Zach St. George reminds us that not all gun ownership is about hunting or self-defense:
[T]he cowboys at the Richmond Rod and Gun Club — whooping at good shots, ribbing each other over their costumes — hint at a more basic reason for the popularity of guns in America: They're fun. Like an old car and a Roman candle rolled into one, guns are a hobbyist's dream. They're collectable and endlessly customizable, fit for tinkerers, pyros, and sporting types alike. The objections to guns are learned, based on moral and intellectual arguments, but the physical appeal is natural, childlike in its simplicity — pull a trigger over here, and something happens over there. Pop pop pop pop pop!
Understanding the fun of guns is part of understanding why people own guns, says Adam Winkler, a law professor at UCLA, and author of Gun Fight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America. "Gun control advocates ask, 'Why does anyone need this particular kind of gun, like an AR-15 (an assault rifle similar to the one used by the U.S. military)?" Winkler says. "The reason people like an AR-15 is because it's fun to shoot." Firing a weapon, he says, triggers the same chemicals in the brain as riding a roller coaster: endorphins and adrenaline.