The problem is gun culture, not SCOTUS

This is an edition of The Atlantic Daily, a newsletter that walks you through the biggest stories of the day, helps you discover new ideas, and recommends the best of the culture. Sign up here.

I thought of myself as a gun control conservative – I advocated both the right to own firearms and the interest of the state to restrict that right – but American gun culture is not about rights. It’s about performative insecurity.

But first, here are three great new stories from The Atlantic.

Great iron

In 1959, country singer Marty Robbins wrote a ballad about a murderous outlaw who met his deserved end at the hands of a handsome young Arizona Ranger who wore the “Big Iron on his hip”. (The song was allegedly inspired by a weapon Robbins saw in a shop, but there is some doubt that the Big Iron was a real gun.)

It’s a great song. But it wasn’t meant to be a guide to life in modern America.

I don’t have the energy or the experience to argue whether the Supreme Court should have faced the case of a New York State law restricting the ability to carry guns in public. Honestly, I just assume that many dips in American quality of life for the foreseeable future will be heralded with “In a 6-3 decision …” The elections have consequences and, with the current composition of the Court, this decision was inevitable.

The problem is not the court decision. The problem is a teenage gun culture, loaded with drama, a love affair with guns that has only become extreme in the last quarter century.

It was not like this. I grew up around guns; my father had been a police officer and we had two. My older half-brother, who lived a few streets away, was a police officer. Our neighbor was a police officer. My hometown was a military town, and most of the men I knew were veterans who owned weapons and knew how to handle them. (There were also some veteran women. My mother, for example.)

What I remember about guns is that I hardly remember anything about guns. People possessed They; they didn’t speak on them. They didn’t cover their cars with bumper stickers on them, they didn’t wave flags on them, they didn’t pose for silly photos with them. (I’ll excuse a personal exemption: when I was a kid, relatives in Greece once posed me in an Evzone Greek soldier costume with my uncle’s shotgun. I could barely lift it.)

Today there is a need in gun culture that speaks of deep insecurities among a certain type of American citizen. The gun owners I knew – cops, veterans, hunters, sportsmen – owned guns as part of their lives, sometimes as tools, sometimes for recreation. The ownership of the weapons was not the central and determining feature of their life.

Don’t take my word for it that things have changed. Here’s Ryan Busse, a former executive of a gun company who has now taken on his former industry, talking about the day someone showed up at a hunting party with an AR-15:

The unspoken rules of decency have been enforced by the leaders of the firearms industry … I’ve seen how it worked many times, including one occasion when a young writer took his AR-15 to a hunting event that I was hosting in 2004. The senior figures responded immediately. “It’s not the kind of thing we want to promote,” they said. The newcomer was ashamed to lock up the gun for the rest of the event.

This kind of affirmation of cultural norms can be far more powerful than any law, and I suspect gun culture extremists know this. They defend expressions of this type of social disapproval by being aggressive and performative, challenging anyone to criticize them for feeling the need to be armed while buying milk and eggs at the supermarket.

I have always entrusted the weapons to my fellow citizens. Now the most vocal advocates of unlimited gun possession are men sitting in their cars in sunglasses and baseball caps, recording themselves dumping wild rants into their phones about their rights, conspiracies and socialism.

The Supreme Court has now stated that all of these guys can be the handsome ranger with the Big Iron alongside. You may be angry with the court for promoting and allowing this oddity, but it’s not the court’s fault. As usual, it is our fault, as voters and citizens, for tolerating a culture that is endangering our American citizens instead of insisting that we all exercise our constitutional rights as responsible adults.


Today’s news

  1. The Supreme Court today issued four rulings, including one on a North Carolina voter ID card law, a ruling in favor of a death row inmate trying to die by shooting and broader expansion of gun rights in a decade.
  2. Germany has activated the second phase of its three-phase gas emergency program following the cut in Russian supply through the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline.
  3. Today, European leaders have granted Ukraine candidate status for EU membership, a process that typically takes years.


Evening reading


How reality dating shows racial tension

Story by Hannah Giorgis

In the first season of Netflix’s hit reality show Love is blind, Lauren Speed ​​visits the Atlanta home of her new boyfriend, Cameron Hamilton. The house is airy and bright, and Lauren and Cameron, fingers intertwined, wander the rooms imagining the life they could have there together. But behind the scenes, that day was less dreamy than it seemed.

Read the full article.

More from The Atlantic

Cultural break

Disney / Pixar

Laws. The world as we knew it shows how Greek mythology can help us make sense of the climate crisis.

Or try another recommendation from our list of books that reveal our anxieties about a warming planet.

Wade. You could take Light yearthe “perfectly working science fiction tale” e Toy Story history of the origins, in theaters. But maybe you should review Minority relationship instead — Steven Spielberg’s prescient 2002 thriller is more chilling than ever (and widely available on streaming services).

Listens. The new sensual album Bad season marks a watershed in the career of ambitious singer Perfume Genius.

Play our daily crossword puzzle.

The past is the future: The song “Big Iron” was a hit in the early 1960s, but it became an Internet meme thanks to Fallout New Vegas, the voice of 2010 in one of the biggest sci-fi video game franchises. all time, the Fallout series. If you are inclined to play video games, New Vegas it’s a kitschy sci-fi experience with some great early music and, I’m not joking, a cast that includes Wayne Newton. Apparently, a TV series is in the works, so get started!

– Tom

Katherine Hu contributed to this newsletter.