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The Psychology of Gun Ownership Revisited

Considerations of why people buy guns in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre
October 12, 2017 | Comments

About a year ago, shortly after Denying to the Grave came out, we wrote a piece for Psychology Today examining the psychology behind gun ownership. We discussed the trends in gun ownership in the U.S., with so many people claiming that they buy guns for security reasons, and asked why people continue to do this when it’s become so abundantly clear that a gun in the home makes you much less safe.

The piece was immediately visited with a lot of comments, most of them very unpleasant and some downright hateful. Despite these challenges with this particular issue, we still believe it’s essential to continue to try to have productive conversations about guns. So when we heard about the tragic massacre in Las Vegas this past week, we had a lot of thoughts to provide to several reporters who contacted us to ask about why people buy guns, among other things.

Our thoughts are reflected in this piece, in which we try to explain the phenomenon of rising gun manufacturer stock prices in the wake of national tragedies involving guns. Critica co-founder Sara Gorman also appeared on WGN-TV Chicago noting that in the midst of trying to address these mass shootings, we should not forget about some of the more “mundane” but tragically common uses of guns that pose serious threats to public health, including suicides, accidents, and domestic disputes that escalate with devastating consequences.

Needless to say, we received some more unpleasant comments on these pieces. One of them even basically amounted to a death threat. While it is always disheartening to see that, we think it’s essential to persevere in trying to have this conversation. In the wake of the tragedy in Las Vegas, we’ve seen some thoughtful coverage of the events, including an excellent interview with David Hemenway of the Harvard School of Public Health, who also reminds us of the public health threats associated with guns and speculates a possible contagion effect that could in part spur on these mass shootings. We also took note of this passionate piece by Thomas Friedman. We also saw some unfortunate sensational coverage of the terrible events in Las Vegas, including this debacle at Google.

As we all try to process this terrible tragedy, let’s remain firm in our resolve to truly do something about gun violence in this country. We will remain committed to this issue long after it falls out of the news cycle, and we hope you will too.

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