America’s Gun Culture

It seems to be that Americans are obsessed with high powered weapons in today’s society. Perhaps it is attached to a degree of pride that one feels, a maximal mode of protection, or ultimately, because they can. Although there are many ethical questions that surface with gun control in mind, this essay aims to analyze whether it is in the best interest that guns be a part of mainstream American culture. To set the stage, there is a brief analysis of nearly everything done by The History Cooperative’s A Brief Introduction to Guns in American Culture. For a broader overview on gun policy in the US, Ruth Igielnik and Anna Brown from the Pew Research Center share eight culminations of America’s gun ownership in their findings from Key Takeaways on Americans’ Views on Guns and Gun Ownership. To zoom into the main focus, philosophical ideas were analyzed from Michael Kocsis’ essay Gun Ownership and Gun Control in the United States of America and Gun Control or Gun Culture?: Firearms, Violence, and Society by Peter Squires.

Dating back to the American Revolutionary War, American society have expressed an obsession over guns. There are famous paintings of generals with guns by their side and soldiers shooting in action. Later, a huge attraction toward gun use was during the era of cowboys. How has gun usage made its way into today’s American culture? According to The History Cooperative’s, the Westward Expansion has been a precursor for most of gun use today because of its “exciting yet dangerous place” and to survive they needed to have the utmost protection: guns. (History Cooperative) The intention of heading west in pursuit of new contingencies became an important symbol of the American dream, and “through film and television, this moment in American history became strongly linked with guns.” (History Cooperative) Although the Western expansion and cowboys have passed, guns have earned its status as a “protector of the American dream.” (History Cooperative)

In addition, Industrialization had an immense impact on the economy and how guns impacted the way American industries administered itself. This initial advance in manufacturing paved way to gun manufacturing. Serving as a “major sector in the US economy”, numerous studies support “the firearm industry to be worth over $30 billion, which is roughly equivalent to the national budget of Nigeria.” (History Cooperative) However, on a more uplifting note, guns have estimated over 200,000 job opportunities. (History Cooperative) As the manufacturing industries are advancing and expanding it can either be a leading leverage in government policies or a flourishing factor of the nation’s economy, which both heavily steer the cultural norms of society.

As Americans have had a deep history and connection with guns, the majority of Americans agree that gun ownership encompass the traditions and values of society. In Michael Kocsis’ philosophical essay, Gun Ownership and Gun Culture in the United States of America, he examines particular topics pertaining to gun control that do not receive enough attention. Kocsis defines ‘culture’ as the “collective way of life, those practices and institutions a people have created by processes largely of their own making” and acknowledges that gun ownership is implanted in American politics. (Kocsis, 158) He argues that gun ownership is “enshrined constitutionally based on a certain interpretation of American values of liberty and property” meaning that popular (widely accepted) ideas or practices influence the interpretation of the constitution. Although it can be argued whether they had a positive influence, many influential figures such as Daniel Boone, John Wayne, and Colonel Kurtz have helped shape these traditions. Their influences have evolved into subcultures that imply a “dangerous new evolution of guns in American culture”, a term Kocsis refers to as “gangsterism”. (Kocsis, 168) He offers important insights on how “the prevalence of fear is likely the most significant rationale for gun ownership.” and to back himself up he adds theories from a philosopher, Will Hauser, whom has determined that “guns and fear are related asymmetrically” meaning that there is an automatic persuasion for those who do not already own guns to get them out of fear. (Kocsis, 168) Therefore, from a societal aspect, guns have the ability to pose some sort of solution. In modern day society, wider issues have surfaced from the negative impacts of gun ownership. In Peter Squires book, Gun Culture or Gun Control?: Firearms, Violence, and Safety, Squires explores the different attitudes toward firearms and their control in the US. Armed violence has creeped its way from liberal politics into domestic policy. Squires mentions “firearms manufacturers liked to present their weapons as adjuncts to the democratic and civilizing process, firearms were equalizers or peacemakers” making them seem like an easy fix toward fear. (Squires) In other words, if one does not have this advantage over other citizens then they are considered a cultural taboo. He also argues that the “criminally inclined find a use for firearms just as military technologies come to be employed in the developing ‘war’ against crime” offering a mode of power and freedom. (Squires) This has been grounded by historical eras and/or figures when America was initially founded that continues to ignite sharp debates in American society. Current day gun policies have been mostly driven by political party identification; republicans being for gun ownership and democrats being for no gun ownership however, both parties support restriction on gun laws. Ruth Igielnik and Anna Brown from the Pew Research Center are recognized by their ability to look at political dilemmas through a societal lens through their publication Key Takeaways on Americans’ Views of Guns and Gun Ownership. One of their key takeaways from their national survey include that protection is the top reason for owning a gun (67%). According to Igielnik and Brown, “Majorities of gun owners who live in cities, suburbs and rural areas say protection is a major reason they own firearms. But owners who live in rural areas are significantly more likely to cite hunting as a major reason for owning a gun.” agreeing that gun ownership is a societal norm. (Igielnik and Brown) There is also a partisan dividing views on gun policy for example, “Republican gun owners are much more resistant than Democratic owners to banning assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines as well as creating a database to track gun sales.” (Igielnik and Brown) This is only one debate that has recently surfaced due to mass shootings, school shootings, and gun crimes. As far as the gun conversation goes, there’s no way to really tell whether someone that gets their hands on a gun will use it with the ethical intent. Along with other prevalent political issues, gun control isn’t mainly focused on until someone gets shot or lives are stripped, and the aftermath causes emotions to run too high for an ethical debate over this controversy. From a historical standpoint and since the US was born, guns were raised to be a means of protection and economical boost. A cultural norm has risen that the majority of US citizens do own a gun that can either be argued as beneficial or dangerous to society. Now, battling between gun ownerships are leading political parties that steer policies on current gun laws. Many view guns as ‘an easy way out’ and much controversy still stands on gun control such as, being to own or not to own guns, and if one can, who is eligible?, and what precautions should be taken under laws, beliefs, or identities? All of these questions can be aimed at the central debate over the interest that guns be a part of mainstream American culture.   Works Cited Igielnik, Ruth, and Anna Brown. “Key Takeaways on Americans’ Views of Guns and Gun Ownership.” Pew Research Center, 22 June 2017, www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/06/22/key-takeaways-on-americans-views-of-guns-and-gun-ownership/.   “A Brief Introduction to Guns in American Culture.” History Cooperative, 23 Oct. 2017, historycooperative.org/brief-introduction-guns-american-culture/.   Squires, Peter. Gun Culture or Gun Control?: Firearms, Violence and Society. Routledge, 2000.     Kocsis, Michael (2015) “Gun Ownership and Gun Culture in the United States of America,” Essays in Philosophy: Vol. 16: Iss. 2, Article 2. h p://dx.doi.org/10.7710/1526-0569.1530      

