Jost and Gun Laws and Policy

In his article, Jost contends that conservatives, “most of all [venerate] order and authority.” (citing Erikson, Luttbeg, & Tedin, 1988, p. 75, italics added) At first glance, this contention seems difficult to reconcile with what are generally though of as conservative opinions on gun control laws. After all, if conservatives value order and authority, then why would they not support a government with more authority to control guns, thus being better able to impose order.

As I considered the matter further, I realized that Jost’s theory may not have as much trouble with this fact as it may seem. Perhaps Jost would contend that the conservative desire to live without guns control laws is motivated authority, such as the belief that the right to own a gun, as one Arizona Republican State Senator put it, is “god-given.” Or, maybe Jost would contend that without being able to own guns, conservatives feel that they would lose a sense that they could personally impose order on the world. Finally, I thought Jost may contend that owning a gun would make conservatives feel more comfortable that they could maintain their “rigid and closed-minded” ideology as society changes (i.e. gun ownership makes one feel more able to resist things in general or rebel against society).

Despite these responses, I’m not convinced that conservative views on guns can be neatly explained by Jost’s theory. The broader question that I believe conservatives position on guns control laws raises is how do Jost’s notions of psychology and ideology explain the libertarian ideas that exist in the heads of “conservatives”? Can Jost really provide an explanation, or has he greatly oversimplified the political landscape and ideology in general?

Two Views of Gun Control?



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