Guns Are Part of American Culture

From the March 31, 1995, statement of Tulane University criminologist James Wright before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Crime of the Committee on the Judiciary:

And then, finally, my tenth observation is that guns are important elements of our history and our culture. Attempts to control crime by regulating the ownership or use of firearms are attempts to regulate the artifacts and activities of a culture that in its own way is as unique as any of the other myriad cultures that comprise the American ethnic mosaic. This is what is referred to as the American gun culture, about which many have written, and, I believe it remains among the least understood of any of the various subcultural strands that make up modern society.

The existence and characteristics of the American gun culture also have implications that are rarely appreciated. For one, gun control deals with matters that people feel strongly about, that are part of their background, and their heritage, and their upbringing ... and their worldview. Advocates for gun control are frequently taken aback by the stridency with which their seemingly modest and sensible proposals are attacked. But from the gun culture's point of view, restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms amount to the systematic destruction of a valued way of life, and are, in that sense, a form of cultural genocide. Scholars, and criminologists, and legislators, who speculate on the problem of guns and crime and violence would, I think, profit to look at things, at least occasionally, from the gun culture's point of view.

There are about 50,000,000 U.S. families who own firearms, and hardly any of these families have ever harmed anyone with their guns, and virtually none ever intend to. Nearly everything these families will ever do with their guns is both legal, and largely innocuous. So when we advocate restrictions on their rights to own guns, as a means to fighting crime, we are casting aspersions on their decency, as though we somehow hold them responsible for the crime and violence that plague the nation. Is it any wonder they object often loudly and vociferously to such slander?