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rockfan's avatar

Could an obsession with guns and gun collecting be a form of OCD or mental illness?

Asked by rockfan (7899points) August 12th, 2017 from iPhone

A friend of mine on Facebook posted “New rifle! But I can still count how many guns I own on one hand, I must correct this asap.”

Realistically, someone who hunts and also wants a gun for protection really only needs 2 or 3 guns. So it strikes me as sign of mental instability if someone wants more than ten. Your thoughts?

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16 Answers

Dutchess_III's avatar

I think everyone has mild forms of OCD. Like with one any mental illness it depends on the intensity and how badly it disrupts their normal life.

I think in the example you gave it’s just a guy who is substituting his weapons due to some sort of masculine insecurity.

flameboi's avatar

Not really, with unlimited funds I’d have more cars than Jay Leno and Ralph Lauren combined. Your friend just likes guns. Besides, we are all a bit crazy in our own particular way.

chyna's avatar

I can’t even count how many shoes and purses I have. I don’t think I have a mental illness.

CWOTUS's avatar

As the others have said, why single out guns? Some people collect Hummel figurines, matchbook covers, stamps…

MrGrimm888's avatar

Well. I own more than 2, or 3… Guns have many purposes. You may not understand the importance of the differences.

An avid hunter may hunt different animals. While a shotgun, rifle, and pistol could serve the purpose, a much larger variety is usually used. Almost like golf clubs. Different weapons will have different capabilities, and therefore be better for different prey. Quails, and Bears require different weapons….

When I’ve lived in really bad spots of town, I preferred a gun in each room (no kids at,the time,in the apts.) And I had a shotgun by my couch, that I would answer the door with.

I felt safe that way. I lived in those places many years. People just knew there were easier targets…

Is it a sign of mental illness? To me, it was preparedness. Guns are tools, and people who are more likely to require certain tools have more of them.

I’ll alot that there is a portion of people who shouldn’t own guns, but own a lot, and probably won’t use them responsibly, or, with care… But very basic/reasonable hurdles must be overcome to even start to control those who stockpile weapons, with no oversight.

Aster's avatar

My son in law collects expensive guns because he loves them. I don’t know how many he has but the safe is over six feet tall , four feet deep and four feet wide. It’s a gloss black and may have gold lettering on it.
There is no way it can be opened except by his key. He is very stable mentally and financially . Health wise not so much.

ragingloli's avatar

It is a paraphilia.
Just like when a paedophile looks at a little kid on the playground and thinks “I would tap that.”,
a gun collector looks at a shiny new rifle in the storefront and thinks “I would double tap that.”

Coloma's avatar

For some yes, for others no. Big difference between being a collector of something and a mentally ill gun nut/hoarder. I am neither as I don’t like cluttering up my space with lots of stuff.

Pachy's avatar

I don’t know but I sure wish he’d collect stamps or coins. I hate guns and tend to be uncomfortable with people who treasure them.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Some people play golf, some ride motorcyles or spend money on model trains. Guns are a fun hobby like any other.

Rarebear's avatar

An obsession with anything can be a mental illness. More likely your friend just likes to collect guns. I have a friend who is building a big model railroad in his basement. That doesn’t make him mentally ill. I collect musical instruments. Everybody needs a hobby.

Dutchess_III's avatar

My Dad worked for years creating a model train set-up in our basement. It started as a Christmas present for us girls. A track running around a the tree.
He worked on it for years, creating towns and mountains and forests, train stations, farms. He built each building, stick by stick, with balsa wood. Painted and trimmed.
There were at least 2 levels of track, and the top level ran through a mountain. Well, so did the bottom one.
It was electrical, controlled by a master control panel. The controller just sat there flipping switches and making things happen.
When Dad wasn’t around we’d put cows and the small model cars on the tracks and…well, lots of dead cows and wrecked cars! We only did it a couple of times because those HO scale engines were expensive, like $80+ in the 70’s.
But it had working grain and coal elevators (coal was bird seed painted black.) You could drive the train under the dumpers, key a switch, and dump coal in the open box cars.
Had cows and passenger cars get deaded by coal disasters on the line too.
One time our cat, FourBalls (dad thought that was the funniest name ever…we named them after golf terms) got up and kind of rampaged through the towns, but it a picky, cat-like way.
Dad called us down and he built a whole Rod Serling Twilight Zone story around that giant cat.

Dad was an electrical engineer with a passion for precise detail.

I came home from college one time to see the whole thing thrown out, over the upper level, onto the hill that lead to the lower level.
I knew the end of my parent’s marriage was on us.
So, so sad.

kenwor's avatar

Mental illnesses, including OCD are associated with distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities. There is no evidence of debilitating distress or dysfunctional behavior among gun collectors, thus ruling out the possibility of mental illness.

Realistically, gun ownership depends on many variables including family size and type, property size, precautionary backups, type of animal or intruder or environment, gun style/assortment, historical relation, engineering appreciation, investment, recreation, and competition. Considering these variables, one can easily exceed the 20+ gun ownership without being considered mentally ill.

seawulf575's avatar

Does the drive to own guns cause your friend problems in his life? Is he sacrificing paying his bills so he can buy a gun? Is he distracted at work because he wants to shop for guns? Is his drive for guns causing marital problems? Is he fortifying his home because he is afraid the neighbors are going to come steal his stuff? Is he a convicted felon? If the answer to these and other questions like them is “no”, then he enjoys guns. It is no different than collecting other things. My wife is into essential oils and has a ton of them, but she isn’t OCD or otherwise mentally challenged. She enjoys using them. Many gun collectors never fire their guns. They buy them for the joy of the collection. Others enjoy taking them out to shoot them or go hunting, etc. Some want protection for the home and might want multiple guns available in different locations in the house. A simple statement that he has few enough guns that he can count them on one hand and that he wants to correct that is not enough to start worrying about his mental health.

Strauss's avatar

Hypothetically speaking, if your friend were a collector of anything else to the same extent would you have the same question?

Collection can be an obsession, and acquisition can be a compulsion, but not everything combination of these two activities is necessarily a disorder.

Ask any guitarist if they would be satisfied with only one guitar when they could afford two, or three, or forty? Like guns, different guitars have design characteristics for different effects.

Dutchess_III's avatar

(Apparently I collect grand children. I can’t afford to be OCD!)

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