There is a commonly held belief among some gun rights advocates that access to weapons allows citizens to protect themselves, either from the dangers of society or tyrannical government.
According to criminologist Richard Moran, however, those beliefs are misguided, and the gun rights advocates who cling to them contribute to the nation’s ongoing problem with gun violence.
Moran, a professor of sociology at Mount Holyoke College, said that despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, people incorrectly believe that owning a gun makes them safer.
“They believe it very strongly, and it’s something they feel right down to their bones,” Moran said. “So it’s very hard to convince them otherwise. They are part of the problem, but they see themselves as the solution, and it’s hard to change that.”
Moran, who teaches courses on social problems at Mount Holyoke, said that any solution to the ongoing crisis of gun violence must coincide with a shift in cultural attitudes about weapons.
“People are resistant to facts,” he said. “People don’t care what the data shows. They feel they know differently. Not everyone is swayed by the reality that’s really out there. They’re swayed by the reality they’ve created or that they believe is out there. And they all feel that they’re the exception.”