Breaking Down the Mental Instability of the Radical Gun Fanatic

sarah-gun-nutI had a short back and forth with a gentleman online yesterday who I would label a certifiable gun nut. Though I’m sure he just sees himself as a “proud patriotic American.”

It was clear from the start that nothing I was going to say to him would ever alter his beliefs about guns. In his mind, if someone is killed by a gun, it’s because there weren’t enough guns on the “side of the good guys.”

A belief I’ve always found completely asinine. The whole notion that the “best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” is so ridiculous that it’s amazing that millions of people buy into it.

Just think about that phrase for a moment. It essentially says that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun, is after they’ve already started shooting. Which often means after they’ve already killed someone.

So the “good guy with a gun” can only “stop a bad guy with a gun” after someone is already dead? Yeah, that’s a real “genius” philosophy.

Can someone tell me how to spot the differences between a “bad guy” and a “good guy” with a gun? Because gun nuts seem to believe we should all be able to walk around our city streets with loaded AK-47’s strapped to our back like we’re in Somalia. So, in reality, a “bad guy” is a “good guy” – until they open fire.

But the obsession with guns is what gets me. They don’t just like guns, they love them. I look on people’s Facebook profiles and many of them have pictures of them firing various guns.


Is it a special moment or something? Is it because it’s “cool”? I just don’t get it.

I’m sure it would be difficult to conduct, but I’d like to see an in-depth study done on the minds of people who are obsessed with guns and people who don’t care anything about them.

My theory is that people who obsess over guns are suffering from some kind of mental illness linked to fear and paranoia. That or some form of an inferiority complex where guns make them feel more powerful.

But that’s just my theory.

Because the obsession millions of people have with guns is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. People that seem to love an inanimate object almost as much as they do a member of their family.

There’s the old cliché joke about the “crazy cat lady” who owns ten cats. Well, why is she “crazy” or “strange” but the person with 10 semi-automatic rifles isn’t? How many guns does it take to protect someone’s family?

Or does it all go back to the absurd belief that our government “fears” an armed populace?

And can someone explain to me how it would be rational to violently overthrow a government elected by the people – as per our Constitution?

Think about that. Say tens of millions of Republicans decided to try to overthrow the government because they disagree with President Obama. How is that justified? Tens of millions of Americans elected him. Tens of millions of Americans support him. So why would it be up to “one side” to overthrow the government that the majority of Americans elected?

Wouldn’t that, in fact, be the ultimate unconstitutional act? Overthrowing an elected government?

Again, it makes absolutely no sense.

But you can’t reason with gun nuts. These people honestly believe that more guns are the answer to gun violence. That somehow if we have even more guns we’ll be safer.

Even though facts tell us a completely different story.

Now I’m not saying all gun owners fall into this category of what I feel is mental instability. I own a gun, and I know several other people who do as well. But I think there’s a huge difference between someone who owns a gun to keep at home just in case someone tries to break in and someone who believes we should have guns holstered on us at all times just in case they need to engage in a shootout while eating lunch.

Because, at least in my opinion, there’s a huge difference between sensible gun owners and these paranoid, radical gun fanatics.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments

  • Shadow8088

    Welcome to Mr Clifton’s clickbait show… It’s a near copy of one of his earlier articles with a few changes.. this time it was a guy on the interwebz instead of his gun-owning family members….. don’t worry man, it’ll get shared and forwarded thousands of times. You’ll get paid…

    • Nemisis

      Actually it recycles the image of gun master Palin sighting down the dust caps of her AR-15’s scope. Presumably hunting Russian bear.

      The article itself is a different article on the same subject.

  • Nemisis

    There are extremists to everything, and guns certainly have their share.
    The argument “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” is weak however it is also strong.
    It is weak because it takes a position that is inaccurate.
    It is not the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun.
    I’m not going to discuss the various ways. They are sometimes very brutal.
    The popular counter to this argument is based on the assumption that we as a society have evolved beyond guns. The truth is we have not. Unless the world evolves with us we can not be a gun free society.
    Even the gun free societies have gun crime. Don’t even try to argue that it is so low as to not exist because even one gun crime is still a gun crime.

