This response to Arkansas State Representative Bell yammering about Bostonians ‘cowering’ in our homes because we couldn’t defend ourselves from terrorists is a couple of weeks old, but it’s dead on target (boldface mine):
I don’t know what citizens of Mr. Bell’s district would have done in such a situation. But if a sense of community was weaker, or if residents lacked confidence in their leaders, they might not have agreed to stay inside and out of the way.
Fear of others plays a big role in the reasoning of gun enthusiasts like Mr. Bell. They say they carry concealed weapons and high capacity magazines because there are lots of bad people with guns.
In contrast, Bostonians know bad people exist—we’ve just had an indelible example of this—but that good people far outnumber them, as we saw amply demonstrated by the helpers who ran toward the injured. Despite the bombing, most Bostonians walk around this city without fear, and aren’t afraid of other people, including people who are unlike them.
It seems preposterous—and terribly sad—to live in a place in which you believe you are in such constant danger that you must carry a weapon. That kind of society seems more like 10th-century Europe than 21st-century America. Or war.
Perhaps Bostonians possess greater optimism than do gun advocates like Mr. Bell. Paranoia, fear and pessimism ring loudly in the other worldview. For example, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said as budget cuts force municipalities to downsize their police departments, citizens can take up the slack by arming themselves with AR-15s. He warned of “marauding gangs.” Maybe Senator Graham has been reading “The Road” too much.
…We do know about marauding gangs. A few Boston neighborhoods suffer from wild young men wreaking havoc. Our solution is to tell the police to do a better job, realizing that even more havoc would ensue if neighbors took matters into their own hands with firearms.
Some of the gun fetishism is totemic, both in terms of feeling powerful and in terms of pissing off ‘liberals’. But the other part is about fear. It must be a miserable existence being so hypervigilant. And misery loves company:
But gun advocates want to create a society governed by fear, or at the very least, make sure that everyone feels the same fear they feel. “An armed society is a polite society,” they like to say, and it’s polite because we’re all terrified of each other. They genuinely believe that that the price of safety is that there should be no place where guns, and the fear and violence they embody, are not present. Not your home, not your kids’ school, not your supermarket, not your church, no place. But for many of us—probably for most of us—that vision of society is nothing short of horrifying.
Unfortunately, some people like fear. The irony is that they think we’re the ones who are constantly afraid. This type of misunderstanding typically doesn’t end well.