TPM had a post entitled “Tactical Reality” about the Connecticut mass murders that has had me thinking for the last couple of days. It refers to the subculture with these sort of “Red Dawn” fantasies where they will some day, soon likely, be called upon to heroically fight off the faceless terror with their weapons.
Apparently this subculture likes to use the adjective “tactical” a lot: “tactical” weapons, “tactical” scenarios, “tactical applications.” There is a tendency to deck out their weapons in “matte-black finish, laser site, flashlight mount, and other “tactical” accoutrements.”
The contributor, familiar with gun culture over recent decades, tells us that the prominence of this subculture in the overall gun culture is relatively new.
Most of the men and children (of both sexes) I met were interested in hunting, too. Almost exclusively, they used traditional hunting rifles: bolt-actions, mostly, but also a smattering of pump-action, lever-action, and (thanks primarily to Browning) semi-automatic hunting rifles. They talked about gun ownership primarily as a function of hunting; the idea of “self-defense,” while always an operative concern, never seemed to be of paramount importance. It was a factor in gun ownership – and for some sizeable minority of gun owners, it was of outsized (or of decisive) importance – but it wasn’t the factor.
They’ve constructed a reality for themselves in which the threat is imminent, and it seems as if their reality is bound to spill over into ours from time to time.