Gun enthusiast or Gun nut is an American colloquial term that describes firearms "hobbyists" who are very involved with the gun culture. However, firearms and weapons are perceived differently based on political ideals, and therefore the intention of those using the term it will have different connotations.
Positive Conservative Pro Second Amendment Perception
To conservatives, "gun nuts" and being a firearms enthusiast is a positive quality reflecting self-reliance and the maxim that "a right not used is a right lost." Being a gun enthusiast is an admirable trait to these above types of people, since the unalienable rights of the Second Amendment act as the primary deterrence against big government Nanny state-Police state tyranny. Thus the "gun nut" slogan of Molon labe laconically represents that deterrence.
When the Japanese forces plotted their attack on Pearl Harbor they first discussed attacks on the mainland of the United States. As Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto is said to have replied when asked about invading the U.S. mainland, "There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass." On April 13, 1924 at the rank of captain, Yamamoto was part of the Japanese delegation visiting the U.S. Naval War College. As history shows, they didn't attack the mainland of The United States, but rather attacked Pearl Harbor instead.
Thus most gun owners embrace the term "gun nut" affectionately. This is evidenced by many popular gun blogs, gun podcasts, forums and outdoors magazines such as Field and Stream using the term positively. Field and Stream has a column called "The Gun Nut".
In truth, most gun owners are respectable, responsible people, who seem on different than any other people. However, there are a small number of people who do act much as fiction portrays. This continues to fuel the fire against the right to have and bear arms.
Negative Liberal Gun Control - Anti-Rights / Anti Second Amendment Perspective
To liberals, homeland security officials, or anti-terrorism strategists, "gun nut" is an insult. They regard the term as a pejorative stereotype hurled at gun owners by gun control activists as a way of suggesting that they exhibit abnormal behavior, are fanatical, or even are a threat to the safety of others. While the United States faced a possible armed invasion by a foreign army during World War II (as noted above), today America faces attacks such as San Bernadino, California or Sandy Hook, Connecticut. "Gun nut" refers to people who are resisting efforts to keep guns out of the hands of terrorist or mentally ill people.
The idea of a "gun nut" has been painted in a variety of different ways for many years in the United States. News reports push this idea whenever possible, and movies, TV shows, and books often promote this idea as well. Not only are characters portrayed this way, but others' responses are staged to cast a negative light on such people. The picture which is fed to the American people is usually that of some foolish, grouchy (often old) man who is obsessed with guns. He will often be shown to threaten others, break the law frequently and carelessly, and be generally reckless. They will often be shown shooting at law enforcement officers or other people for no good reason. They are also shown going on rants of blended truth and extreme exaggeration to discredit both portions of the rant in the viewers' eyes. Most fictional "gun nuts" are shown as southern "rednecks."
- Hoplophobia - Hoplophobe: Gun control advocates "irrational aversion to firearms, as opposed to justified apprehension about those who may wield them."
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- Massad Ayoob, "Armed citizens: the deterrent factor", Backwoods Home Magazine, Website Exclusive January/February, 2001. http://www.backwoodshome.com/articles2/ayoob0109.html Accessed December 28, 2014
- http://www.thehighroad.org/archive/index.php/t-202941.html and http://www.thehighroad.org/archive/index.php/t-248312.html Yamamoto quote - authentic? Accessed December 28, 2014
- 1920–1929. Chronology of Courses and Significant Events. U.S. Naval War College.
- Christian News (a Lutheran journal published in New Haven, Missouri) published on 4 February 2002 the following: "In 1960, Robert Menard was a commander aboard the USS Constellation when he was part of a meeting between United States Navy personnel and their counterparts in the Japanese Defense Forces. Fifteen years had passed since VJ Day, most of those at the meeting were WWII veterans, and men who had fought each other to the death at sea were now comrades in battle who could confide in each other. Someone at the table asked a Japanese admiral why, with the Pacific Fleet devastated at Pearl Harbor and the mainland U.S. forces in what Japan had to know was a pathetic state of unpreparedness, Japan had not simply invaded the West Coast. Commander Menard would never forget the crafty look on the Japanese commander's face as he frankly answered the question. 'You are right,' he told the Americans. 'We did indeed know much about your preparedness. We knew that probably every second home in your country contained firearms. We knew that your country actually had state championships for private citizens shooting military rifles. We were not fools to set foot in such quicksand.'"
- The Gun Nut blog at Field & Stream Accessed December 28, 2014
- "Shoot-out Confirms Foreign View of America as 'Gun Nut' Country" by T.R. Reid, The Buffalo News, July 26, 1998
- "Massacres Fail to Sway Gun Nuts and their Lobbyists" November 7, 1991, Press-Telegram (Long Beach, California)
- "Small steps on gun control" Los Angeles Times, June 17, 2007
- "Gun nut fired over pics" by Jamie Pyatt, The Sun (UK)
- "'Terror in Capitol' No Surprise to World" By T.R. Reid, Washington Post, July 26, 1998
- Cooper, Jeff (1990). To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth. Boulder, Colorado: Paladin Press. pp. 16–19.