Culture Wars/Current Controversies

The Psychology of Gun Control

By Michael Parish

The Psychology of Gun ControlThe gun issue in black and white.


In America, the discussion of political issues is an endless and perpetually inconclusive cycle: Party mouthpieces formulate stock arguments, and the media disseminates them to the rank and file, who then absorb and regurgitate them. They are then repeated ad nauseam whenever a well-publicized event returns the question to the limelight. Solutions are never discovered. This has been standard procedure for at least the last three generations who, incapable of seeing outside the narrow parameters of bipartisan debate, accept it as the norm. But why?

Politics is not an academic discipline and does not involve the abstractions of that milieu; its matters and its terms are direct and concrete. Its subjects are familiar on a functional level to the majority of the population. If objective truth does exist then the questions being asked in the political milieu should end in objective answers. If Americans can calculate solutions to algebraic equations, they should certainly be able to do the same for poverty, crime, energy, and healthcare.

This has not happened, from which I infer two things: (1) that Americans are truly ignorant of what they speak about politically; and (2) their reason for engaging in political debate is self and partisan promotion, not the actual search for solutions.

Here it is noted that, like everything else in mass democracy, one’s political orientation is commercial, in other words a consumer choice. People select views (prepackaged for them) that satisfy their psychological disposition, and this reflects them in not only the political, but also the human dimension. Politics is merely a smokescreen for culture, fashion, and interpersonal interaction.

Conservatism and Liberalism function, not only as filters for reality perception, but as subcultures. Hence, they can be studied sociologically in the same manner as the music and art scenes.

One feature of subcultures is the possession of their own built in lexicon, a collection of terms used only by their members, and only to phatically communicate within the group. This is cliché regurgitation, and it is understandable: subcultures are the vehicle through which people satisfy their mental drives, mutually reinforcing each other in the process. Original thought – or thought at all – is not the point; nor is reference to things outside the group or interaction with people outside the group.

When analyzing the terms used within the subculture you will detect similarities between them and patterns will emerge. What are the most commonly heard terms in the liberal vocabulary? “Tolerance,” “sensitivity,” “inclusion,” “diversity,” “equality,” “humanity”…all phonetically soft, bright, and feminine. They all please the liberal ear in a manner.

Even if they are all essentially restatements of each other, each still possesses its own star in the liberal zodiac. Public figures use buzzwords for their emotive, rather than intellectual content; as such, their weight is connotative rather than denotative. Notice also that since the decline of Marxism the left has draped its periodicals, websites and t-shirts in aqua colors, all understood to evoke peace and tranquility.

Conservatism, for its part, is no different. The character it presents and the personality it attracts differ, but the dynamics uniting the two do not. Where the liberal’s lexicon is soft and feminine the conservative’s is hard and masculine: “tradition,” “hierarchy,” “history,” “nation” and all its derivatives. Note also the colors favored by the Right: earth tones.

It can be seen that the force driving politics is irrational, fueled by subjective preferences valued without reason. If politics is a manifestation of psychology, then so are such areas as culture, lifestyle, and pastimes, explaining the high rate of correlation between the two. One of our society’s central conceits, that people form their views after active research and modify them when presented with contradictory information, is a falsehood. Gun control, having recently returned to the limelight with the shooting in Newton, Connecticut, illustrates this.

But it is not even about gun control, as that would require dealing with issues and other people in a hard-headed and realistic way far beyond their emotional comfort zones. Instead it is merely about espousing gun control for consumption within the sub-cultural group. It is all about preaching to the choir, and ignoring the awkward realities beyond the swell of their own droning organ.

Would-be gun grabbers are invariably the products of urban areas in which gun ownership is not part of the culture; it is the rare exception. Their knowledge of guns, gun owners, and the issues, habits, and traditions that drive gun-ownership is miniscule. It never extends beyond the caricatures portrayed in popular culture.

Moreover, these people are “the Other.” They inhabit small towns in rural areas, where the ratio of church attendance and heterogeneity is unacceptable. Such are not America, or at least not what they wish America to be. In the liberal fantasy, they need to be redesigned so as to become unrecognizable, to fit the encroaching zeitgeist, but, again, this is essentially a fantasy.

Guns have no place in the antiseptic utopia that Liberals create as a group-wank-fantasy every time their subgroup interacts. In moments like this, Liberals naively believe that their motivation for stripping cultural and intellectual inferiors of their favorite toys would be a desire for public safety; in reality, their motivations are purely a matter of sub-cultural group interaction and acceptance.

Politics is a conflict of tribes, and of subjectivities. Who is the winner? Is it the man with the best information, most logically valid arguments, and finest ethical credentials? Of course not, for such a man exists in the desolate no-man’s land between the self-affirming and self-isolating herds of the subjective and emotionally-driven subcultures.

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