Why so many guns in America? One answer, while not answering how we got here, at least explains how we’re staying here, is the fact that guns are so commonplace, and when we’re surrounded by guns, guns become the easiest answer to solving problems, settling arguments, and putting the other guy in his place.
But another one is fear. Among the gun nuts I’ve encountered the common elements are fear and paranoia. Gun nuts are very quick to spout “statistics” about crime (most of which are bullshit), specifically, crime allegedly committed against white people by black people, even though this is largely a figment of their imaginations since crime is not so much a matter of race, it is much more a matter of proximity and convenience.
But this article in The Guardian really does a great job of boiling down insecurity as the primary reason gun nuts have gotta have their guns:
Many gun owners confess to feeling vulnerable or “naked” without their guns. Perhaps this isn’t surprising; having a gun gives you considerable power over people.
If you feel small, or weak, or underachieving, or anything like this, dealing with others can induce a great deal of social anxiety. A gun would provide at least one easy way where you can have the advantage over them for once, even if this reasoning only occurs at a subconscious level.
Achieving high social status is important to your typical human, and guns can play a big role in this in cultures where they’re common. Trouble is, of course, if everyone else has a gun too, then it’s not so useful. So you need more guns, or bigger guns, and on it goes. The fact that it’s more often men who own guns suggests masculinity (toxic or otherwise) plays a part too. And while associating gun ownership with mental health issues is (rightly) considered shameless scapegoating, there is some evidence suggesting gun ownership correlates with tendencies towards anger and impulsivity. It’s reminiscent of how Douglas Adams described people who seek power, in that that those who want it the most are least suitable to have it.
Of course, the gun industry knows this all too well. That’s why they spend massive amounts of cash to stoke the fear, insecurity and paranoia of gun nuts, because gun nuts, like alcoholics, can never have enough. And whenever a mass shooting happens, gun makers and sellers see dollar signs in their eyes because they know they can ratchet up fear that the scary black man in the White House is “coming for their guns,” so they better stock up on guns and ammo while they can.
The gun industry is built on the piles of bodies from mass shootings, and the money it makes is stained with the blood of men, women and children.