I didn’t recognize it as gun-culture changed. We are immersed in our culture and I was too close to see what happened. A recent news story brought the change into sharp focus. Gun culture is wrapped in myth and fantasy. It always has been. Gun-culture changed from being a fantasy gunfighter to a realistic defender. We see that reality today.
When I grew up, gun culture was a rancher carrying a gun on his hip when he was at work. It was the cop on the street. I saw both. The myth of the gun culture was something else entirely. The myth was the wild west gunfighter. The myth was also the image of Chicago gangland criminals at war with the cops. That is what we saw in the movies. As a child, I saw many more gunshots on TV than were ever fired by gangsters on the street. Those myths weren’t real, but they left a real impression.
The myths changed over the years. With the women’s movement, it was acceptable to show strong women. As expected from the media, the myths went overboard. We had the fantasy images of Lara Croft and bikini-models holding big black guns. We also had gangster rap where violent men had guns. Those images were as fake as the earlier stories from Hollywood.
Gun culture changed. Today we have tens of millions of ordinary people who carry every day.
These legally armed individuals carry a firearm in public. There is no need to imagine what happens. We already know. If you look at the data, we have over 50 million man-years of experience with concealed carry. That is only counting our experience in the last decade. That unremarkable reality overwrote a lot of the fantasy about gun owners. Unfortunately, the media never got the memo. They are stuck back with the fantasy of the wild west and cop dramas.
The reality of gun ownership isn’t about being a gunfighter, but about being a defender. This came into focus when I reported on a recent self-defense story. A family was eating in a restaurant when the place was held up by an armed robber. Everyone wanted to escape, and they got out of there when they could. The restaurant employees ran. The customers ran. One customer had to stay because two of his children were in the bathroom. He waited. When the robber threatened the man’s children, the man killed the robber.
This wasn’t two men in a test of wills having a gunfight. This wasn’t even a man fighting to hold on to his wallet. This was a man who shot and killed someone because the attacker threatened the lives of his children. I know a lot of people exactly like that. They are all over my Facebook wall and on my phone. I’m sharing a few of them with you here.
They are defenders. This was always part of our culture, but today it is easier to see. Even though it is concealed. Each of them is a wonderful person. They have gone out of their way to help me many times in many ways. They would also defend their family with lethal force if that were necessary. They can, and they would. It isn’t so much that gun culture changed, as that we now see it without the gauzy special-effects from Hollywood.
Now you know. Listen for the fake gunshots in the background as you hear journalists talk about honest gun owners in the US. Reality is very different.