For some reason, the media often highlights the fact that people who oppose gay marriage or abortion own guns. OK, we know the reason: if you want to marginalize mainstream opposition to social “progress,” demonization is the way to go. People with guns are scarier than people without guns—at least to the people without guns. An unarmed “extremist” just doesn’t have the same oomph as some Bible-bashing bumpkin with an AR. Remember Barak Obama’s famous campaign remark about unemployed people “clinging to their guns and their religion”? If he’d said “clinging to their internet forums and religion” the crack would’ve lacked a suitable BMF (Base Motivation Factor). Even if it’s true—social conservatives are gun clingers—does it matter? Are gun rights and social conservatism joined at the hip?

73 Responses to Question of the Day: Are Gun Owners Social Conservatives or Are Social Conservatives Gun Owners?

  1. I’m not sure, but here’s my quandary. I’m a gun owning social libertarian and it mystifies me how anyone who calls themselves a Libertarian can be against gay marriage, legalization of pot or abortion. You can’t be a Libertarian and pro-life. A true social conservative would not pick and choose among the rights of man.

    • I would call your position and others expressing similar views to be Randian and not classical Libertarianism like Hayek or von Mises. Classical Libertarian scould easily be anti-abortion or against the current redefinition of marriage. Randians aren’t so much in favor of gay marriage as are interested its defacto abolition. Randians claim to want to get the state out of the marriage business and let it be done by private contract except his would give the state an increased role since only State can enforce a contract. Ann Coulter demolished the Randian position in column a couple of weeks ago.

      I would describe myself as a Madisonian eepublican. I believe in a strong central government operating in a defined space. The US Constitution is not a Libertarian document at least in a modern sense of the word. Modern libertarianism is an outgrowth of the 60s counterculture. Some folks read Ayn Rand and decided that the free market delivers better sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll.

      So I am a social eclectic. I am pro-life, opposed to gay marriage, think a limited legalizations of drugs is ok. I would favor the legalization of prostitution for independent providers and gambling establishments are ok by me.

      • Can you link to Coulter’s article? I don’t see how having marriage be a private contract enforced by the state gives the state more power over it than now.

        I’m pro gay-marriage, obviously its not the same in the sense of religion(depending on your religion, obviously), but if two men or two women love each other and want to commit they should be able to visit each other in hospitals, etc.

        • Couldn’t a judge today arbitrarily enforce marriage? Obviously it could be overturned, but the same could happen if marriage were private.

        • A marraige contract looks like any other contract between two parties. Her argument is a straw man favoring the views of her fans.

        • If you want the government out of marriage then keep out. No marriage contracts in the public domain. In other words abolish marriage all together. The current system is the minimally intrusive system because state sanctioned marriage is the simplest contract possible. Everybody knows what it is going in or getting out. I am constantly surprised by advocates of limited government who only want government limited when it gets in their way. This is exactly Ms. Coulter’s point in the column.

          By the way Ms. Coulter was editor of the Michigan Law review, clerked for federal judge and was successful attorney before she became a pundit. It would amusing to watch her have you for lunch over this strawman argument.

        • Nick:

          No he can’t. The stae sanction marriage contract is too well defined for arbitrary interpretation. Tha’s the issue with gay marriage. It falls outside of the law. When courts have found in favor of gay marriage it is on equal protection grounds and not on the nature of the contract itself.

          The one group that is salivating over gay marriage are divorce lawyers. Some 90% of gay marriages end in divorce. lots of money to be made.

          Gay proponents of allowing same sex mariage are pretty upfront about their objectives. They want to deligtimize marriage itself..

      • Actually, I’m more in line with Bakhunin than Rand. While I may agree that the state has no interest in marriage other than a contractual agreement bewteen individuals, I believe the means of production should be owned by the workers.

        • Why don’t you emigrate to Venezuela? You could join the secret police and keep your guns 🙂

        • I’m not a real fan of Chavez, although a job with the secret police might be enjoyable. As for Ms. Coulter I would love to have her attempt to eat me for lunch. Being a lawyer doesn’t necessarily mean she is that bright. She’s a pander bear.
          I’d like to see your statistics on gay marriage, and who is your source about delegitimizing marriage since my gay friends don’t tell me that. Maybe it’ ssome insidious plot from the Homersexuals and commnists out to destroy our “Christian” country.