    Take for instance the 2nd Amendment, penned in a time when just about everyone had a gun. It was a basic tool needed to support life and protect the home. As a society we have grown beyond the need for daily hunting. Yet we still have a need for basic home protection. Think we don’t?
    Do you leave your door unlocked when not at home or at night?
    The fact that you do is a acknowledgement that there are reasons to lock your door. Let’s assume for a moment that guns are illegal to posses.
    We still have criminals. They now know that they are not likely to encounter someone with a gun while breaking into a home. Think the number of break-ins will go up or go down? Remember, it’s illegal to own a gun. Not impossible to get one. Keep in mind the threat of violence is always more pronounced when the person who is threatening is holding a gun.
    Another aspect of the times when the 2nd was penned is that everyone was instructed in the proper use and care with a gun.

    Let’s look at the argument again. The only good way etc, etc.
    An untrained individual with a gun is the scariest thing I have ever encountered. They have no idea what they are doing and are more likely to hurt someone including themselves. Even though a good guy has good intentions even a trained person can wind up paying the price for trying to do something about the bad guy. It happens. The bad guy might have better training or just better luck.
    The weak side has so many flaws…

    Now a strong point of the argument.
    In a society where people are allowed to openly carry or concealed carry a gun it’s hard to tell who the good guy is. The guy with the ar-15 might just be someone out for a loaf a bread and stick of butter. Could be the guy is out for a carjacking and shooting spree. We don’t know till the guy starts committing crimes. Let’s take the gun away for a moment. We still have a guy we know nothing about until he starts committing crimes.
    Even our military has a ROE that says just because the guy has a gun you can’t shoot till shot at. Back to our unarmed criminal.
    Let’s assume some havoc is ensuing. How is this criminal to be stopped?
    A good guy with the ability to stop the criminal. That means not only the testicular fortitude but the physical ability to do so.
    Or we can just wait till the criminal gets tired of running amok and goes to sleep. Re-arm the individual and now we have a guy with bullets even a few let’s say just 5. We could just wait till the guy uses all his ammunition. He’s just a guy with a blunt object then. Or we could locate a good guy with a gun and just one bullet but that’s okay because he’s a really good shot.

    I’m all for not having guns. As soon as our society and culture are to the point were they are not needed. I will melt my guns down personally. Until then I won’t be one of those people wishing a good guy with a gun comes around, I’ll already be there.

    It is easier to not use a gun you have no need for than it is to use a gun you do not have and need.

    If you chose to have a gun. Learn how to use it, when to use it, and how to keep yourself and family safe from it. Knowing how to use a gun is more than learning to shoot.


      My husband with 35 years in police work (including the warden of a prison) always says, “If there are three people left on earth, one has to be a cop to prevent the other two from killing each other.”

      People are the same since the beginning of time~~we haven’t changed, we haven’t progressed, we haven’t learned.

      • Nemisis

        Thank your husband for his service and thank you for sticking by him.
        I know that it is hard for the ladies in the lives of service members and policemen and firemen to deal with the things they deal with because of what we have to do. Mostly when we do not want to have to do them.
        I think it is harder for those who stay home and lose sleep than it is for those that venture forth so that others can be safe to sleep.

        One day, all will sleep.

      • PURSUEGOD1

        Thank you for your kind comments! I’ll be certain to relay them to my husband, also.

    • DavidD

      Everybody did not have a gun.Before the civil war they were not common because they were expensive.
      Again and again you can look into the records of conflict and see not only how few guns there were put the lack of powder and shot even when they had weapons.
      A survey party was attacked by Commanches and out of sixteen people only two were armed.
      This was a typical encounter among civilans on the Texas frontier.

