Law and Critique 26 (2):173-187 (2015)

Chad Kautzer
Lehigh University
Beliefs once limited to the extremes of the North American gun culture have become mainstream, while the US Supreme Court’s ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller and a spate of right-to-carry laws have contributed to the proliferation of guns in public life. These changes in political discourses, legislative agendas, and social practices are indicative of an emergent and pernicious form of subjectivity, which is here defined as self-defensive. Such subjectivity is characterized by a pathological identification with the right of self-defense, which undermines the social conditions of individual freedom and renders subjects unable to comprehend the function of abstract rights within an informal normative order. Practically speaking, this raced and gendered subjectivity relies on extra-legal relations of domination for its reproduction. The rapid expansion of gun rights and the recent loosening of restrictions on self-defensive violence are argued to be responses to a perceived threat to these identity-constituting relations, rather than to the threat of violent crime, which has long been on the decline
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DOI 10.1007/s10978-015-9156-x
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