Armed Citizens and the Stories They Tell The National Rifle Association's Achievement of Terror and Masculinity, Kevin Lewis O'Neill, Stanford University, Men and Masculinities April 2007 vol. 9 no. 4 457-475
Since 1926, the National Rifle Association's (NRA) flagship publication has without pause featured “The Armed Citizen,” a column that reports instances in which law-abiding citizens have successfully defended their property, person, and/or family with firearms. These reports are brief (100 to 200 words) and have remained remarkably untouched over the past 80 years with regard to style, diction, and narrative structure. Their rhetorical effect, however, has not. In 1977, the year the NRA became a social movement, these narratives began to contribute to the production of a terror-filled, deeply masculine (and surprisingly biblical) NRA discourse that led (and continues to lead) to the mobilization of its members to defend the right to keep and bear arms in the face of extraordinary public opposition: to perpetuate what has come to be known as the “gun-control paradox.”
Articles citing this article
In most states in the U.S. it is legal to carry a concealed handgun in public, but little is known about why people want to do this. While the existing literature argues that guns symbolize masculinity, most research on the actual use of guns has focused on marginalized men. The issue of concealed handguns is interesting because they must remain concealed and because relatively privileged men are most likely to have a license to carry one. Using in-depth interviews with 20 men, this article explores how they draw on discourses of masculinity to explain their use of concealed handguns. These men claim that they are motivated by a desire to protect their wives and children, to compensate for lost strength as they age, and to defend themselves against people and places they perceive as dangerous, especially those involving racial/ethnic minority men. These findings suggest that part of the appeal of carrying a concealed firearm is that it allows men to identify with hegemonic masculinity through fantasies of violence and self-defense.