      • Nemisis

        Hmm…makes one wonder how the Fathers of Liberty managed to defeat an
        army. The guns they didn’t have, the powder kegs that were empty. The sheer lack of shot….
        So they must have won by telling the British that they lost the war…” King George admits defeat, doesn’t know why!”
        Put it in all the papers…”cuz once it’s in print…it must be true….Never once did the founders think of picking up a weapon lost on the field of battle. Nor raid a munitions dump…Nope not a once…If you ignore the historical texts it makes that statement very true.
        Maybe the
        Comanches just stole all their powder. A long way from home them
        natives were. Texas was poor could only afford 2 guns and one of them was just a demo model, didn’t actually work. Probably due to all the not existing at
        the time it was suffering from.

        “Just about everyone” could have had a gun…
        Guns were often gifted to others, passed down from fathers to sons. Guns were not just a weapon. They were a tool. Hunters , trappers, surveyors (except in Texas), explorers , and a great deal of other occupations rely a gun.
        On the frontiers, except Texas, just about everyone knew how to handle and shoot a gun and possessed one.
        Your life depended on it. Back then the frontiers were considered the Appalachians. While not literally everyone had a gun. Those that did not have a gun…well there might still be a few family members around. As for Texas…when you invade another country unarmed your probably going to lose.

        Funny thing about guns…They tend to be the only commodity that dollar for dollar the price has not changed. In the 1700’s they went for between $25 and $40 (well pounds) and in today’s dollars that would be about $700 to $800…About what one would pay for a good Remington or Winchester or Henry…Back then $25 was a lot of money people had to work nearly a year maybe 2 to get one.
        Let’s not forget that following the War of Independence part of the soldiers pay was his rifle.

      • DavidD

        You never address the fact that weapons were not common.The accounts pre Civil War again and again state the shortage of weapons,lead and powder among the general population before a military conflict.
        BTW,Soldiers of the Revolutionary War mostly carried muskets not rifles.
        Texans did invade Mexico before the Mexican War.The troops had to surrender because they ran out of powder.
        Myths created to bolster current political themes are not real history.

      • Nemisis

        DavidD, I never addressed the claim that you made that weapons were not common. I base my claim in the fact that there was a standing army and that army was supported by a greater number of militia comprised of civilians who among other things had guns. these guns were long rifles not muskets, a great many of the long guns were made by German gunsmiths.
        The colonial armies were equipped by raids on munitions caches of the British as well as procurement from local gunsmiths and European factories.
        Additionally every rifle lost on the field of battle was collected and redistributed. Because of the expense.
        Lead being a rare commodity…no, your going to need a better argument than just your claim.
        The British had a habit of collecting muskets from the population but thinking that long rifles were inferior would leave these. They had a smaller caliber and were more awkward to load as they were nearly ground to chin in height. also long rifles were made to order. That means they were made for a man of a specific height and arm length. Sure anyone could load and shoot them but the accuracy was greater when matched.

        If you desire to argue that it is a “Fact” that there were very few guns. you need to cite something. I am citing the entire revolutionary war. Fought with guns, won with guns.

        Stay focused. The 2nd amendment was penned a few years before the civil war. Texas was not even a thought at the time. So I really do not quite get why you keep bringing these events into the discussion, as they do not have any bearing on it.
        Texans did not invade Mexico, American separatists did. Thinking like a few Texans still think today that they could carve out their own country and live without interference from the USA. When the US Army was finally sent to save all those poor gunless separatists from the Mexican Empire, that is when things changed for Texas. My state sent more than a few people carrying guns that were ridiculously expensive and a horn of powder and handful of shot.
        Most of these guys were just ordinary joes with a sense of loyalty to Americans…The brought their long guns, their pistols, their newish breach loaders captured from the British during the revolution…

        My original statement and your rebuttal. “Almost everybody had a gun” when the 2nd was penned. Sure that’s a broad scope and probably not everbody had a gun which is why I said almost.
        The fact remains that their was a large amount of guns. Guns were given, purchased, captured and used as payment, during the time of the penning of the 2nd amendment which was during the late 1700’s not during the civil war, not during the forming of the Republic of Texas (1830’s) which would later become the single most arrogant state of the union. Texans face it your a bit full of Texas…Own it be proud of it. The Lone Star State. Standing on it’s own two feet….While standing on the backs of all the other states…Pat yourselves on the back some more.
        Sorry I digress,
        Your were going to cite some gun stats from the colonial revolution times? I cite the war.

