There's a brief scene in Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket in which the new recruits, led by Gunnery Sgt. Hartman, chant in unison, "This is my rifle, this is my gun. This is for fighting, this is for fun." On the words "gun" and "fun" the privates grab their, well, privates, letting the audience know that there's a Marine-Corp-specific semantic distinction between the words "rifle" and "gun."
Unfortunately, too many pro-gun American men don't know the difference and this is a central problem in the process of redefining the purpose and availability of firearms in America. Men, whether intentional or not, tend to confuse their guns for their penises. The bigger the gun/penis, the more masculine they are. Guns have become penis extensions, if not penis substitutes, and the phallic similarities are obvious.
Consequently, our gun culture too often blurs the line between masculinity and firearms, even among people who ought to know better. If you own, hunt, shoot, or generally fetishize firearms, it's considered to be synonymous with being a tough, virile guy. Likewise, if you're opposed to guns or, dare I say, afraid of guns, you're considered girlish or -- heaven forbid -- gay. [continue reading here]