Big oil and gas’ respect for climate change, the food industry's concern for obesity, the gun industry's care for children’s and other’s lives, the health industry’s high costs, the defense industry’s selfish share of the budget with occasional unjustified wars, monopolies, and oligopolies proliferating everywhere – all are evidence of an American plutocracy. Over the last decades, this business elite has been very successful. They have influenced politicians and politics through PACS and super-PACS and hoarded wealth and income to unheard-of levels. “US income inequality is worsening, as the earnings of the top 1% nearly doubled from 7.3% in 1979 to 13.2% in 2019, while over the same time period the average annual wages for the bottom 90% have stayed within the $30,000 range, increasing from $30,880 to $38,923, representing 69.8% of total earnings in 1979 and 60.9% in 2019 respectively. The earnings of the top 0.1% surged from $648,725 in 1979 to nearly $2.9 million in 2019, an increase of 345%.”1

The economic elite is very powerful, caring for themselves and making money. It is not surprising that the US firearms industry is any different. A comparison of gun ownership and gun homicides for selected developed countries highlights the exceptionality of the US situation.

Mass shootings in Canada, Australia, and the UK have prompted those governments to pass tighter gun laws. None of the foreign countries allow civilian ownership of assault weapons and ammunition. Gun rights proponents say that the data does not prove causality, but it certainly presents strong evidence of a relationship. “The US with less than five percent of the world’s population has 46 percent of the world’s civilian-owned guns.”2 The tragedy is that there were 45,222 gun homicides in the US in 2020. The extremely high US ownership of guns, 20.5% more guns than the entire population, cannot be explained only by a zealous firearms industry.

For instance, most gun owners are male, and men committed 94% of the 240 mass shootings (four or more killed) from 2009 to 2020 in which the shooter's gender could be confirmed.3 “Men commit the vast majority of gun violence in the US. According to FBI data from 2017, men were responsible for 88.1% of all homicides, and firearms were used in 72.6% of homicides. Women in the US have the same ability as men to acquire, use, and kill with guns — but they do not. This disparity can partially be explained by how guns have been marketed toward men, but it also requires a broader analysis of gender. How are masculinity and gun ownership linked? How are masculinity and gun violence linked? And how might they be delinked?”4

I believe two distinct male roles are in play here: the warrior and the provider.

In the warrior role, violence is an integral part of being a warrior. Naturally, the violence is usually justified by some redeeming characteristic, such as bringing justice to himself or his people. The male is presented, particularly in many movies and TV serials, as being justifiably violent, frequently with guns. He may even be evil, without the usual justification, or a female may take on a masculine role and body, becoming ferocious. Might makes right. In their renowned study, Bleakley and her colleagues found that 90% of the top-grossing movies over a 25-year period contained at least one violent main character.5 Google advises that 57% of TV programs contain violence and that perpetrators of violent acts go unpunished 73% of the time. Violence is masculine, and it wins most of the time. The viewers evidently get satisfaction from viewing this content. We can hope they imagine acts of aggression and violence that they dare not perform in real life. Still, this all-encompassing backdrop of aggression (even in video games) may play an enabling role in the psychology of being male.

This violent role has even a religious justification in the myth of the good guy with the gun. Occasionally guns are necessary for God's work. For many Evangelistic Americans, Jesus, guns, and the Constitution (2nd Amendment) are united. America made exemplars of pastors traveling in the West with Bibles and six-shooters. "It is important to understand that for the manufacturer of the Uvalde killer’s rifle and many others in the business, selling weapons is at once a patriotic and a religious act... For many of our fellow citizens don't just own guns, they believe in them. They believe the stories told about gun’s power, their necessity, their righteousness."6 Notwithstanding being discredited by data showing that firearms are more likely to injure the owners or their families than safeguard them, the protection offered by "good guys with guns" is still strong among some of the evangelistic groups.

America is an individualistic society with the belief in the self-made man. For many, particularly in the lower 50% of earners in the US, success may not appear to be adequately rewarded. Many of these males are frustrated and potentially angry. Places with high-income inequality have a higher incidence of crime, and people living in poorer communities are exposed to more crimes.

It is my hypothesis that the male role of a warrior must be weakened for a long-term decrease in male violence. This is an uphill battle. It has been suggested that giving females more control of the media industry would help.6 In the international comparison of values, females are more caring and cooperative than males.

In many ways, the male role of the provider is the alternative to the warrior. The provider can give protection, with or without guns. The role model is based upon the (non-violent) provision of well-being for himself and his relatives.

On 23rd June 2022, the Supreme Court ruled that Americans have the right to arm themselves in public, canceling a New York law that placed strict limits on carrying guns outside the home. This will create a problem for other states that have similar limitations.

On 25th June 2022, President Biden signed a bipartisan gun bill into law after decades of stalemate. This Bipartisan Safer Communities Act will enhance background checks for gun buyers between 18 and 21 years old, incentivize states to enact "red flag" laws that enable firearms to be temporarily confiscated from persons deemed dangerous, and provide hundreds of millions of dollars for mental health and school safety. It also includes dating partners in a federal law prohibiting domestic abusers from purchasing guns. Gun violence researchers tend to favor the law because the “red flag” provision has been studied and found to be effective.7 The law is evidence-based and will save lives.

These important events do not address the long-term issue of the masculine role models. Maybe males will get tired of the warrior and violence. After a while, it is very repetitive and does not solve any of their key problems. Each one of us can promote the awareness of the uselessness of violence in solving problems, and we can talk to family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. We can finance ads that mock guns and violent behaviors. Laughing away violence and guns may improve the well-being of all.


1 Marcellus, S., (2020). "Wage inequality gets worse: Bottom 90% stuck in $30,000 range as top 0.1% take home way more than $1 million on average," Yahoo! Finance, December 3.
2 Masters, Johnathan, (2022), US Gun Policy: Global Comparisons, Council on Foreign Affairs, June 10.
3 Shapiro, E., (2021, “Guys and guns: Why men are behind the vast majority of America's gun violence,” ABC News, November 3.
4 Rood, C., (2020), “Addressing Gun Violence by Reimagining Masculinity and Protection," The Gender Policy Report, University of Minnesota, September 22.
5 CBS News, (2013), Violence in movies prevalent whether its PG-13, R film: Study, December 8.
6 Mebane, W., (2021), Can women curb violence in entertainment?, Wall Street International Magazine, April 10.
7 Stolberg, S. G., (2022) For Gun Violence Researchers, Bipartisan Bill Is a ‘Glass Half Full', The New York Times, June 26.