Guns and the Crisis of Masculinity in the US

In a recent online debate about gun control, I sensed the way the gun advocates were actually “hostile” in a very specific sense. Hostility in the sense I think usefully defined in George Kelly’s Personal Construct Theory as what results when someone’s theory of how the world works is serially invalidated. When it no longer works as a predictive method.

The rather fragile self view of many men based on unquestioned dominance over women is now being indeed serially invalidated, as women overtake men in educational attainment in many countries. Take on more senior roles in work. And expect to be equal emotional partners in marriage, or live their own lives, and certainly have control over reproductive matters, and not just be emotional props to fragile male egos. 

If creating an equal playing field has had this effect, it maybe suggests we need to reconsider how we raise boys to help them be less scardy pants about themselves, the world and their place in it, so needing to be less hostile in Kelly’s sense. Less oppressive. 

It has certainly occurred to me that 10,000 years of societal structures to oppress women (and for that matter minorities) are driven by feelings of personal inadequacy by their largely male architects. Why create oppressive structures if you aren’t scared? And in the case of the violence against women (and minorities) type of men, yep they do seem indeed to be inadequate. Mistaking power for love. Hence the need for guns. Better to remove the need for guns than threaten them with taking them away while they are still scared.

And I don’t propose crop dusting men with unjustified self-esteem either, as the education system seems to. Self-esteem to be valuable has to be earned and based on realism and not encouraging narcissistic grandiosity. Teach boys (and girls for that matter) how to achieve realistic, earned self-esteem and compassion for self and others maybe? Men need a men’s movement of some sort to support this. It is not up to women to do this, though in helping men raise boys differently they can help. But men need to be different role models showing compassion for self and others. Hunt if you must, but spare us the gun as crutch for your mental fears.

About creativeconflictwisdom

I spent 32 years in a Fortune Five company working on conflict: organizational, labor relations and senior management. I have consulted in a dozen different business sectors and the US Military. I work with a local environmental non profit. I have written a book on the neuroscience of conflict, and its implications for conflict handling called Creative Conflict Wisdom (forthcoming).
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8 Responses to Guns and the Crisis of Masculinity in the US

  1. TonyGee says:

    My wife and I are not a gun owners and we will be one at some point, most likely when the children have all left. My wife wants to get one sooner then later. She has had many offers to take us both out for gun lessens and to shoot at a friends property in the county.

    I’m not sure what this, “George Kelly’s Personal Construct Theory” would say about my story nor do I care. Here is an interesting intellectual commentary on the matter…..

    • @Tony Gee. Thanks I will take a look. At first sight it would interest George Kelly who was of no political stance at all. Just interested like Fritz Perls mentioned in the article as to how the human psyche works.

    • @TonyGee. I had a longer look. I am a believer in law and order and think like Thomas Hobbes that the state prevents the law of all against all. And I think the state, at least a democratically elected state should have a monopoly of violence to maintain law and order and for defense against external threat. So I don’t agree with this article at all on this. Thomas Hobbes pointed out that if we all go round armed (as was the case in the middle ages) and all disagree about what constitutes a threat or a disrespect they will be mayhem. And indeed the murder rate in the middle ages was probably 50 times what it is today. So spare me an armed population. I spend 4 months a year in the UK where guns are more or less illegal except for hunting and where carrying a knife for self defense is also illegal. And as a result the UK has minute killing rates compared with the US and its other crime rates are not what the NRA pretends. So get your guns in due course but the risk from them is much greater due to accident or abusive use than the tiny probability they will defend your family. And take really good training lessons from pros. Two of my friends here are ex FBI agents and the wife was one of their top shots. I am hoping to have her train me so I know more about the subject and the use of firearms. Like most police she doesn’t support lots of guns around because without monthly instant reflex training most people in a violent situation are worse than useless and more likely to get themselves or bystanders killed than stop the killer. Police in non violent areas who don’t train monthly show how dangerous the untrained with a gun are.

      • TonyGee says:

        I can agree with you on one point if every solder had a gun at Ft. Hood then the blood bath would have been awful and death toll high. Why, not every solider with a gun would have seen the first shot so subsequently someone would have shot the second shooter neutralizing the first and so-on till a bloody mess. I do believe that there should be armed guards at larger gathering halls, buildings etc. in the military instillations so something like that never happens again.

