This essay is part of the series Protests, Insurrection, and the Second Amendment.
ABSTRACT: Most debates over gun rights are either interpretive, about the meaning of the Second Amendment, or empirical, about whether guns enhance or undermine safety. My goal in this essay is to introduce a third factor into the debate: the “imaginary narrative.” When I say “imaginary,” I mean to suggest a narrative that does not reflect typical or common experience. I use the context of guns and domestic violence to illustrate the phenomenon. The pro-gun imaginary narrative, when it comes to domestic violence, involves a victim confronting her abuser. Because she has a firearm, she is able to protect herself from him. But that fantasy does not comport with the reality of intimate partner abuse. I propose here that we acknowledge and interrogate imaginary narratives lest our laws and policies become disconnected from the true needs of our society.