Psychology Today offers readers a look at “the psychological principles behind gun ownership.” I’d prefer a look at the psychological principles behind gun control advocacy (especially the influence of “projection”). But that would involve too much introspection for Doctors Gorman and Gorman [above]. It’s clear from the get-go that the husband-and-wife headshrinkers would like gun ownership included in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).
One of the most striking conclusions of this research is that the person most likely to be shot by a gun at home is a member of the owner’s household, not an armed intruder.
We might expect this finding to dramatically change the discourse around gun ownership from one about the right to protect oneself from intruders to one about the complex issues, such as domestic violence and suicide, that lead to the bulk of gun deaths in this country.
These scientific facts, however, have not only failed to change the conversation but have also been largely unsuccessful at convincing people that on the whole gun ownership makes you less safe. In light of these failures, perhaps we should change the question from “how do we get guns away from people?” to “why do they want to own guns in the first place?”
If people have been given all the information they need to make a rational decision about gun ownership, why do they persist in arguing that guns will keep them safe?
The doctors Gorman ignore a simple fact: there are at least 55k estimated defensive gun uses per year. Other studies show over a million. Even if you compare the smaller number to the total number of deaths by firearm per year (~30k), some half of which are suicides, gun ownership is still a net positive.
All of which means the Gormans are basing their article on a deeply flawed, indeed highly biased thesis. You’d be forgiven for not reading a single word. So it’s just as well that PT considers brevity the soul of alleged insight.
In addition to our difficulty with risk perception, it is clear that we humans are terrible at changing our minds. Psychologists and neuroscientists have shown that our brains are wired to reject change.
Not only does confrontation with an idea that challenges a firmly held belief provoke activity in the fear centers of our brains but agreeing with people who share our beliefs actually stimulates the reward centers.
Hence, being confronted with facts about the dangers of gun ownership when we have already been convinced that owning a gun will make us safer may actually cause our fear centers to fire, producing ferocious resistance. On the contrary, satisfying our pre-conceived notion that gun ownership will make us safer is actually pleasurable.
If the Gorman duo reckon Americans who defend their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms find arguing the case pleasurable, they should spend a little time at the range. Talk about satisfaction!
After comparing gun ownership to cigarette smoking, the Gorman duo end their PC rant with a plea to armchair psychologists to ask the “why” rather than the “how” of gun ownership. Until they do, “we will not be able to avert potentially dangerous decisions that put all of us at risk.”
As jpfo.org reported, “According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), gang homicides accounted for roughly 8,900 of 11,100 gun murders in both 2010 and 2011. How about asking why so many urban youths join gangs? As the Dixie Chicks sing, there’s your trouble.