‘I Don’t Dial 911’
In what sense does American pro-gun sentiment constitute a ‘politics’? I use in-depth interviews with 60 male gun carriers to propose that pro-gun politics not only involve claims to the state, but also centre on particular understandings about the proper role of the state, particularly public law enforcement. I argue that, within the contemporary US context of neo-liberalism (particularly the War on Crime), guns are a complex response to police failure amid anxieties regarding crime and insecurity. Specifically, guns serve as political tools used to critique the state’s power to police. Most of the time, gun advocates articulate guns as a response to the police’s inability to protect citizens; however, they sometimes also describe guns as a response to the police’s propensity to violate. I identify two sets of pro-gun, police-suspicious beliefs that emerge along racialized, masculine lines, which I denote ‘neo-liberal gun politics’ and ‘neo-radical gun politics’. I explain these political beliefs as responses to the state’s power to police by showing how neo-liberal ideology alongside the War on Crime has shaped American perceptions of public law enforcement.