UF academics: Gun rights proponents have 'hierarchical worldview'

Science fiction author and polymath, Isaac Asimov, once said that “those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do,” and he was someone who could speak from personal knowledge in that regard.  In the debate over gun laws, it’s a common thing to find both sides assuming that they are uniquely in possession of the facts.  A careful assessment of such data as are available shows that the argument is not a simple one, though I’ve reached the conclusion that the preponderance of the evidence favors gun rights.  And in argument after argument with those who disagree, I’ve found that the claims of fact made by supporters of more restrictions so often fall apart upon analysis.

One example of the insufferable and unjustified smugness to be found in advocates of gun control is an article published by the Associated Press for their The Big Story series, written by Ann Christiano and Annie Neimand, both of the University of Florida.  The title, “Most Americans believe we should have gun regulation. Here is why those who don’t are winning the debate,” let’s us know before we start reading where this is heading, and nothing in what they write is a surprise.

The authors cite a study done by Donald Braman and Dan Kahan on cultural worldviews of people who want more regulation of firearms and of people who support gun rights.  The specific study cited is conveniently behind a pay wall, but Braman and Kahan have done similar work in the years since 2003, once again putting research subjects on a two-dimensional graph of egalitarian vs. hierarchist and individualist vs. solidarist/communitarian.  Their conclusion is that people who support gun control tend to be more egalitarian and more concerned about the needs of the community.

Note the claim being made here.  If you support gun control, you’ll be more in favor of equal rights among all members of society, according to both sets of authors.  Now it’s probably true that gun control advocates are more likely to support various causes associated with the left wing of American politics, but it’s an odd assertion to make that those of us who believe in gun rights would gravitate toward authoritarian positions.  Yes, the popular image of the gun owner among advocates of control is someone who doesn’t like minority groups and wants to return to some mythological Golden Age, but the saying that floats around social media these days—that I support a gay couple’s right to defend their marijuana plants with an AK-47—is representative of many in the gun community.  This latter view is more in keeping with a general defense of rights, one that I’m glad to see spreading.

Christiano and Neimand use the example of Ireland’s vote in favor of marriage equality as what they call a “positive example.”  It is a definite or certain example—what positive means in this regard—but it’s also one that negates the goal they wish to achieve.  Consider:

Imagine what the world could be like if we approached change by understanding the mindset of those who we hope to affect and engage them by talking about what matters to them. Could such an approach allow us to move forward as a society on the issues that will define us—even one as controversial and emotional as gun control?

Speaking as a member of the gun community and as a human being, I can assure these authors that when I’m approached by sneering people who want oh so politely to discuss curtailing my rights, I am disinclined to entertain their demands.  I’m even willing to remind them that no means no if they require clarification on my refusal.

Despite the blatant stereotyping that Christiano and Neimand have bought into, the facts are not all lined up on their side, and support for gun rights isn’t fundamentally out of a desire to control others.  I’d gladly explain these things to them if they want to engage in conversation, but what I and millions of my fellow gun owners won’t do is talk about how we’re going to surrender basic rights, no matter how that aggravates those who wish for more control.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.

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