Why exactly did gun culture blossom in the US and, seemingly, not in most other Western countries?

Nobody needed to worry about the Second Amendment for most of the country’s history, because firearm purchase and ownership weren’t being restricted until fairly recently. When any of an individual’s rights are being oppressed, we hear about it.

But people’s firearms rights are being restricted more and more. And the restrictions do not appear to make us safer as reflected by crime rates. So when many of us hear more regulations are coming, we object and resist.

Canada? They have a decent ‘gun culture’ going.

Australia? It is estimated that only 20% of affected firearms were turned in between now and Port Arthur.

New York? Get away from Albany and NYC and nobody follows most restrictions, although they are presumably available for selective enforcement.

Americans wanted to keep the whole “get outraged to lethal levels at any minor insult” thing but without an aristocracy, there wasn’t any emphasis on learning how to use swords.

The fuck you talking about, Willis ? The US crime rate has been steadily declining since the nineties.

Notactually true. There was a good deal of violence between colonists and indigenous Australians in the colonial era, but it’s been mostly swept under the rug, because the Australian ideal was to believe that the country was settled peacefully. And guns were very commonly carried and used, both for that reason and for hunting.

What’s missing here, however, is any sizeable body of people who distrust our own government. I was reading a fascinating bookon the subject just this week actually - mostly it’s about compulsory voting, but the author makes a strong case that Australian and American attitudes towards government are rooted in our different experiences of early colonial days. Colonial Australia was heavily subsidised by the British government and local taxes were mostly customs duties which are not so visible as property tax or income tax - it built a bunch of useful stuff like roads, schools and a justice system, and we weren’t the ones paying for it. And when we wanted to govern ourselves we got that without having to fight for it. The subset of the population who wants to arm itself as a defence against tyranny is essentially totally missing. And it seems that ‘defence against tyranny’ is a major component of the pro-gun rhetoric in the US

Well, now you do have to define what you mean by “gun culture”, because I’d venture a guess that what we view as normal, you would say was that “oppression” thingie, and restriction of firearms rights.

For example, anyone who wants to buy a long arm has to have a “PAL” - “possession and acquisition licence.”

You also need a PAL to buy ammunition.

To get a PAL you have to go through a firearms safety course, and also a background check by the police (OPP in Ontario, Sûreté de Québec in Quebec, federal RCMP in the rest of the country, in cooperation with municipal police). And the background checks include interviewing your spouse, family members, roommates, employers. And a check for any pending or completed criminal charges. Right now, the checks cover the pas five years, but the current government has proposed that the check could go back to the time you turned 16 or so. And it’s not a “shall issue” kind of test.

And if you want to sell firearms as a business, you need a licence. Ditto for ammunition. With background checks to get the licence. And strict firearm storage laws, and records-keeping.

And if you do get a long arm, it must be kept under lock and key when you’re not using it, in a secure gun safe, or with a trigger lock. You can’t keep a loaded shotgun by your bed, in other words, which a lot of US gun-friendly posters on these boards have advocated in previous threads.

And if you want a handgun, another licence is needed, to buy a restricted firearm. And another gun safety course. And you must keep it under lock and key when not being used. And it must be registered with the Federal Firearms Registry. And any transfer of a handgun has to be recorded in the Registry.

And, the only thing you can use a handgun for is target practice. Your restricted possession licence only allows you to have it at your home, at a firing range, and in transit between the two.

Handguns for personal safety? Armoured car guards can get a permit for that type of possession, but only for when they’re on the job. So too can trappers and lumbermen, and others whose jobs take them into wilderness areas.

Possession of a handgun for personal safety, with right of concealed carry? You need another licence for that. Most estimates I’ve seen is that there are about 400 licences for that, out of the entire population. An applicant has to demonstrate an imminent threat to their lives to get one.

So yes, we have a gun culture in Canada, for hunting and target practice, but heavily regulated. Could American “gun enthusiasts” agree that our gun culture is acceptable to them? Or, if a government in the US tried to implement a similar system, would it be the “oppression” and threats to your rights that you’ve mentioned ?

I dont see anything there which indicates the Aborigines were “warlike”, sure the white warred upon them, and the Aborigines did carry out a few raids, but several American Indian tribes were actually warlike and carried on more than a few small raids. Witness Custer.

American tribes weren’t really all that warlike either until y’alls started pushing them around and out of the lands they’d called home for as far as they could remember. I thought y’all even had a day specifically about this, what was it called… Gratitude Bestowing ? No, no, that ain’t it…
Read Geronimo’s autobio if you like, it’s short, open source and lays the grievances of the old warchief quite plainly, if a bit white-translator-coloredly. That’s just one datapoint of course, but since he’s kind of an icon of the “irredentist warlike indians” motif, it’s an important one. As is the fact that he didn’t embark on his path of raids and guerilla warfare before Mexican *federales *slaughtered his entire tribe’s women and children while the men were away trading.

And in Spain there was never a limit on free citizens having weapons; heck, even if there had been at some point the idea that “only the nobility can have weapons”, when you go through a couple of centuries of “everybody and his dog is at least hidalgo*” that means “everybody and his dog has the right to have weapons”. But we see them as tools for either work or sport, not as the expression of our power and independence.

