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Propaganda Alert: For Some Americans, The Gun Is A Sacred Object

Pacific Standard – by Tom Jacobs

The gun-control debate in America bypassed rationality long ago. A committed core group of gun owners takes even modest attempts to limit the availability of firearms as a personal affront, and responds with the outrage of devout believers driven to defend their faith.

These gun-rights absolutists—a subset of the firearm-owning population—are overwhelmingly white, male, not very religious, and fearful about their financial future. Owning firearms gives them a sense of masculine strength and authority they otherwise fear is slipping away.  

“The gun becomes their sacred object,” said Baylor University sociologist Paul Froese. “Gun control for these owners has come to represent an attack of their masculinity, independence, and moral identity.”

He and his colleague F. Carson Mencken are the authors of a new study that delves into the emotional roots of anti-gun-regulation sentiment. They find gun owners hold a range of opinions on this topic, but the most hard-line are driven by intense internal needs.

“Less-religious white men in economic distress find comfort in guns as a means to reestablish a sense of individual power and moral certitude in the face of changing times,” they write in the journal Social Problems. “The symbol of the gun as morally and existentially empowering is what activates pro-gun policy and anti-government sentiment.”

The researchers analyzed data on 1,527 Americans from the Baylor Religion Survey, which Gallup conducted in 2014. Of that group, 577 reported they owned firearms. They were asked a series of questions to ascertain their reasons for doing so, and their views about  issues such as proposed bans on semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips.

They also answered a series of questions about their views of the economy, including whether anyone from their household lost a job in the past five years, and whether they “feel at risk of falling to a lower social class.”

Most importantly, they reported their level of agreement with eight statements: “Owning a gun makes me feel (a) safe, (b) responsible, (c) confident, (d) patriotic, (e) in control of my fate, (f) more valuable to my family, (g) more valuable to my community, and (h) respected.”

Using those responses, the researchers divided the gun owners into four categories of “gun empowerment,” and found each has its own demographic profile and set of policy preferences. Female and ethnic-minority gun owners were most likely to report guns do not have significant symbolic power; they were also the most likely to support proposals such as a ban on semi-automatic weapons.

On the other hand, those who felt most strongly that their gun empowers them—a group that is overwhelmingly white, male, and in some degree of economic distress—tended to express strong opposition to such measures. “The greater the degree of gun empowerment,” the researchers write, “the lower the probability that gun owners support more mental-health screening for gun purchasers.”

While many members of this group find meaning in the American frontier myth, as personified by the manly image of John Wayne, they tend to not have a strong connection to a religious community. This finding, the researchers argue, suggests then-candidate Barack Obama was spot on when he said rural whites “cling to their guns or religion.”

“Obama’s use of the conjunction ‘or’ was prescient,” they write. “Religious communities offer alternative symbols and identities that (appear to) offset the need for guns as a source of self-esteem and moral standing.”

So the decline of religion in American life and ever-stronger opposition to gun control appear to be linked.

Possessing firearms provides many spiritually rootless, economically imperiled white males with an otherwise missing sense of purpose and power. For them, any hint that gun rights are imperiled is an unacceptable threat to their personal identity.

Don’t bother praising the Lord. Just pass the ammunition.


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20 Responses to Propaganda Alert: For Some Americans, The Gun Is A Sacred Object


    The gun-control debate in America bypassed rationality long ago. A committed core group of gun owners takes even modest attempts to limit the availability of firearms as a personal affront, and responds with the outrage of devout believers driven to defend their faith.


  2. Katie says:

    These idiots that would even take time to do this survey conducted by a bunch of communists , I imagine, are still showing up at the voting booth.

    Attempting to tie Christian faith to owning guns is real sneaky. More faith equals no need for guns to make one secure. Just have faith brother then you won’t need guns.

  3. Samuel says:

    Actually, we are to posses an armament equal to the military’s. Does that mean we should get to have nuclear silos in our yards? Probably not. But as a militia, we, the people, should be in possession of and in control of an equal force to that of the government. The second does not expressly forbid any firearm or weapon.

