The gun has an indelible presence in America’s popular consciousness. The myth-making entertainment industry has embellished and magnified the gun’s prominent role in the narrative of the nation’s founding and rapid expansion across the continent over Indian lands and trackless wilds.
But reverence for history isn’t what’s really driving the soaring rate of gun ownership among Americans.
Today something stronger than the hunting culture or nostalgia for an adventure-filled frontier past is keeping gun fetishism alive — social paranoia. A dread of unseen threats against one’s personal safety feeds the demand for automatic assault rifles and handguns, much to the delight of obliging firearm manufacturers.
Up to 47 percent of Americans reported owning firearms in 2011, according to the Gallup Poll. Consequently, the U.S. has the highest rate of gun-related homicides among the industrialized countries. Changing these statistics is a formidable challenge.
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