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Monday, 30 November 2015 16:47

Freitag: Why Men Love Guns

Written by  Carl Freitag


Posted November 30, 2015
Guns, People, Mental Health… cont'd.

Why Men Love Guns
by Carl Freitag

After President Obama was elected, gun sales skyrocketed. Sales of guns and large capacity clips increased due to fear that they will soon be outlawed.

Since 1968, more than a million people have been killed by guns in the U.S. -- 150,000 in just the last ten years. We have nearly nine guns for every ten people. We must be an insanely violent society.

Crime and gunplay are our most beloved forms of entertainment. Stories and movies about police, crime, wars and violence are our first choice on how to spend our leisure hours. Most movies and TV dramas include someone getting shot or brutally killed and we love it.
During President Obama’s first year as president the number of right wing extremist groups exploded. Anti-government conspiracy theories exploited populist anger so much that they infiltrated the mainstream and went almost entirely uncriticized by Republican leaders.
The gun culture is firmly entrenched in our society. I am in awe of the National Rifle Association. Their tremendous power is apparent in the behavior of all politicians at all levels. When the Center for Disease Control dared to study gun-related injuries and deaths as a public health phenomenon, it was found that having a gun in the house significantly increased the risk of homicide. Outraged, the NRA ordered the Congress to include in each appropriations bill, “None of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the CDC may be used to advocate or promote gun control.” WOW! What power!
In spite of talk of using guns for protection, hunting and recreation, it is no longer a secret that paranoid gun nuts merely want to arm themselves against the government they hate -- as they polish, caress and fondle their weapons.

Starting to see the picture?

So, the question is, “Why do men love guns?” If I had to answer in one word that word would be “testosterone,” or the lack of it, the source of masculinity. Of course, it is only part of the story.

In all cultures boys are soon taught to play the masculine role. Machismo can be considered a sickness of young males expressed by violent entertainment, loud engines and competition. Male children love toy guns, toy trucks and things that go boom. Any young man joining a group of young males immediately notices that strength and physical endurance is admired and wimpish behavior is deplored. Hence, we all try to display hyper-masculinity.

Young men are the target audience for violent films and video games and soon learn that manhood is associated with guns and violence. In fact, gun possession is an accepted sign of maturity and status as a “man.”

Notice how many politicians often say “I LOVE to hunt.” They then bond with the majority of American men. Perhaps hunting provides a way to redirect our erotic aggression away from humans and toward acceptable targets like animals. One theorist says, “finding sexual pleasure in dominating and destroying living organisms is a normal part of men’s fulfillment.”
Now maybe we can add women’s fulfillment. Some female politicians like to exhibit their proficiency and marksmanship as they pretend to be Annie Oakley. I remember several women politicians firing away in their political TV advertisements.  

When men feel a sense of disempowerment they may experience what is called “thwarted masculinity.” Their self-esteem suffers as they feel they are forced into a feminized position. They notice that “soldierly” qualities are the norm for all males and they become obsessed with proving themselves to be a “real man.” They also notice that another real man quality is the ability to instill fear in others. They quickly realize that if they are only five foot tall and weigh 110 pounds they cannot intimidate others without an “equalizer.” Some will try loud cars or an aggressive loud voice. These have their limits, but nothing succeeds like a gun. A gun immediately makes you a dangerous and vital person, which, incidentally, some women see as attractive.

Any discussion of why men love guns must include Freudian theory. Nothing seems to communicate as well as the concept of the gun as a phallic symbol. It’s not even Freudian to say that a gun can greatly improve the image of a man with a diminutive male member. A recent study shows that just holding a gun makes a man’s testosterone level rise and makes him more aggressive. One nickname for a gun is a “rod.” That’s pretty Freudian.

There has been another recent attempt by the Florida legislature to legalize the open carrying of guns in public. If it happens, watch the first gun carrier you see. He will be ramrod straight and will walk with a swagger, because his big weapon will be exposed for all the world to see. It has been reported that when Oklahoma passed an open carry law it motivated gun owners to trade in their old stubby guns and replace them with oversize ones. Yes, a gun is definitely a phallic symbol.  
A gun enthusiast would sooner be castrated than have his guns taken away. The gun culture in the U.S. worships guns like a religion. They are holy relics and the owners are obsessive and paranoid about them.

Now you know why men love guns.

Carl Freitag is a retired psychology professor and a member of the Space Coast Progressive Alliance.


Last modified on Saturday, 16 January 2016 08:23
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