Guns were considered a necessity in settling the American frontier during the colonial era, for they provided personal and familial protection and enabled colonists to kill game for survival. In the twenty-first century, guns remain central to popular images of the self-sufficient pioneer and mythic gunfighter, and they are an essential tool of film and television heroes. American men, in particular, are associated with guns, which they have used to assert their power and dominate people in warfare, law enforcement, and personal conflicts.

Although there is some controversy regarding the development of America's gun culture, it is generally believed that guns were essential to notions of republican manhood and an emerging national identity in Revolutionary America. The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution granted citizens “the ...

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