Is gun control a cultural issue?

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Dennis A. Henigan, Brady Center Vice President and author of “Lethal Logic,” writes in a June 22 column posted by Huffington Post that, “Gun control frequently is referred to — alongside issues like abortion and gay rights — as a ‘cultural” issue.’ Indeed, it is fashionable in some quarters to refer to the cluster of cultural issues as ‘God, guns, and gays.’ The Obama Administration has taken some heat for its failure to show leadership on this set of issues. As the Boston Globe described it, Obama has declared a “cease-fire in the culture wars.”

“But is gun control inherently, and inevitably, a cultural issue? What makes it a cultural issue? I do not doubt the real and symbolic significance of gun ownership for millions of Americans. For many Americans, particularly in rural areas, guns embody important values of self-reliance and personal liberty. But it is also true that over 80 percent of gun owners support extending Brady Act background checks to private sales at gun shows. Even most self-identified members of the National Rifle Association support handgun registration and mandatory safety training before purchasing a firearm. Why is gun control considered a ‘cultural’ issue, when those who value guns support various forms of gun control?”

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