We live in a society and time when the odds that you will die as a result of interpersonal violence are lower than they have been in all of human history. And, we also live in a time when more and more people are claiming a need to carry concealed weapons with them everywhere: churches, bars, schools, private businesses, public spaces, etc.
More than half the men I see on campus or in a store are displaying the clip of a so-called tactical knife on their pants' pocket. Are they secretly SEALs?
In spite of the sensationalism of the media and the overstatement of the dangers of the world from left and right—it's not a Hobbesian state of nature out there and the New World Order is not right around the corner—we are safer than we have ever been and many of us feel more need to protect ourselves.
Similarly, we live in a society and time when fewer of us live rural lives than any time in human history since the development of agriculture. Yet, I see more people driving Silverados and F-150s than I ever saw in the rural community where I grew up. Of course, in farming communities people tend to leave the farm truck on the farm and drive the car into town; something about pig shit in your truck makes it less presentable.
We have less need of large-bed trucks than ever, and now we drive them as luxury items. It cannot be because they are needed or because of their convenience in cities.
I think both phenomena are related. We live in a society where we are less and less self-sufficient. And, where what we do doesn't produce anything tangible, certainly nothing tangible that directly impacts our own lives—apart from money. You don't have to be a Marxist or influenced by Rousseau or a devotee of Ayn Rand to think that there's something in our nature that strives for autonomy and production and a sense of self-sufficiency. And our society doesn't provide much of any of that.
But a firearm or knife or farm-truck or pair of cowboy boots or even home brewery can signal, to some small degree, that I am after all in charge and capable of taking care of myself. It might still be a fantasy, but no less psychologically important for all that.