplicity, and familiarity, as well as existential concerns such as perceptions of danger, sensitivity to threat, and death anxiety."

Psychologists also use a five-factor OCEAN model to assess a set of five core personality traits. They are Openness to experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.

Mark Mellman, head of a polling group for many notable politicians, found while using the OCEAN model that liberals are more open to new experiences, novelty and disruption; conservatives prefer stability and the status quo. Liberals are more tolerant of mess, ambiguity, and uncertainty; conservatives prefer tidiness, clarity, and certainty.

It should be noted that "conservatives" and "liberals" in this context refer to the continuum of left and right, not one extreme or the other.

Party and ideology in the context of gun ownership

Party and ideology in the context of gun ownership

My New Understanding

I can now understand why AGCP have a strong tendency to support the Second Amendment; it does fit their psychological profile with the need for law and order. The GCP, on the other hand, is always looking for change and does not have the need for as much order and control as AGCP. Therefore, they lean more toward reasonable gun control legislation.

I also now understand why AGCP feel burdened with any further gun control because they feel they already have orderly lives and they feel they are law-abiding citizens. Why should they have to comply with more rules that are not going to help them? Also, I can understand why the word “control” upsets them. It’s because they feel they already have control, and if they give that control to more legislative policies and procedures, then they lose their control.

The Real Problem (Why There Are Mass Shootings)

Now that I have written this article. I see the real reason there are mass shootings. It is because the people who commit almost all of these shootings are mentally unstable in one form or another. I believe one has to be unbalanced to take someone’s life unless it is in self-defense, law enforcement, or war.

Unfortunately, the only way we can tell if these heinous crimes are going to be committed is after the fact. The real question is, how do we foretell when these people are going to commit these crimes? Institutionalizing them is one way, but in the 1980s, Reagan defunded those institutions and put those people on the street. To add to that, we now have HIPPA laws that protect people's health records from unauthorized access.

HIPAA is an Acronym that stands for the Health Insurance Portability and AccountabilityAct, a US law designed to provide privacy standards to protect patients' medical records and other health information provided to health plans, doctors, hospitals and other health care providers.


The following questions are rated on a scale of 1-5, where 1 is you totally disbelieve and 5 is you totally believe.

If you are interested in the in-depth study and statistics of gun issues, here is the link at Pew Research Center.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2018 Mike Russo