  • Melissa

    I hope you have a trigger lock.

  • allinfun

    The ones who speak most loudly about guns and wanting more and more powerful guns usually have small sexual organs and/or are impotent. The guns make them feel like ‘real men’. Psychologically, it’s known as ‘compensation’…or ‘compensating for their shortcomings’.

  • Dale Rogers

    Gun fanatics use the “Slippery Slope” argument to prevent any gun laws, but the real “Slippery Slope” for gun lovers is from paranoia to complete insanity.

  • Charles Vincent

    “My theory is that people who obsess over guns are suffering from some kind of mental illness linked to fear and paranoia. That or some form of an inferiority complex where guns make them feel more powerful.”

    Hmm Freud postulated that fear of weapons known as hopolophobia was a sign of emotional and sexual immaturity.

  • booley

    it’s simple: fear.
    A lot of people feel they live in a dangerous world they have no control over. That includes their government. (and it’s not as if there isn’t’ a basis for this fear)
    Conservatives are especially prone to fear.
    Guns provide an easy way to have a sense of safety and power that’s personal, tangible, and without ambivalence. (contrast that with say, gun laws)
    That this won’t’ actually solve the problem, might even exacerbate it is besides the point.
    Guns make people FEEL they are in control. And thats’ all that matters.

    • Cate

      It completely boils down to fear, an inferiority complex and a gun making one feel more powerful = fear. It’s known that conservatives have a tendency to be more fearful.

  • Sandy Greer

    I’m just an ordinary person. Don’t carry – open, or concealed. But I have to take exception to this article.

    Clifton labels somebody a ‘certifiable gun nut’. Then complains that nothing
    he said could ‘alter the beliefs’ of his Opponent. Go figure. Further:

    >But the obsession with guns is what gets me. They don’t just like guns, they love them. My theory is that people who obsess over guns are suffering from some kind of mental illness linked to fear and paranoia. That or some form of an inferiority complex where guns make them feel more powerful.

    Really. Who are these ‘certifiable gun nuts’ – who ‘obsess over guns’ – and love guns, to the point of mental illness? I don’t know a single person I’d say that about. And I know plenty with guns – including myself.

    People Skills of Dr. Clifton (if indeed he is a doctor, qualified to diagnose mental illness) are sorely lacking. As are those of anybody who makes assumptions of others – assert them as fact – and denigrate those with whom they disagree.

    To say nothing about his speculation ‘tens of millions of Republicans’ lay in wait to ‘overthrow the government because they disagree with President
    Obama’. Good Lord.

    I am not surprised Clifton encounters difficulty and resistance with his Opponents. Even some of us Lefties have trouble swallowing his mischaracterizations of ordinary people like me.

    • suburbancuurmudgeon

      Sorry to burst your bubble, but I know certifiable gun nuts. One described chambering a round into his hunting rifle as “orgasmic.” Another one sees terrorists everywhere. These people exist and I think they are certifiable,

      • Sandy Greer

        Maybe you should invite your ‘certifiable gun nut’ acquaintances to participate in this thread. So we can all meet them. Liven things up a little on a slow weekend.

        Seeing terrorists everywhere just might be certifiable. Why I had to laugh when Clifton postulated ‘tens of millions of Republicans’ lay in wait to ‘overthrow the government because
        they disagree with President Obama’. I wondered if he was overdosing on Hyperbolic Paranoia again.

        ^^^Think I’d rather have an orgasm than join him in his fears. Could just the ‘bubble’ I live in, though.

