Interesting stuff at the Monkey Cage on the cultural relevance of guns to America’s white conservatives:
Studies find that gun rights supporters are highly politically organized and unwavering on their views, while gun regulation supporters are not.
Our research found a reason for this difference: racial differences in rates of gun ownership and beliefs about guns. White Americans are far more likely than any other group to own firearms and oppose gun regulations. To them, guns are potent political symbols. For many people, especially White Americans, guns are integral to who they are as citizens and what it means to be a good citizen.
This link between good citizenship and bearing arms is not new: Historians find that this conceptual coupling developed during the American Revolution, if not earlier. During this time, Americans came to think of good citizenship as involving both political participation and military readiness to protect against domestic tyrants and external enemies.
I do have some problems with this, as it asserts more continuity in American’s beliefs about guns than is really sustainable. There are some pretty important changes not just since the Revolution, but also in the past couple of decades on gun attitudes among Americans; NRA lobbying on these questions has had a real impact on changing the environment for gun ownership. That said, I LOLed at this: