A Taxonomy of Gun-Humpers

I know many people who own guns and are responsible gun owners. Their reasons for owning guns are varied—some are plinkers, some are hunters, others are hobbyists. One guy has a magnificent collection of muzzleloader rifles, inherited from his father and proudly displayed. Other guys don’t feel safe without at least one gun in the home for self-protection, no matter what the statistics say about guns increasing the probability of people under their roofs falling victim to gun-related violence. Whatever……it’s about feeling safer, not being safer.

Heck, maybe I own a gun or two—I’m not saying. I’d never post anything affirming that one way or the other. Ironically, thieves have been known to target the houses of dudes who boast about their gun collections, specifically to steal the guns.

But let’s get to the point: Some gun owners are bat-shit crazy—people for whom guns aren’t mechanical objects, but a way of life. Here, in no particular order, is an incomplete taxonomy of the people I refer to as gun-humpers. It’s an incomplete list because there are probably taxa that are yet to be discovered and described by science.

The Libertarian Gun Fetishist (Gunfornicatus horderius)

For this guy, it’s all about freedoms. Broadly, the God-given right to do whatever you want, even if that’s with little respect to the consequences. Narrowly, the freedom to hunt, target shoot, and to spend more than half of your family’s disposable income on a raging gun fetish. The toll of gun-related deaths in America is just the price we must pay for the freedom to do what we want, never mind the ongoing carnage. The cost-benefit ratio easily favors lax gun control, because freedom is the big fat thumb on the side of the pan scale that’s weighing guns. It may be a somewhat nihilistic philosophy, but unlike some of the positions held by other types, at least the internal logic is consistent—it’s a simple but rational worldview: Me and my guns come first.

Quote: “Man, that bump-stock the Vegas shooter used? I gotta pick me up one of those.”

The Damaged Goods (Gunfornicatus askeerdei)

This guy is afraid—deeply traumatized. Something awful—maybe a succession of awful events—happened to him in his youth, and he’s never recovered. He’s scared, all day, every day. Afraid of his domineering and cruel late father, afraid of the schoolyard bullies who tormented him, afraid of the savage swarthy people in the inner city, afraid of wild animals in the woods, afraid of his own shadow. He believes in his core that if he owns a bunch of guns, he can protect himself from the bullies and other bad people. He constantly fantasizes about the day that some bad guy tries to victimize him again and he gets to show the bad guy who’s in charge. Damaged Goods is so fearful of The Bad Guy that he often leaves guns unsecured, for quick access……where his kids can get ahold of them. The outcome is often tragic.

Quote: “It’s all about self-protection. You have to be willing and able to protect yourself and your family with lethal force, or you’re not a real man.”

The Sociopathic Jackass (Gunfornicatus analostium)

This guy operates on the lowest of moral planes: Might makes right. He sees the basic currency of human interactions as people forcing their will on others. He despises the modern world, and fantasized about the breakdown of civilization, when he will—at long last—come unleashed to be A Man in Full. He’s the anonymous online commenter whose every comment reflects hatred and anger. Often a bitter loser, his social status peaked in junior high or high school, and he’s probably the bully who helped create the Damaged Goods guy above. If he cracks, he decides that killing strangers in the double-digits lets everyone know how badly he’s been aggrieved, often concluding with suicide or a shootout with the police. Or he’s the guy who kills his wife and kids before he drives into the woods to off himself. He usually lets the family dog live—the subservient dog knows who’s the alpha male. The dog “gets” him.

Quote: “You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? Then who the hell else are you talkin’ to? You talkin’ to me? I’m the only one here. Who the f*** do you think you’re talking to?”

The Mouth-Breather (Gunfornicatus dumbassei)

This guy is immortalized in the song “Redneck Rampage” by Mojo Nixon and the Toadliquors. “They got great big guns, little bitty brains…” Guns are toys. They make loud noises, they scare the crap out of city people, you can blast holes in road signs with them, and you can kill wild critters just for the hell of it—ain’t nothin’ funner than shootin’ armadillos out on Interstate 10. Mouth-Breather uncritically believes every single piece of misinformation propaganda issued by the NRA, which he encounters almost exclusively in the form of memes that he reposts faithfully. His literacy level never advanced beyond second grade—he’s apt to post a picture of his new gun on social media with the caption, “My new riffle. Any u antigun qeers want a peace?” He’s so jarringly stupid that encountering him online renders you certain that we are a failed, doomed species.

Quote: “Chicago got the strictest gun laws in ‘Murica, but a million people git kill’t there wit guns ever year. Tha’s proof gun control don’t work. ‘Course, they’s all black, too.”

The Delusional Patriot (Gunfornicatus delusium)

This guy believes that the 2nd Amendment is a hedge against tyranny, which he tends to define as all the laws that he doesn’t like. Of all the gun-humpers, his understanding of the 2nd Amendment is closest to its original intent. However, whereas the Founders might have viewed an armed and well-regulated citizen-militia as a hedge against tyranny, foreign and domestic, the Delusional Patriot isn’t much concerned with outside tyrants, or with that “well-regulated” malarkey. He views individual patriots like himself as the primary hedge against home-grown oppressors. This appears at first blush to be sound reasoning—an authoritarian thug could never take over the United States by force because there are far too many armed citizens.

The flaw in the theory is that huge numbers of Delusional Patriots are rabid political authoritarians who support every attempted tyrannical act by our current POTUS and his like. They aren’t too keen on the 1st Amendment, either—their law-and-order authoritarianism is often mated to a believe that this nation was founded on a certain religion, and the laws of that particular religion must be honored and enforced by the government. Delusional Patriot often claims to lean libertarian, but he’s anti-libertarian to the core—he pines for security and conformity, not freedom.

Quotes: “Build the wall.”


“You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.”

I’ll conclude by repeating: This is a taxonomy of genus gun-humper, a subset of the larger family of gun owners. It’s an incomplete taxonomy, but every taxonomy needs to start somewhere. If you’re aware of a taxon I’ve left out, feed me your knowledge in the comments. I foresee a publication in a flagship academic journal in my future.

Steve Towers

Steve Towers is co-owner of a local environmental consultancy. After obtaining his Ph.D. from UC Davis and dabbling as a UCD lecturer, he took a salary job with a Sacramento environmental firm. Sitting in stop-and-go traffic on Highway 50 one afternoon, he reckoned that he was receiving 80 hours of paid vacation per year and spending 520 hours per year commuting to and from work. He and his wife Elise sold their house and moved to Redding three months later, and have been here for more than 20 years. His hobbies include travel, racquet sports, taking the dogs on hikes, and stirring pots. He can be reached at towers.steven@gmail.com

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