        More importantly people kill people we see this in the penalties of DUI convictions. We need mental illness to be taken very seriously and its not. The mass killing that we hear about and the blame is first put on the gun. Then later when the news has died down and deeper in the paper and subsequent article we find out the killer had mental issues. If you really care about, the state is to protect us all, “And I think the state, at least a democratically elected state should have a monopoly of violence to maintain law and order and for defense against external threat.” Then where is your rant on the state metal boards not protecting the deceased. The state is protected and cant be sued for wrongful death where is your rant on changing these laws.

        I think you just want Big Government which is and will be NO better then Big Oil or Big Company. The government will become, “To BIG to FAIL” if its not already. The sad thing is the government was to be there for us as last resort. I hate having to repeat myself so I will any way because it is important. Those in office who are to be representing us in DC and our state capitals are there to protect the elite, establishment which is themselves to be re-elected and to be in control of us all. They play the cat and mouse game among themselves and most importantly keep us occupied at each others throats so they can go about controlling us and making themselves more important in our lives until ultimately we ALL are dependent on Big Government who will no longer be trusted (at a larger margin then now) just as we know big company is today. But its all good you want be around when that happens you’ll go to sleep THINKING you were right and won’t know the difference because your gone.

        So I ask again where is your Rant on mental illness and the government mental boards allowing these potential killers out on the streets!? WE have DUI Laws (in my state they own you for a year). States have passed laws to protect us from these bad people who drink and drive. We need to be able to make laws so we can prosecute these boards and bring suit against them for these wrongful deaths from the killers of the mental heath community, or they better make laws to protect us from mental illness patients walking, driving, working among us all.

        Drunk Drivers Kill People not the Car, then so do Mental Health Patents Kill People not the Weapon.

  2. TonyGee says:

    Drunk Drivers Kill People not the Car, then so do Mental Health Patients Kill people not the Weapons. Agree?

    • @TonyGee. Well actually if the car is unsafe, it is the unsafe car that kills. And if the driver is not properly trained, it may be the lack of training that kills. So by extension, I think guns should be safely stored and gun owners should be properly licensed and have to pass a test of gun safety before they can have a gun and if they mis-use a gun, just like with a car, they should lose the right to have a gun. Similarly anyone who commits a violent felony should lose the right to own or carry a gun for a time or for life if serious felony like robbing a bank. And yes NRA cooperation on research so we can spot potentially mentally ill gun owners would be good too. I also think gun owners should have to have liability insurance just like car owners so if they take a gun outside the home to hunt or whatever, they have insurance for any damage or injury they cause. And if they do big damage they should lose their insurance and the right to carry a gun outside the home.

  3. TonyGee says:

    Respectfully I say No because You are changing the premise. The premise is simply “people kill people.” Even though your ideas Sound good it has uncontainable and the unintended consequences would be off the charts. Most serenely with a government getting to the point of being to BIG the FAIL. You nor does anybody want to change a fundamental Constitutional Right (which is another premise) we start down that road and it would be disastrous.

    Then again it just might be what we need…..Or were you suggesting even I, that in order to be an US Citizen one has to have a license to walk about the USA? That might be a good idea, we need to think about that one…….

    The licensing could, would and should include: …………
    Education, High School maybe Collage, Why stop there? You bring up a grate idea we will add, parenting classes, gun and driving training, working, social and fixing/repairing skills, and pass a vigorous mental evaluation examination, what else would you like to add. Once we all, the wanta-be-US Citizen passes the tests and demonstrates safety and the abilities they have learned we get a license to become citizens. We all must have insurance to protect us from any wrong doing and subsequent law-suits and attorney fees we might incur. If anyone violates these reasonable laws would loose some or even all their rights. These rights could be trimmed based on the violation. Like ability to buy and sell goods, drive, ownership of guns and parenting children, free speech like post blogs, the loss of rights to be in public places, schools, libraries, museums, it could even mean being expelled from the country or jailed,

    That does not sound like freedom that sounds like…..I can’t say it I love being free to make choices. Hay what ever happened to those slogans….. I Believe in Freedom of Choice….. Human Rights……This is Between Me and My Doctor……..What Two Consenting Adults Do in the Bedroom is Between Them Only……