  2. The gun owners on this forum tend toward libertarianism. I’m pro-abortion (especially when it comes to ugly or stupid people for whom it should be required). In favor of gay marriage (no, not as a punishment, smartass). In favor of legalizing illicit drugs just to get even with Mexico, Afghanistan and COPEC (the group of COcaine Producing and Exporting Countries). Socially liberal enough for ya? But I’m conservative on financial issues and when it comes to war I’m a full-blown thermonuclear hawk. Gun owners and antigun freedom-haters are divided, but not according to whether or not they are “social” liberals or conservatives.

  3. What exactly does the term “social conservative” mean anyway? As far as I can tell, “religious authoritarian” seems a better description since erasing distinctions between “what my religion says is sinful and virtuous” and “what government should prohibit or promote” seems to be the entire basis of their political activism. I am mystified by how people who claim to be “pro-liberty” can easily throw their lot in with these folks. Yeah, they are (or their leadership claims to be) pro-2A … for now.

  4. Ten years ago, I would have said that social conservatism = gun ownership, but after eight years of George W. Bush’s “Compassionate” (read: “Big Government”) conservatism, I think the pendulum in the conservative movement is definitely swinging to small government conservatism that leaves individual social choices up to the individual.

    And speaking as a someone from an Ulster Scots background, I’m perfectly ok with that. My ancestors got kicked out of two perfectly good countries because they couldn’t play nice with the state religion, and I’m not in any rush to make it a third.

  5. Where should I start? As I’ve said previously, I am a lesbian. I’m pro-choice, pro-same-sex-marriage, socially liberal. At the same time, Margaret and I own guns. Once we feel a bit more proficient with them, we’re going for our concealed carry permits. I think that rights are rights, and we have to stand up for them no matter what we’re talking about, because if we let the rights get restricted, then we’re heading down a slippery slope towards restrictions of all rights.

        • Cujo said, I’ve often suspected that I am.

          Heh. *points down* You’d have to lose the dangly parts before we’d consider you to be a lesbian. *snicker* =))

        • I left one behind in the military. Does that mean I get a “supports” bumper sticker at least-if I can’t join the club?

        • Cool! I just wanted to fit in their somewhere! Actually my future son in law has a partner. Given my pro military, pro gun rights kind of life style, my angel, Sheri, thought I would have a problem with it. My only problem is getting the two to not have a conflict with their schedules so I can teach them both how to shoot! I do not care what they do as long as they treat Sheri right and each other-it’s not my business. I’m just proud that they do trust me to teach them how to shoot. I love seeing the light go on when a new shooter sees what you mean by sight alignment! That’s why I use a revolver with two colors on the front sight (kind of like a go/no go gauge) and a pre adjusted laser.

        • Helpful hint: For a handgun I set the laser for around 10 yards-to be dead on. For a rifle I go around 25 yards.

  6. probably neither and some of both. gun ownership is probably less in more urban areas as is social conservatism.

  7. I can think of 2 individuals who, because of such similarity, should form their own party. I think I’d call it the Carrying Unbridled Narcissistic Totalitarianism. Captain Magoo and Sir MikeyB could have their own coalition.

  8. Neither. It shouldn’t be an issue at all between liberals and conservatives. But that is life. People should in general be free to make their own choices in life provided that they don’t murder and steal because they feel like it.

  9. Hmm, I’m registered as a Democrat in my home state, tend to vote Republican at the national level and mixed at the state level, and consider myself a Constitutionalist with Libertarian leanings. Personally I think the government should be out of the marriage business. They only got into it for the marriage license fees and then later when trying to regulate benefits. I guess I’d be labeled a social conservative simply because I’m against most things that social liberals are for. Most I think are not within the purview of government, at least at the national level.

    As for firearms, my basic philosophy is that, “I consider it a moral and social imperative that citizens possess and carry arms to resist alike the evils of crime and tyranny”. I know Magoo and MikeB will disagree and consider me a gun loon but I arrived at this through study of both the writings of the Founders and the Bible.

  10. Not having a breakdown of authortarian versus libertarian social conservatives, that additional data descriptor is necessary to determine gun ownership. The primary reason for stating they are labeled as gun owners is to demonize as out of touch with reality. Like Loughner, Ferguson, and similar.

  11. Its funny how all the pro gay marriage people have no mentions of polygamy, even though in terms of connections to gun rights, polygamy has a bigger connection, and that connection is that if someone is charged with polygamy, they can no long own a firearm because polygamy is a felony.

    Polygamists should be a bigger worry for us because after all, some of us just have one spouse to protect with a firearm, but they have multiple spouses to protect!

