How Tragedies Like San Bernardino Fuel The Powerful Fantasy World Of Gun Nuts

When you listen to gun-lovers in the wake of another mass shooting you hear the same rationalizations over and over again.

Rationalizations to explain why we don’t have a gun problem in this country. Or if we do, the problem is that we don’t have enough guns.

“Rationalization” is not the best word to describe these ideas. In truth they are fantasies.

Fantasies that a lot of gun owners carry around in their heads. And fantasies they have already given themselves credit for living out in real life.

Just look at the way they talk about themselves. They are “real Americans”. Patriots. Good guys with guns. If the government would just get out of their way they could solve all these mass shootings.

The most powerful fantasy is the one where the gun-lover imagines that one day in the future they will thwart a bad gun with a gun.

They picture themselves sitting in a public space as a shooting breaks out. And in their imagination they see themselves grabbing their rifle, shooting the bad guy and winning the day.

Easy peasy.

Of course, things always work out for the best when we fantasize.

How many kids dream of growing up and losing the Super Bowl?

Or finishing second at the Olympics. Or the Oscars?

Every time a 2nd-Amendment-Only Patriot dreams about being the good guy who stops the bad guy, things go exactly the way he wants them to.

These are fantasy after all, not nightmares.

Examine the quote above from someone who calls himself “FreedomFighter”.

It is typical.

The writer imagines a scenario in which a well armed citizen not only has his weapon loaded and ready to go (at all times), but then deploys it with pinpoint accuracy.

Whether it is in a well lit conference room or a pitch dark movie theatre, the good guy with a gun always knows instantaneously who to shoot and who not to.

Every single time he hits only the bad guys.

And in cases where there are more than one good guy, the two good guys never mistake the other for a bad guy.

And in this person’s mind, successful citizen intervention doesn’t just happen occasionally. It happens “hundreds of thousands of times a year.”

Wow! I had no idea. Why isn’t the liberal media cover these 100’s of thousands of heroic, successful citizen interventions?

For that matter, why isn’t Fox News telling us about these amazing success stories?

Let’s be conservative and ignore the fact that the claim of “hundreds of thousands” is plural. As in more than one hundred thousand. For the sake of simplicity let’s just deal with an even hundred thousand a year.

That’s 274 successful citizen interventions. Every single day.

In this Patriot’s imagination the good-guy citizens are like the Harlem Globetrotters. They always win.

That would make the bad guys with guns the Washington Generals. Incompetent boobs whose job it is to make the heroes look good.

The comparison to the Globetrotters is actually pretty accurate. The games are rigged so the Globetrotters always win. And in the imagination of the gun-toting good guy, things are always rigged in his favor.

Why shouldn’t they, it’s a personal fantasy after all.

But things get even better for this Patriot. Because not only do the good guys vanquish the bad guys but they:

…. would have already put the perpetrators down and be watching the blood pool around them only to gleefully lay their weapon on the floor when the police arrived

See how easy this is? In every case the good guy’s work is done before the cops get there.

How convenient.

Because it is only logical that things might get messy if, while the good guys are doing their thing, the cops were to show up unannounced (how rude) and not be able to tell the good guys from the bad guys.

But no worries. America’s patriotic gun-toting heroes have solved this problem by only fantasizing about scenarios where the cops show up just after the good guys have won.

But Wait, There’s More!

Because these heroes don’t just lay down their weapons in some ordinary manner as the cops arrive, the do so “gleefully”.

Gleefully. Why would the hero be gleeful unless they were able to put the bad guys down BEFORE they shot even a single innocent person?

Oh, that’s right. Because this is all a fantasy playing out in the person’s head. So of course everything goes just perfectly.

But in reality, a shooting can break out at any moment.

In reality, only the attacker knows the attack is about to begin.

In reality, no citizen goes through every moment of every day on high alert. Ready for any and all attackers at all times. Hell, real soldiers and policeman aren’t on that level of high alert at all times. Even when they are on duty.

In reality, most would-be citizen heroes have exactly zero experience in a high stress, sensory overload type situation where hundreds of rounds of bullets are flying every few seconds.

In reality, even a well armed, well trained citizen sitting in that conference room in San Bernardino would have been unable to react fast enough to prevent all of the deaths that occurred.

In fact, the shooter killed his first victim outside the building. The first victim was sitting on the patio by the entrance taking a break. He was dead before the shooter got inside.

No matter what how much carnage a citizen soldier may have been able to prevent, they wouldn’t have prevented it all.

There would be no glee in that room. In reality.

But reality isn’t what matters.

What matters to the gun-toting patriot are his fantasies. And the self image the develops from imagining these fantasies over and over again.

What matters is the positive, powerful, self-affirming emotions he experiences over and over as an imaginary citizen-soldier.

It has been pointed out many times that the gun industry profits from tragedies like the one that just took place in San Bernardino. Gun sales always spike due to fears that gun laws might be tightened.

I would suggest that people who see themselves as a hero who may one day stop such a shooting, well, they got a psychological boost from Wednesday’s tragedy.

I am not suggesting any of these people are happy that innocent people died on Wednesday.

But I do think they have gotten a psychological boost from it. That their fantasies have been intensified. That when they went to bed on Wednesday night many of them dreamed of a scenario where a San Bernardino type shooting broke out. And then they pull out their gun to save the day.

In their dreams things laid out just the way “FreedomFighter” quoted above described it

And it felt good.

And this weekend when they meet with their friends at the shooting range things will be more intense than usual.

The talk of being patriots and warriors and freedom fighters will be louder and more intense.

And it will feel good.