I think the topic fascinates me because I have no dog in the fight, and if anything, have a cultural antipathy to guns in general. My children were among those who were not allowed to have any toy guns, and even finger-guns were discouraged in horror at Bedford Montessori School. It was one of the last bricks in the wall to fall for me in abandoning liberalism. At some gut level, I just believed that if there were fewer guns around and we were stricter about who had them, and if guys didn't get so excited and admiring about gun stuff and gun stories, we would all be safer. I still have no interest in learning about them and being near them makes me nervous. (Of course, with my hand-eye coordination, that's reasonable. I would be extremely likely to take out the refrigerator and a couple of windows if we had a gun around.)
It was the numbers that convinced me, and that was slow.
I saw a quote from Chief Justice Warren Burger that the Second Amendment interpretation that guaranteed individual gun rights as opposed to militia rights was a huge fraud. I have no idea if the quote is authentic, but I thought it would be interesting to see what a 1960's conservative justice's influences were. This led me to reading up on the history of gun control in general.
I had read before that early gun control occurred in the Reconstruction era to keep guns out of the hands of newly-freed slaves. That seemed a mild left-right irony compared to the present, but I didn't think it particularly germane now. The next two major dates on the timeline caught my eye, however. Gun control became a big deal again in the 1920's and 30's, both at the state and federal levels.
Well gosh and gee whillikers, that's exactly the same time period that America felt it had just about enough of immigrants and instituted Prohibition in order to keep those Slavs and Dagos and hot-blooded Latins from getting dangerous, isn't it? If fact, I think that was a major theme for Ken Burn's film "Prohibition." 1927 was the year that we hugely restricted immigration, until it ramped up again in 1964. Waves of Jews and whatnot from Europe, plus (gulp) colored people from the south were all moving to the Northern cities. And union organisers and all those Bolsheviks, all in the cities, too. What about them? These were not regular rural white people who hunted, these were people who weren't...reliable. The law schools of the era were suddenly much more in agreement that this only for the militia idea must be the original intent. Because, frankly, who signs up for the National Guard? (Wink, wink.) I'm willing to be corrected on that point, because I already had my theory by then, and I know how easy it is to find exactly what you are looking for in doing research. Especially brief, slapdash research.
Fast forward to the new gun control of the late 60's, when those law students were now judges and legislators. People had moved off the farm into the cities and suburbs, and hunting for food became less common in favor of hunting for Bambi. Plus there was a war, and y'know, that was all about guns. That layer of cultural protection was vanishing, as socially aspirational people increasing found guns to be, well, owned by either rubes or criminals. Besides, the cities were still known to be very dangerous. There was a magical hope that fewer guns in the cities - somehow, we don't know how - would make them safer. As an added bonus, all those rich guys who hunted for (ugh) sport, plus the rural people, those rubes we were trying to put in our own rear-view mirrors, could be kicked, made fun of, and accused of multiple pathologies. Hey Bungalow Bill...
I don't know if unacknowledged fear of black and hispanic people underlies modern gun control. I suspect not, actually. People get very good at disguising associations from themselves, and in a few generations we have a disgust taboo that runs entirely on modern political competition.