Yes, debates about gun policy are so heated because people view it as a matter of protection, because people are afraid of the government. People also take safety in knowing that they have the ability to defend themselves if they are attacked in the middle of the night. The debate is heated because others feel so strongly the other way.
The entire gun rights debate dates back to the founding of the United States and the mistrust of government. It makes sense as we just shrugged off the most tyrannical empire in earth's history and became the first real post-enlightenment nation to be formed. Having to protect ourselves is ingrained in the US psyche.
Protection plays a big role in gun debates. People want to be able to defend themselves and feel safe. Many feel that more gun regulation harms those that follow the law and leave them with less protection while criminals, that don't care about the law or regulations, will still be able to get guns.
I definitely think that the reason gun policies get so heated are because some people view it as a matter of personal protection. I think that some people truly believe that it is their right to be able to protect themselves and their families any way possible. And it is also a right for Americans to own a gun.
I believe debates about gun policy are so heated because people have been warned about these types of policies. I think elders in our lives have warned us about a time when guns may be taken away or what to watch for from your government when things may be going out of control. I think its these older, wiser cliff notes that hang in peoples head that make these discussions so heated.
People who congregate in urban areas live in an environment that needs more management. They like to pass duty for their well being up to the managers. People who like to be less dependent and more self reliant tend to be more motivated to more rural environs. It is the different personality types that do not understand each other that is the cause. The self reliant disdains the coward who would shield under someone else' protection. And the peaceful urbanite sees the rough barbaric nature of the person who would introduce uncertainty into his pleasant existence.