Fun and Fascination, Horror and Disgust, Panic and Fear: Which Emotions Are Associated With the Use of Firearms?

International conference on gun culture research

August 18, 2014

Trigger-happiness or disgust at gun nuts? What kinds of emotions are connected with firearms? Do those feelings vary according to country and culture, or are they universal? Do we respond today with different feelings to those that were felt in the past, or is the emotional coding of weapon use a historical constant? The relationship between feelings and firearms, not researched up until this point, will be discussed by more than 20 academics from the 26th to the 28th of August at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development.

Those who carry weapons often talk of shooting in terms of fascination. Victims of armed violence and their families have to deal with powerlessness, fear, despair and grief. Even the discourse on gun laws is driven by emotional language; by talk of freedom, security and responsibility. Although the regulation of firearms and their use without emotions are inconceivable, research has up until now not been concerned with the question of feelings, nor has it ventured a global comparison of gun cultures, the varying international attitudes towards firearms or their influence on the legal system in different countries.

In order to fill this gap, the Max Planck Institute for Human Development (MPIB) presents the conference “Comparing Civil Gun Cultures: Do Emotions Make The Difference?” from the 26th to the 28th of August 2014, making available for the first time both new research on the understanding of weapons cultures and comparative studies on weapons cultures in a global context.

“We hope that by focusing on emotions, we can develop essential insights on how emotions impact on the use of firearms,” said Dagmar Ellerbrock, head of the Minerva Research Group “Emotions, Violence and Peace” at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development. Over the course of three days, proven specialists in gun culture and experts in the study of emotions will discuss which emotional differences and which similarities are to be found in gun cultures such as those of the USA, Canada, Germany, Finland and Israel. Crucially, much of this knowledge forms the basis for political control of weapons ownership and use, as well as the design of educational programs.

Further Information
The conference will be held in English and will not be open to the general public. Limited space is however available for journalists. The participates will be happy to take part in interviews. Please do not hesitate to contact us. Those interested should get in contact no later than Monday 25th August 2014: presse@mpib-berlin.mpg.de

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