    Ya-know Creative as I was thinking this morning getting ready for my day. I was talking to my wife. I was thinking how back in the early 1900 working for companies was good. Then the companies became evil and unions raised to power in the 30’s and 40’s became good. The unions turned around the ability for the common man to buy things example Ford Motor Co. (the creation of the assembly line). Then it became good again to work for big companies. Many of their employees became more then the common man. The ability to retire early with grate pensions the unions were able to secure for them 70’s 80’s and into the 90’s. As we approached the turn of this Century we see again companies being evil and with the loss of power from unions the government stepping in to be the good guys to solve all the wrongs. The problem government can’t fix stuff, they can only create laws and throw money around in hopes that it will change behavior. Sometimes this works but always only creates more issues that need to be fixed so more money and laws needed to be passed with the expectation of curbing the behavior of the people again. Then the cycle starts over again, the unintended consequence happens and it needs to be fixed again and on-and-on again. The concern needed to be put on the government because it will run out of money in it’s ability to fulfill the obligations and promises it has created. Then the collapse of our Democratic by Representation Government.

    When will the money that the people want the government to take from others and give to them run out? If the answer is never then we have our heads in the sand. There will come a time that the needs will out weigh the haves and anyone who thinks the “PEOPLE” (the elected) in the government does not want to be on the side of the HAVES…well those people don’t have their heads in the sand it is somewhere else the sun does not shine.

    I need to go to work…did not double check it

    But please lets stay on track people kill people and the rights of the constitution as the premises.

    • @TonyGee. Guns + people = gun deaths. Guns don’t do it alone but people use guns to kill themselves, their domestic partners, family and strangers/other gang members. The Second Amendment says: “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.” It is only in the last few years that this has been interpreted to mean the right to bear arms as an individual rather than in the National Guard or whatever. Also according to the Supreme Court, “the term “regulated” means “disciplined” or “trained”. In Heller, the U.S. Supreme Court stated that “[t]he adjective ‘well-regulated’ implies nothing more than the imposition of proper discipline and training.” And the latter is precisely my point.

      When we first introduced cars without need for training and driving licenses tens of thousands were killed even with few cars on the roads. So we limited the freedom to drive by requiring training and a license that can be lost if you drive badly. Seems fine given the Second Amendment wording on “well regulated” to extend this to guns whose use kills 30,000 people a year. I don’t see requiring training as infringing anything except my freedom not to be shot by an un-trained gun owner. The mental health issue remains, but at least let’s have trained and insured gun users outside their homes, and probably a notice on the door of gun owners: “enter here at your own risk as I have no training in guns but have some guns that may go off any time.” By the way if you want a good home defense weapon a Remington 870 pump action shotgun with 18 inch barrel is probably best, but I would suggest as you are intending you told me, you get good training from responsible expert trainers before buying. If you have close neighbors an assault rifle will likely penetrate walls and kill them if you use it in the house. Shot-guns don’t do this. And pistols aren’t not for the inexperienced shot. Though as my ex FBI friends tell me, guns are mostly useless without monthly reflex to target training. Even cops mostly fail to use them in the heat of the moment and kill bystanders instead of the bad guys.

      I think of the government as we the people. If the government is bought by corporations that is a corruption of political process and should be stopped. If the government is wasteful we the people should vote it to be less wasteful. And as far as I am concerned the economy rests on working people like you and who I was before I retired: the makers. It does not rest on Hedge Fund managers or consultants, it rests on the shoulders of assembly line workers, farmers, miners, oil rig workers, chemical plant operators, nurses, doctors, cooks, teachers, police, fire, military… whoever directly adds value. The only role for the rest is to get obstacles out of the way of value adders or organize/manage things so value adding is possible. They should get a bit more: an assembly plant manager is maybe worth five times a line worker. And maybe a CEO of a big company is worth 5-10 times a plant manager but they sure aren’t worth 100 times a plant manager as at present.

      Modern society is complex and needs more rules than 1800 era society, but government can get out of hand. I want more smart, lean government and less big fat useless government, especially in regulating Wall Street so it is not too big to fail.

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