  • Lit. “child of something”, the very lowest layer of the Spanish nobility. Someone whose ancestors were more than hidalgo but who didn’t inherit whatever title these ancestors had.
    Note that our “nobility” is a lot wider than the UK concept: the people who in the UK sit in the House of Lords (a concept which has never existed in Spain) would be roughly equivalent to our “higher nobility” (of which the highest tier would be the grandes de España).

Yeah, well, we didn’t have a reign of terror to remind how badly that can go.

Vastly overblown and demonized by those who took over. Also, we didn’t control guns after it at all.

No, Canadians just have a conditional right to own guns that is highly regulated – completely different story from the US, and much more like Europe and essentially all other advanced democracies. Any “gun culture” that exists is a small minority of gun-club type fantatics; most citizens don’t own guns at all or might own a hunting rifle if they’re hunters or rural farmers, and consider them tools of no more special interest than a hammer or a saw. If you showed up in public in any city in Canada looking like these guys in the first picture, you’d be arrested within five minutes – probably by a SWAT team.

Thanks to Northern Piper for taking the time to describe the laws in detail in #25.

Ireland also achieved responsible government by revolutionary means, but it didn’t make the state keen on distributing firearms. A bitter civil war, lost by a faction that refused to accept the result as final, meant Ireland kept all the British-era gun restrictions, and added some more over the years.

Further resources on the Frontier Wars

Aboriginal Australians were less successful against colonists than in the US and New Zealand (not sure about Canada) and they were operating from a bigger technology gap, but both sides were attacking each other in ones and twos on a regular basis - and if you look at reports from settler times people did feel that they were in danger from “the blacks”, and did arm themselves for protection.

There was less in the way of official military action, but just as much danger of a couple of pissed off native dudes with spears coming to rough you up, kill you, and take your stuff - which is exactly the sort of danger that individual arms are supposed to protect against.

British people had the right to bear arms, and to do so to protect themselves from tyranny*, a century before the 2nd amendment was even a thing.

  • Catholic tyranny, as evidenced by the restriction of the right to Protestants.

A better example is New Zealand, no snakes are native, the most ferocious critter is a parrot. Conversely the natives weren’t just warlike, they beat the colonists to a draw hence there is a Treaty of Waitangi and the Australian natives are still trying to get the whites to the negotiating table.

The NZ gun culture and gun laws run reasonably close parallel to Australia, though they are going to get a whole lot tougher in the wake of Christchurch.

The Antipodean approach (stereotypically) is that the government, if not necessarily on your side, is there to give you a fair go. And your neighbour is your mate who will help you when the chips are down. I guess we might rate society rights on a more equal footing with personal rights. In the US (by stereotype) the government is ag’in you, your neighbour coverts your land and your ass and nothing but your trusty flintlock guarantees your safety and winter vittles.

Interesting the consistent views posted that US gun culture is a mid 20th century thing more than a frontier or even Civil War era tradition handed down father to son.

I come from an rural family. Every family home I was aware of had fire arms (rifles/shot guns, no hand guns). Most used for vermin control. Some were more into hunting than others. Dad had six in an unsecured cabinet. There was a 22 behind the seat of the Land Cruiser. Even when the gun accidentally went off and shot out the passenger side window it stayed in place. There was periodic disquiet at the occasional mass shooting in the cities and resistance to any mooted restrictions. Cultural steady state. Then Port Arthur occurred. We knew of nobody involved but resistance melted. Mum, her sister-in-laws, the women of the district in near unison said enough and the menfolk handed in all or had disabled all but the minimum and these were kept in properly secured cabinets.
Just a personal anecdote. Read into it what you will.

I’m kinda drunk and read that as “the most ferocious critter is a carrot”. And I’m like “I know, right ?! I’ve been to those vegan joints, very aggro !”
Carry on. Look, I’m only trying to make you laugh, there’s no guarantee of success.

I snorted :smiley:

I think it has to do with the fact that white colonizers (and later capitalists) were essentially trying to settle a frontier, and they regularly competed with tribes for territory and trade. For Euro-American settlers, firearms ensured their survival. Firearms served a similar purpose in controlling slaves as well, and keeping firearms out of the hands of blacks in the South post-Civil War. America’s firearms culture grew out of a need to conquer and defend territory as white Americans kept pushing West and kept competing for land and resources. In a larger sense, they are tools that have ensured the dominance of the white man in America. Even today, it’s more than just a coincidence that stand your ground laws seem to encourage white men to arm themselves to the teeth and legalize vigilantism while felons, including non-violent convicts, many of whom are black, are forever prohibited from owning a weapon.

Here’s a possibility: The American Constitution was written at a time when we were still a frontier nation. At the time, gun culture made sense, and so we ended up with the Second Amendment. But then the Second Amendment ended up perpetuating the gun culture even after the continent became more civilized and the culture went obsolete. Canada and Australia, meanwhile, didn’t write their constitutions until after they were civilized, giving gun culture a chance to die out on its own first, and so never had anything like the Second Amendment.

That’s not exactly true. Various native tribes were quite warlike and aggressive way before Europeans showed up. The Iroquois had their “mourning wars” and enslaved POWs, Pacific Northwest natives practiced slavery too, and the human sacrifices and general martial-worshipping culture of the Mississipians don’t exactly scream “not warlike”.