This piece by Alan Jacobs in The American Conservative of all places captures quite a bit of my feelings about American gun culture, especially this part:
“But what troubles me most about this suggestion — and the general More Guns approach to social ills — is the absolute abandonment of civil society it represents. It gives up on the rule of law in favor of a Hobbesian “war of every man against every man” in which we no longer have genuine neighbors, only potential enemies. You may trust your neighbor for now — but you have high-powered recourse if he ever acts wrongly.
Whatever lack of open violence may be procured by this method is not peace or civil order, but rather a standoff, a Cold War maintained by the threat of mutually assured destruction. Moreover, the person who wishes to live this way, to maintain order at universal gunpoint, has an absolute trust in his own ability to use weapons wisely and well: he never for a moment asks whether he can be trusted with a gun. Of course he can! (But in literature we call this hubris.)”
This column from the Portland Press Herald happens to have a case study of such paranoia in action:
“Welcome to Justin’s world – and that of all those other gun owners whose love for their weaponry is rooted not in Maine’s time-honored tradition of hunting, not in the camaraderie of the shooting range or the thrill of owning a rare collectible.
No, this is a world of pure paranoia. A world where the bad guys, however invisible, might be anywhere. A world where your personal safety is directly proportional to how much firepower you’re packing – and if that scares the hell out of everyone around you, well, that’s just not your problem.”