The recent attention locally at the Wyoming State Legislature and nationally on the extreme behavior of some gun owners left me scratching my head and wondering about their far-out behavior. On researching the questions raised by their behavior, I found some partial answers that I want to share with you.
I found that many of these bad behaving gun owners are suffering from a compulsive obsession with the gun hoarding. One of the symptoms of compulsive-obsession disorder is obsession hoarding. In this context, the hoarding of guns explains the passions and strong feelings of some gun owners. For example, hoarders, compelled by obsessive-compulsive behavior, treat what they hoard as having the same rights as living human beings. They often believe these inanimate objects have the same value as a human life. This kind of obsession also features a preoccupation, or paranoia, that someone “out there” will harm either them or the people or things they care about. The president of the United States could be, to many of these hoarders, the threatening menace.
Some hoarders perform rituals to mitigate the anxiety that stems from their particularly obsessive thoughts. These rituals, for a gun hoarder include buying more guns. The gun hoarder feels that, by doing this, it will somehow prevent a dreaded event from happening, like “Obama is coming for their guns.” The compulsive gun hoarders know that their thoughts and behaviors are not rational, but they feel bound to comply with them to fend off feelings of panic or dread.
Compulsive gun owners are not particularly delusional in other matters in their lives, but are unable to realize which dreaded events are reasonably possible and which are not. When the representatives of the gun industry, like the NRA, declare that “Obama is coming for your guns,” it boosts gun sales to unbelievable heights. These declarations work time and again and set off a maelstrom of irrational gun sales. Because obsessive gun hoarders are unable to rationally evaluate the gun industry’s representative’s claims, they fall for this marketing ploy over and over again.
This rush to buy more guns has led to some side effects that I have personally witnessed. Gun hoarders, compelled to buy guns, have an effect on their families, financially. I know one of these hoarders who, several times over, has rushed out to buy more guns, and has filled two gun safes with his acquisitions. At the same, he jeopardized his credit rating because of late payments and repossessed vehicles. These problems were greatly exacerbated by his uncontrolled gun purchases. There have to be many families who are financially stressed because of compulsive gun buying. His problems were not helped by his hanging out with other gun hoarders who reinforced each other’s obsessions.
Reflecting on the nature of obsessive-compulsive behavior, has explained a lot of the extreme attitudes of some gun owners. By the way, I have been a gun owner all my life and possess a Wyoming concealed weapon permit.