I really enjoy reading the Gun Culture 2.0 blog because it presents a reality check on the new realities of owning guns. There’s a post on the site about Jennifer Dawn Carlson’s analysis of CCW in Detroit that has me wondering, though.
In Carlson’s analysis, the social identity of the citizen-protector: (1) “Redefines lethal shooting, under certain circumstances, as a morally upstanding response to violent threat and an affirmation of one’s love for life,” (2) “Draws on the duty to protect as a historically male-dominated social function,” and (3) “Emphasizes protection as an esteemed form of masculinity.”
Thus, to understand why a growing number of Americans are getting licensed to carry handguns in public (or are exercising their right to open carry without a license where that is allowed) requires getting beyond the gun itself. Carrying a gun is about more than personal self-defense; it is an assertion of “relevance, dominance, and dignity.”
The thing is, she’s not wrong, but she’s not exactly right either. Where I think Ms. Carlson misses out on things is where she chose to do her research: If I lived in Detroit, you are DARN RIGHT I’d have a CCW. Heck, I wouldn’t feel safe there with anything less than a company of Marines.
As I said in a comment on that post…
Interesting idea, and as a Canadian living in the United States who carries both openly and concealed wherever I can, there is a large grain of truth to what Carlson is saying.
However, there is an element of personal empowerment in the new realities of Gun Culture 2.0, and I am not sure that she is giving too much weight to “the decline of society” based on her conducting her research in Detroit. Gun permits are booming *everywhere* they can, and one would hardly say that the economy of Texas or Florida is in decline.
There is a unique boom in personal empowerment going on at a level not seen since the early days of the printing press. We don’t need Walter Cronkite or the NY Times to tell us what the news is, we can chose from hundreds of cable channels or millions of online resources. If I want to read the news in my hometown of Calgary, I can read it on the Herald’s website myself, not hope to see glimpses of it on the news or pay outrageous amounts of money to have the paper shipped to me in the U.S.
With the legalization of marijuana and gay marriage and other trends, people are realizing they need a large state less and less to guide their lives.
So why then, do they think they need to hope there will be an armed representative of the state around when they really, really need one?
So is the decline of society your reason for carrying, or is it the acknowledgement of personal empowerment, or is it something as simple as “Because I can!”?