My Mission

Invisible Presence A transition phase, inevitably unescapable, invisibly marks a change in status. At the time, I did not know what I was looking to change and even with a great deal of reflection I still cannot confidently say that I’ve crossed the threshold. However, I have managed to better define my journey, separating it into three parts. This is the story of my mission’s trip to NorthBay, camp grounds in the midst of Maryland, where I helped middle schoolers from all over the US grow closer to God. The month-long adventure that will stick with me forever. Rite of Separation I had just finished packing my ‘situationally prepared suitcase’ so that I’d be ready for anything. I made sure to remember my not so sweet PB+J: pen, bible, and journal. My mom was slowly packing my car up, I knew she didn’t want me to leave. I kept giving her hugs and reassuring her that I’d write her every week. Twenty minutes later I had hit the road. Liminal Phase My four-hour drive consisted of a mixture of negative thoughts, worries, and anxiety. I questioned my ability to teach kids something that I myself wasn’t fully confident in. I wouldn’t have my phone or laptop- the essentials that keep me connected to society on a regular basis. My signed commitment was the only thing keeping me from turning around. I arrived on the NorthBay Adventure Camp grounds and hesitantly parked my car. I didn’t know what I was doing here, I definitely did not fit in. People swarm me from all angles welcoming me and unloading my car. They handed me a bucket for my phone and another bucket for my car keys- no turning back now. To my surprise I lasted the first couple days and wasn’t eaten alive by the scripture, I found it to be weirdly comforting. After my first week, it felt like I was living in a world full of pureness, something foreign to me. I found fulfillment in serving kids their meals before they ran out to the club room to hear more about God, even though I was in the background I was still taking part in changing their lives. This I will never forget. Forgetting my past of parties and meaningless relations, I opened up to my leaders and what are now my life-long friends about my insecurities and doubts. The entire month they taught to love myself and begin my college life the way God intended it to be. On the last night, I walked deep into the woods to process my time there. I talked to the man upstairs about my fear of going back home and starting a new life at VCU. Although I didn’t receive any definite answers, I was comforted by his invisible presence. I fell into a deep reflection with the soft wind blowing through my hair and the water from the creek trickling between the rocks. Crossing the Threshold Coming back into a society full of pressure, societal norms, and anxiety was the most challenging part for me. Not having contact with any of my friends or family, they didn’t see the transformation I went through. I chose to go on my mission’s trip because I especially wanted to figure out my purpose in life and find God through it all right before my college years. Although I still don’t know where I stand with my faith, with two feet or one, I came to know much more about myself and choose the life I want to live now- full of genuine conversations, long-lasting relationships, and comfortably pursuing faith. If it weren’t for this period of betweeness I would not be in the small group I’m in at VCU or have the community that I longed for.  

Week 10 Post

I have no personal experience or real knowledge of neuropsychology of substance use disorders.  From class I was partially aware that there are biological reasons that can make someone more predisposed for substance use which are discussed on page 372. Something new that this article discussed was that “…studies have not yet identified the genetic factors meditating these individual differences.” (376). Do you believe that addiction is a disease or a choice?

Goodbye, summer…Hello, COBE!

I’m excited and honored to have been able to help develop and launch COBE (the College Behavioral and Emotional Health Initiative) this past week. It has been a busy, crazy, intense, fun whirlwind of activity. This past June my marvelous mentor, Danielle Dick, had the “crazy” idea to try and launch COBE, a concept that […]