[U]nderlying the gun control struggle is a fundamental division in our nation. The intensity of passion on this issue suggests to me that we are experiencing a sort of low-grade war going on between two alternative views of what America is and ought to be.
On the one side are those who take bourgeois Europe as a model of civilized society: a society just, equitable, and democratic; but well ordered, with the lines of responsibility and authority clearly drawn, and with decisions made rationally and correctly by intelligent men for the entire nation.
To such people, hunting is atavistic, personal violence is shameful, and uncontrolled gun ownership is a blot on civilization. On the other side is a group of people who do not tend to be especially articulate or literate, and whose world view is rarely expressed in print. ‘. They ask, because they do not understand the other side, ‘Why do these people want to disarm us?
They consider themselves no threat to anyone; they are not criminals, not revolutionaries.
But slowly, as they become politicized, they find an analysis that fits the phenomenon they experience: Someone fears their having guns, someone is afraid of their defending their families, property, and liberty.
Nasty things may begin to happen if these people begin to feel that they are cornered.
— economist B. Bruce-Briggs, writing in 1976
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