    • Cynicles says:

      Having recently declared independence from a
      tyrannical theocratic monarchy, some thought
      the rights of the people are paramount to a free and civil society.
      The Bill of Rights is about the rights of the people,
      something far more important than any government.
      The First Amendment allows for a civil approach, whereas
      the Second Amendment provides the last resort alternative.

      The fundamental consensus, when the Second Amendment
      was created, spoke to the mandate “the people” must have
      every means available to control the government,
      especially when all other means of excising tyranny have failed.

      The writings of the creators of the Bill of Rights are
      not hard to find. They remain the truest way to understand
      the real intent of the Bill of Rights.

      • Cynicles says:

        The Bill of Rights was not originally part of the
        US Constitution.

        If not for wise and foresightful men like George Mason
        There likely would be no Bill of Rights to clearly state the self evident rights of the people.

        Here is a quick link with some details.

        “George Mason was one of three delegates who refused to sign the United States Constitution. While still at the Convention, he took his draft of the Constitution and wrote down his objections on the back of it.”


      • galen says:

        Yeah, it was amazing to me that in the whole article he made no mention of the primary purpose of 2A, to stand against out-of-control government. He conveniently tip-toed around that. And so many in Camp Liberal do the same. There’s a total disconnect there.


        • Katie says:

          Galen, I was schooled the other day by Ed Teach in the comment section.

          He made it very clear those guns were to be used prior to this ‘govt” ever getting out of control.

          We are at the out of control point. Should have used them way long ago.

          • galen says:

            Katie, I never know what to do with this. Life is just moment-by-moment. May I have the wherewithal to do what’s necessary. It may not be the same for everyone here, but for me, “locked and loaded” is a quantum leap. Bear with me as I I limp along. Each day I gain more grit.


  4. Katie says:

    I’ll also add that our 2nd Article, “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” is THE law and has nothing to do with religion or the lack thereof.

    Stuff your survey down the barrel of this rifle.

  5. Jolly Roger says:

    The “study” is probably a work of fiction, because what this article is trying to do is lay the groundwork for diagnosing gun rights advocates with some soon-to-be-invented mental disorder.



      COME GET ‘EM PANSY ASSES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Martist says:

      Stuffing your inanimate sex doll, having sex with children and inverting and mutilating your genitalia is normal. Just don’t have any appreciation for a weapon that can actually make your voice heard, protect yourself and your family and help throw off the chains of slavery, because you’re nuts if you do. Got it!

  6. toddb says:

    The author has most likely been at the business end of a firearm and had subsequent “religious experience” to explain why they’ve shat themselves!! Hence the No Brown Pants bill to be added as a rider to some BS military budget appropriations bill.

  7. Deon says:

    Well I am black and i have many guns and understand the 2nd article and who it is for and who my guns are meant to be use against and its name begin with a G and this rest of the rest of the name overnment so you figure it out

    • Samuel says:

      Yeah, liberal/communist is not a race. I am Cherokee (ani-yun-wiya). It is simply the same people pushing the same slavery scheme. And they aren’t a race either, nor a religion. But, they will try to tell you otherwise so they can drum up sympathy for a false plight.

  8. # 1 NWO Hatr says:

    “Less-religious white men in economic distress find comfort in guns as a means to reestablish a sense of individual power…”



    But we WILL ‘reestablish’ your neck for you.

    WITH A ROPE!!!

  9. galen says:

    And there are so many reasons to believe the gun actually IS sacred:

    The defender of freedom, capable of abating tyranny. The protector of innocence. The symbol of an inalienable right. The companion instrument equipped to avert deadly conflict and when necessary take down a dangerous assailant. The provider of peace of mind.

    And he or she who properly wields a gun is also sacred, of the ilk born of strength and self-determinism, succumbing to no boot. Besides being sacred, the gun is also dignified and decent. I keep thinkin’ of The Lone Ranger. Google states:

    “Silver bullets also act as a calling card for The Lone Ranger in his adventures. The masked man decided to use bullets forged from the precious metal as a symbol of justice, law and order, and to remind himself and others that life, like silver, has value and is not to be wasted or thrown away.”

    And The Lone Ranger said:

    “I believe in being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for what is right.”

    One of the definitions of “sacred” is: that which is regarded with great respect. There is no one anywhere that can tell me a gun is not sacred.


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