The left argues that gun owners are insecure, paranoid, and trigger happy
The New York Times reports that social scientists are examining why people want guns. The conclusions are bad for gun owners. Writes the Times, American gun owners are (check notes) insecure, paranoid, suicidal, and trigger-happy. Look closely at what the article says, though, and it’s just arrant nonsense.
The essay, “Why Some Americans Buy Guns,” promises to explain how “Sociologists are just beginning to understand who is buying guns and how gun ownership makes them feel.” Naturally, it opens with a parade of horribles: More Americans are buying guns, and more people are being killed by guns. Between 2019 and 2020, gun sales rose by 64%, while homicides increased from 14,392 to 19,350.
Here’s a tip: Whenever someone uses different calculations for comparisons, be suspicious. While sales rose by 64%, homicides rose by only 34%. Consider, too, that 2020 was the year Democrats destroyed policing across America while leftist prosecutors turned the criminal justice system into a revolving door. The Times’s correlation is dicey at best, and the causation is impossible to prove.
But it is true that, as people watched Black Lives Matter and Antifa rampage through American cities and towns while police retreated, a new type of gun buyer arose in America:
Image: Gun counter at Sears in Syracuse, NY, 1941. Public domain.
Of the 7.5 million people who bought their first firearm during that period, a survey found, 5.4 million had until then lived in homes without guns.
The new buyers were different from the white men who have historically made up a majority of gun owners. Half were women, and nearly half were people of color (20 percent were Black, and 20 percent were Hispanic).
Sociological research, which is a decidedly unscientific science, managed to nail the primary reason these new buyers were in the gun market: Self-defense. Or, the essay implies, paranoia:
But a study of individuals who said they were planning to purchase a first or second firearm during the early days of the pandemic found that would-be buyers were more likely to see the world as dangerous and threatening than individuals who were not planning to purchase a firearm.
Those planning to buy firearms were more likely to agree strongly with statements like “People can’t be trusted,” “People are not what they seem” and “You need to watch your back,” compared with those not planning a purchase, noted Dr. Anestis, an author of the study.
Buyers were also more fearful of uncertainty. They tended to strongly agree with statements such as “Unforeseen events upset me greatly” and “I don’t like not knowing what comes next.”
You just know that the Times writer finds it incomprehensible that, absent police, people would fear predators and take steps to protect themselves.
More guns, inevitably, meant more guns were used in suicides, as opposed to alternative methods. We also know that South Korea, the nation with the highest suicide rates, has some of the world’s strictest gun laws. Again, correlation and causation just don’t meet up without brute force.
The article notes that improperly stored guns are a risk to young people. True. If you have children, you must spend the extra money to keep your guns safe. A gun safety class is wise, too.
The wackiest part of the article is reading that sociologists gave students from gun-owning homes mild electrical shocks to see whether they felt more comfort from a friend’s hand or a mock gun. Those students did, while students unfamiliar with guns experienced anxiety holding them. This was supposed to be analogous to a 2006 study showing that women, when given a mild shock, gained comfort from their husbands’ hands.
Based on the Times’s description of the study, it’s flawed on its face. First, a friend is not a spouse, so the emotional connection is different. Second, the study is valid only if the wives in 2006 were also given a mock gun to hold in comparison. Third, if your limbic system perceives a threat and you were raised knowing that guns are a great form of defense (better, probably, than your friend), you might also find that gun comforting.
As for the students unfamiliar with guns feeling anxiety holding them, that’s probably because (a) they’ve been indoctrinated to fear them and (b) a gun, like any other tool, is something requiring safety training and learned familiarity. Sociology really is junk science.
The article then insists that guns don’t keep you safe because they raise the risk of homicide. However, the New York Times ignores the CDC study showing that the defensive use of guns outweighs the risk by an overwhelming factor.
Finally, these crackpot researchers now want to show that, just as to a hammer everything is a nail, to a gun owner, everything is a legitimate target. I wouldn’t trust that conclusion, either.
Here’s the bottom line: Guns are tools that can be handled wisely or poorly. A healthy gun culture would teach wise handling, just as it would emphasize law-abiding conduct. There is no greater killer in the world than a government that turns against its citizens, something always preceded by disarming those same citizens. Hurricane Katrina showed that, when seconds count, police are days away.
Finally, the New York Times and sociologists should not be trusted. This attempt to combine opposition to leftism with mental imbalance is a tactic right out of the Soviet Union.