    Here comes the butt hurt gay marriage supporters to whine I’m associating polygamy with gay marriage, when all I’m doing is pointing out hypocrisy.

    • I have yet to understand why Polygamy is bad. Personally, if you can support multiple wives, don’t beat them, and raise your children not be assholes, I’m all for it. It’s the Social Conservatives who lump Polygamy with gay marraige because a large amount of their “base” don’t believe Mormons to be Christians.

    • The laws against polygamy are as insane as many other laws. Who cares whether a man or a woman has more that one spouse? It’s nobody’s business but theirs. OBTW, adultery is a crime in many states. If that law was ever enforced, there would be no room in prison for the really bad people.

      • You mean I could have married all 3 ex’s at the same time, and saved time with all the divorces? Cool!

      • I don’t care about polygamy so long as it’s not some kind of old-school religious authoritarian or abusive situation. Legalize polygamous marriage! I wouldn’t want to do it, but I couldn’t care less what other people do.

        -D

    • I have no problem with polygamy either. I will say that your analogy is different in that Marriage generally involves two people (hence the descriptors plural marriage).

      The reality is marriage overall is meant to simplify a family’s ability to deal with issues where the state might intervene (taxes, estates, custody, etc) plural marriages will require more state intervention not less (due to the fact that they involve many more decision making contract signing parties) so it really negates the necessity for state sanctioned polygamy (again though I still have no moral/legal issue with it…it just doesn’t seem as beneficial) Arguments could also be made with regards to fairness in providing benefits to multiple spouses rather than one as well.

  12. Wow. Just goes to how that even I have some bias. I thought I was going to be unique here. I apologize for that 🙁

    Marine, pro-choice, pro Gay Rights, Chicago Firearm Permit holder here. I recently moved out of Cook County so I could have ammo delivered via mail. 😀

    Personally, I think everyone should have the right to do whatever they want. As long as it doesn’t prevent anyone else from doing whatever *they* want.

    Keep up the good work.

  13. This Question Of The Day has inspired a lot of well-informed and thoughtful answers, and it’s clear to me that none of them are based on paranoia or prejudice. I’m grateful to stand in the company of such solid and decent individuals.

  14. Just your average Deist libertarian here. I couldn’t care less if you have an abortion while smoking meth and then go home to your lesbian wife and her nude Wiccan rituals.

    jd

  15. Social liberal, fiscal conservative, gun owner. Personally, I dislike how some people assume that because I love shooting skeet, hunting deer and slaying water bottles with very scary black rifles, that I also listen to Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh… I don’t.

    But I do usually offer to teach them how to shoot.

  16. Rabid gun owner – social liberatarian but vote republican. Atheist, hedonist, Burning Man disciple. Don’t believe in gay marriage because I don’t believe in government sponsored marriage at all (but if we are going to have government involved, may as well let gay people be miserable too!), pro-legalization of pot (don’t partake myself, however), pro-abortion (came in handy a couple of times), fiscal conservative, pro-defense hawk (prior service – 6 years active duty).

  17. I own guns, I’m definitely not the definition of ‘social conservative’. I don’t care if gay people get married, I don’t deny a woman’s right to an abortion (Constitutional), I’m not scared of naked people and sex. I think science should be taught in school, ridiculous constructs like ‘Intelligent’ design shouldn’t. I don’t see how any free thinking person could buy into any of that. Ignorance is not a virtue. I find most social conservatives to be bigots at best. Frightened little people that never matured in their thinking and ways much beyond the late teen years.

  18. Interesting thread. But I really don’t know how to respond on it, regarding that little fact that I’m not American. 🙂
    Plus, I cannot understand some terms, regarding “political affiliations”.

    • Political affiliations (Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green, etc.) are often given liberal/conservative labels. They are sometime inaccurate. When you label a whole, you mislabel individuals. Basically, political affiliations aren’t accurate barometers of a person’s true political beliefs. Some people join “liberal” parties (Democrat or Green) because they share a position on a single cause deemed most important by the individual. For example, a person may be very environmentally conscious and joining the Democrat or Green Party, but might be pro-gun, anti-abortion, and take other political positions mainly associated with so-called “conservative” parties (Republican/GOP or Libertarian). Or a person might just have grown up in a house that had a significant influence in a party, and therefor may be a member even though his/her political beliefs are more in-line with another party.

      My father is a good example here. He is undeniably a conservative in the Libertarian-vein, but due to his family influence in the Democratic Party and his anti-war activism during the Vietnam war, he is a Democrat and refused to be anything else no matter what arguments he gets into with other Democrats or members of other parties.

