Hyper-Individualism And U.S. Gun Violence Are Related

U.S. cultural issues like individualism and exceptionalism are partly to blame for the nation's gun violence

"Hyper-Individualism And U.S. Gun Violence Are Related" by Gary Schmitt and Yossarian Johnson.

As we once again struggle with the national gun control debate, it has occurred to us that American problems with gun violence are partially rooted in "hyper-individualism", the American adventurer mythos, that has been part of the American identity since the founding. This founding myth is now firmly entrenched in the psyche of some Americans as core 'truths' indispensable to their movements.

Here is the problem with hyper-individualism as it relates to gun rights or any other societal challenge:

Hyper-individualism presumes that our individual rights supersede the need for collective group rights. While we must protect individualism, we also must be protect the society at large from individuals or policies that would harm it.

In addition to hyper-individualism, our myopia with guns partially comes from a misinterpretation of the Second Amendment, which reads: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Far from being an absolute right, the Founders intentionally created the U.S. court system for the purpose of examining the legal tension between collective rights and individual rights. Sometimes, like in Korematsu, the Court has been wrong, while in other times, like Windsor, the Court was right.

Until we address the cultural underpinnings of gun violence, we will continue to have the highest rate of civilian gun deaths of any country, including mass murders, to our great shame and the needless loss of so many innocent lives.

The best way of changing culture is through adopting laws and embracing institutions.

The American wild west mythology of "shoot em up cowboy" is a detriment to our nation and individual safety.

Jack Browning
Jack Browning

I will maintain that the term "militia" has not been misinterpreted. In revolutionary times a militia was locally organized and compiled of locals who could come and leave at their discretion and had to personally provide their own small arms. The continental congress or new US Govt. did not supply them with arms. They had to purchase, maintain, and use their own gun This is not up for debate or interpretation, it is simply and factually the way it was and the way they saw it.