  • JJ

    As an avid competition shooter, I have multiple guns for different purposes. None are for defense. Having a gun for defense is more likely to arm a burgler. People with multiple guns tend to have better security systems than the casual gun owner. However, I do think open carry is asking for trouble and law enforcement should be allowed to treat anyone on the street with a gun as hostile.

    • Frank LaDonna

      should be allowed to treat anyone on the street with a gun as a possiable shooter.

      • Jim Bean

        You’re advocating the same type of stereotyping that produces racism, in other words? The Left never ceases to astound.

      • Frank LaDonna

        picture this: the police officer is called to a shooting scene, and on arrival
        he is confronted with two opposite groups, or individuals, all holding guns.
        Quickly now who are the good guys and who are the bad guys.

        It’s only logical that anyone holding a gun is a possible shooter, and treated
        as such for their own safety.

        maybe all the good guys could wear white hats……..

      • Jim Bean

        The officer says, “everyone lay down your weapons”. The ones who don’t are the bad guys.

      • Frank LaDonna

        Though your logic is sound…… until the police control the scene all are
        suspect. IMO…….. a gunnut, good guy or not, isn’t dropping his weapon not
        even for the police. He see’s himself as above that.

      • Jim Bean

        You’ve concluded all ‘gun nuts’ are lawless people who will defy law enforcement officers. I doubt that intuitively, and there is no evidence to support it.

      • Frank LaDonna

        I do…… the extreme “gunnut” would rather die then let go of his controlling
        weapon. He would feel weak and helpless……. might even hyperventilate.

        It’s his mind set. he sees no fall back point. He is consumed by his gun culture.
        No evidence needed, just talk to them.
        They are the loose canon on deck.

      • Jim Bean

        You are hoplophobic. If you were correct (that ‘they are the loose canon on deck’), our mass murderers and gang assassins would mostly be ‘gun nuts.’

      • Frank LaDonna

        What’s hoplophobic? Is that a fear of spelling?

        Interisting theory, about loose canons being murderers, and assassins.. but they have a motive. That being that they are “murderers, and assassins” where as the “gunnut” is just a radical gun Fanatic.

      • Jim Bean

        hoplophobia (uncountable)
        (pejorative, rare) The fear of guns.  [quotations ▼]

        1976: United States Congress’s House Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Crime, Firearms Legislation: Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Crime of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, Ninety-fourth Congress, First Session, part 7, page unknown (United States Government Printing Office)
        Gun control laws are proposed to control three basic areas: Crime, accidental shootings and to calm those suffering from hoplophobia — these people generally align themselves with the first two so I won’t even consider that category.
        1998, Bob Knauer, in alt.nuke.europe, soc.culture.scottish, talk.politics.guns, uk.politics.crime, and uk.politics.misc [1]
        One of the telltale characteristics of hoplophobia is terminal stupidity. That’s because hoplophobia is a mental illness.
        1999, Barry B Wood, in dfw.general [2]
        You’ll be happy to learn that “hoplophobia” (irrational fear of weapons) has been recognized as an illness by the AMA, is treatable, and is now covered by most HMOs. Get thee to a psychiatrist!
        2000, Frank Zember, in, misc.survivalism, talk.politics.guns, and [3]
        Not exactly, subscribing to the hoplophobia of the left wing makes you a complete idiot.
        Usage notes[edit]
        Cooper coined the term to describe what he termed “mental disturbance characterized by irrational aversion to weapons”. The word is not usually used in a true medical sense.

      • Dion Draper

        the nra`s favorite nut charlston heston said proudly and feebly sounding i might add “when they pry it from my cold dead hands”.

      • Jim Bean

        He believed in that individual liberty thing.

      • Nemisis

        smart bad guy puts his weapon down…now what?

      • Jim Bean

        Now he gets put in cuffs.

      • Nemisis

        Well…doesn’t he look like all the good guys who put down their guns?

      • Jim Bean

        If that’s the case, they all get put in cuffs and it gets sorted out later.

      • Nemisis

        Busy day at the farm then…..But that is what would happen.

