A great many gun owners express their ownership through the grid of resistance to tyranny. Apart, from the fact that little in the way to suggest incipient tyranny, the vocalized meme is too strong to ignore. This suggests that its holders do so, not for policy or political reasons, but for those resting in a more private drama. Much of that inner life if in a somewhat more extreme form is captured in Arthur Farnsley’s “Flea Market Capitalism” in the current issue of The Christian Century. Private ownership borrows the language of armed resistance, but it is of a more emotional sort, turning on the question of autonomy.
A gun represents the ultimate ability to say no to coercion. Guns are about freedom—again, not the freedom to do whatever you want, but the freedom from being forced to do what you do not want.
Here, the gun ends up as the symbol of freedom while also being the sign of a lack of freedom, that one’s freedom to act, one’s freedom from authority is itself limited. Closely tied to the self is that of the implicit community, and why narratives of oppression by elites reinforces the desire to resist, all symbolized in the gun. Any discussion of Second Amendment and especially of the restriction on guns can sound like an attempt to further erode this psychic resistance. And so a political non-starter.