[Ed. – Smart, thought-provoking piece]
…[P]ointing the finger at the gun lobby misses the underlying values that define the owning of a gun in the first place — the values of safety and freedom. In the American version of the ‘hierarchy of needs,’ these two values are at the top. According to Pew Research polling, 67 percent of gun owners own a weapon for “protection.” Guns = safety and security. Those who want more gun restrictions argue that guns are often used to harm not protect. That even the most conscientious gun owners can cause accidents. But, gun owners don’t see things that way. That may not make sense to many of us who don’t own one, but it does to them.
Gun owners also see the ownership of a firearm just as valuable as the right to vote, freedom of speech and freedom of religion. For example, when asked if freedom of speech is “essential to their own sense of freedom,” 94 percent of gun owners and 92 percent of non-gun owners agreed. But, when asked if the right to own guns was also an “essential freedom,” the divide between gun owners and non-gun owners was dramatic.