      • Cate

        Your side never ceases to astound with their simplistic thinking. The world isn’t black and white.

      • Chip Fetrow

        Should be allowed to treat any black person as a criminal! Hey, it makes just as much sense, and is just as offensive. People with guns and those with dark skin are yo be feared. You are asses!

  • suburbancuurmudgeon

    They feel compelled to overthrow Obama because he wasn’t “legitimately” elected. They figure the only way he could have been elected TWICE was giving freebies to people for votes and massive voter fraud, neither of which is true.

    Anyone remember that school employee in Georgia who talked a kid out of shooting people without firing a shot?

  • Matthew Reece

    It is rational to violently overthrow a government because governments are institutions that survive by initiatory violence, which makes fighting against them an act of self-defense. What is not rational is to replace the overthrown government with another government, as most of the aforementioned “gun nuts” want to do, and as previous violent revolutions throughout history have done. This would be a terrible waste of blood. If force is to be used against the state, it must be for the purpose of ending statism once and for all.

  • Some Guy

    I vote democrat and still believe in owning guns, have you watched the news lately? What our federal and state governments do is not in the interest of protecting our safety. If they were concerned with our safety they would better screen and train police officers to not use excessive force and they wouldn’t sell military equipment to them either. Yes I believe automatic weapons and those weapons designed for military use shouldn’t be available to the general public, but they shouldn’t be provided to police either. I also believe that there is value in preserving our second amendment rights and protecting ourselves against a state that is more concerned in power of government than rule of law and protection of it’s people.

  • Scott Amundsen

    The bigger the gun the smaller the penis. I don’t know how to explain the women.

    • Cate

      Brain, penis – potato po-tah-to.

      • Scott Amundsen


  • John

    Personally, I believe that this article is very flawed. It is flawed because the author makes a number of assumptions that I do not believe are valid. I am always amazed at the arguments people have against guns and gun owners when it is obvious (from their arguments) that they have no experience with either. The one point I want to make has to do with “gun free zones”. Do you realize that most mass murders are comitted in gun free zones? Perhaps this is because the perpetrator realizes he will have no resistance here, he is free to do his dirty work because there is no good guy with a gun to stop him.

  • Jim Bean

    When an author uses an illustration of Sarah Palin to support an article about gun ‘nuts’, you know said author is not speaking from a position of objectivity or pragmatism and you know that author does not have his own attitudes in control well enough to do a credible job of assessing others.

  • DavidD

    I have a brother who is a bully and a sadist and he is a gun nut.Always has to be packing some kind a heat so he won’t miss an opportunity to blow someone away.
    Some people are just damm mean and want to hurt people.That’s all the connection I need to know when it comes to him.

  • John Doeman

    those who oppose honest people carrying guns are something-other-than-American.

  • JoeBS

    Extreme love of guns involves a great deal of fantasy. I think it goes back to movies like Red Dawn and is in some ways akin to a love of zombie flicks. It’s a form of escapism and empowerment to believe that at some point, everything will break down, freeing you from the hard work of living in society, by society’s conventions and having to work hard to eke out a living. Extreme gun lovers have a dream that when everything falls to hell, they will become powerful and be able to live out the fantasy of holding real power between their leg…. oops, I mean, in their hands. In time, as happens whenever any of us daydreams just a little too long, this “ideal” sneaks into other aspects of their thinking, until areas of their lives best left without thoughts of guns and hopes for violence, become invaded by same. In short, it becomes hard for them to form an identity without the rush of pleasure they get from feeling powerful about their guns. I think, like other fantasists, most will never actually act on these things when the chips are down – it’s mostly just talk and posturing. The scary difference is that, where somebody who gets involved heavily in the Lord of the Rings, or Dungeons & Dragons, or some other form of fantasy generally lacks the tools to act out anything more treacherous than attending a convention in full regalia, or starting an online fight over Elves-versus-Jedi, people with guns actually have a tool for mass destruction if they ever feel the need to act out.