Guns are a fetish object, a social relation crystallized into an object you can hold in your hand. Holding a gun makes me a man. Holding a gun makes me Clint Eastwood. Holding a gun makes me a hunter. Holding a gun makes me an American, a patriot. Holding a gun makes me a white man who can kill black people. And my desire for all of those things gives the gun that kind of power. My fear makes me need a gun, my desire makes me want it.
“Gun control” is also a fetish object. That’s why so many of us reached for it as soon as we heard about what had happened. We were scared, and it’s reassuring to hold it in our mouths. Doesn’t make it right or wrong; it has nothing to do with that. And if I could wave my wand and make them all disappear, I would; when there’s a candidate that wants to ban them, or tax them out of existence, I’ll vote for her. But if you’re with me on that, you probably already were too. And as Matthew Cheney pointed out—the last time this happened—gun control is a kind of utopianism, the idea that if we got rid of the objects themselves, the desire for them, the need for them, and the culture that is built around them and makes them necessary, that all of that would go away."