The title of this post refers not to guns or to hunting or to people who enjoy guns and hunting, but to the word culture. And the focus is not on politics but on the psychology of language.
I grew up in the middle of Iowa in the late fifties and sixties, and we hunted. For ducks, for pheasants, with shotguns and rifles. Every boy in the neighborhood owned a BB gun. Hunting can be a rich and rewarding activity, placing the hunter in nature and instilling an appreciation of the cycles of life.
But when politicians and other celebrities speak glowingly of the “gun culture,” it’s usually not about hunting. It’s in defense of people who collect guns. A lot of guns.
Again, this post is not against gun collectors. Anyone who has a hobby that involves collecting things knows the satisfactions of gathering and organizing and taking care of the collected items. But we need to recognize it as just that, a hobby. When I was young, collecting stamps and collecting coins were popular activities. We even used the proper names for people who did such things. Philately, sounding vaguely lewd, referred to collecting stamps. A stamp collector was a philatelist; a coin collector a numismatist.