      • Thank you very much, Leo. This is easier, faster and simpler to understand, than all that wikipedia (and alike) bloody haul of letters. 🙂 Well, at least I understand something and don’t feel like dumpster anymore.

    • This is the best explanation I’ve ever run across:
      Political tags—such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, conservative, and so forth—are never basic criteria.
      The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.
      Robert A. Heinlein

  19. I own guns, and I man NOT a “social conservative.” I am a “constitutional conservative.” If it isn’t in the Constitution of the United States, I don’t make it my business to impose it on others within this country. I don’t recall “marriage is a pact between a man and a woman” being in the Constitution; nor do I recall “life starts at conception” or “at N weeks after conception” being in there either

    Gay marriage: Not a constitutional issue.
    Abortion: Not a constitutional issue.
    My stance on Gay marriage and abortion: It is not our place to impose my will on others (in these matters) through the application of law.

    Personally, I’m a fairly conservative Christian and I don’t believe that marriage can technically be applied to same-sex unions, nor do I believe that it is appropriate to terminate a pregnancy. But those are MY religious beliefs, and this country does not (or should not, anyway) permit me to impose my religious beliefs on others.

    I would prefer that the word “marriage” be stripped from all government documents and replaced with “civil union.” Then we wouldn’t have this debate. Marriage is a religious rite, not a government institution. Its use in our nation’s laws is a misuse. The government has no right to marry a couple, nor any right to refuse marriage. What it recognizes is a civil union, mislabeled as “marriage.”

    Most gays only want “marriage” because it is the word the law uses, and “civil union” is most often recognized as having fewer rights/privileges than “marriage.” Most that oppose “gay marriage” do so because “marriage is …” yadda, yadda. That argument is based on religious beliefs; it is not based on Constitutional law. And when you take the word “marriage” of the equation, a lot (but certainly not all) of those opposed to it will quiet down.

    • My thoughts exactly.
      Though I wouldn’t replace “marriage” with “civil union”, I’d prefer to equalize them in terms of “privileges”.

    • I couldn’t agree more. I’m a Green Party vegan who carries one or more firearms on me at all times. I differ in other ways from what one would expect from a GP member but that’s for another day. Cheers.

  20. I believe the views expressed here (a mix and match of moderation with a strong trend of don’t bother me and I won’t bother you) are what the true ‘silent majority’ of Americans are like. Normal people with reasonable philosophies who don’t bother others and generally get along.

    I think the super polarized ‘right/left’ portrayal of America is fake, and put forth by politicians and the media to essentially make people think the country is really divided. This ‘split nation’ narrative makes for solid reality t.v. style cable news entertainment. It easier for political parties to get supporters when they’ve convinced everyone there are two sides and you need to choose one or you’ll suffer.

    -D

  21. I’m with Cujo: Leave me the —- alone. As a libertarian I swear I will leave you alone and not try to impose my views on anyone just as long as you afford me the same consideration. I think the gov’t needs to get the hell out of our lives and I’m disgusted that Republicans and Democrats alike feel so free to spend our money on things they have no business messing with.

    Live and let live is what I’m all about.

  22. Ps: I’ve been carrying for 23 years and the only time my gun has left the holster is at the range and to be cleaned. I aim to keep it that way so long as my luck holds. As such, it is nobody’s business if I carry, nor what my opinion is on social issues. Each to their own. There is room enough in this country for all of us who have no desire to victimize others, regardless of how we otherwise choose to lead our lives.

  23. As a newcomer to this site I have to say I like the patronage overall! It’s rare for me to meet a gun owner that isn’t just packing to compensate!

    I don’t have a gun but only because I live in a safer area than most of the world (Oregon) and have yet to see or be in a situation where a gun would have helped. If I move elsewhere with a higher crime rate that would likely change.

    I’m socially libertarian meaning I don’t think social issues like gayness and drugs are any business of the government. I also think everyone should pay the same percent tax which would solve a lot of problems. I also think a two party system doesn’t work for such a huge and diverse country as ours.

    I’m also a lesbian gun owner trapped in a straight guy’s body!

    • There was a farmer in Kansas that was getting ready to make a trip to Texas, he asked his older friend the storekeeper “Do you think I’ll need a gun?” His friend replied, “maybe you will and maybe you won’t. But if you do there probably won’t be time to come back and get one.”

      Don’t wait until you need a gun to get one and learn how to use it. There probably won’t be time.

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