Light Over Heat #2: Big Denominators and Estimates of Gun Ownership in the United States

In this second “Light Over Heat with Professor David Yamane” video I think about the importance of big denominators in understanding guns and gun owners in the United States, and explain why surveys tend to underestimate the rate of gun ownership.

Accounting for under-reporting of gun ownership in surveys, I conclude it’s possible that 40% of all American adults own a gun, which would be over 100 million people.

That is a mighty large denominator to use when thinking about how normal guns and gun owners are, which was the topic of “Light Over Heat” Video #1 last week.

New “Light Over Heat” videos are released on YouTube every Wednesday, so please surf over to my YouTube channel and SUBSCRIBE to follow and RING THE BELL to receive notifications.

Light Over Heat Video #1: Just How Normal Are Guns and Gun Owners, Anyway?

In this first “Light Over Heat with Professor David Yamane” video I take up the question, “Just how normal are guns and gun owners, anyway?”

Drawing on data on negative outcomes with guns as a proportion of the total number of guns owned in the US (400 million), the total number of gun owners (76.56 million), and the total number of gun owning households (51.44 million), I conclude that guns and gun owners are VERY NORMAL.

99.85% of guns, 99.21% of gun owners, and 99.82% of gun owning households will not be involved in any fatalities, non-fatal injuries, or violent victimizations involving guns on any given day. The vast majority of American gun owners do perfectly normal things with their guns.

The basis for the data I use and calculations I make in this video can be found in the associated blog post on my Gun Culture 2.0 blog.

New “Light Over Heat” videos are released on YouTube every Wednesday, so please surf over to my YouTube channel and SUBSCRIBE to follow and RING THE BELL to receive notifications.

2021 Top 10 Most Viewed Posts on Gun Curious

I launched this blog in February 2019 because my Gun Culture 2.0 blog has come to be read almost exclusively by people who are invested in gun culture. Although they are an important audience for my work, I also want to translate what I am learning about guns to the gun curious — those interested in but unsure about guns. People in the middle. Those who are not already 100% convinced of their views.

Although I am not yet convinced that I am reaching such an audience, I remain committed to posting here about issues relating to guns for people across the political and gun ownership spectra.

Unlike the Gun Culture 2.0 blog, which saw a dramatic decline in readership, in 2021 Gun Curious received almost exactly the same number of visitors and page views as it did in 2020.

You can see the Top 10 most viewed posts on Gun Culture 2.0 to get a sense of how the content differs.

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New Year, New Channel: Announcing “Light Over Heat” on YouTube

Happy New Year! I hope everyone has some good plans for 2022. Let me briefly tell you about one of mine.

Although I posted nearly as many times on my two blogs (Gun Culture 2.0 and Gun Curious) in 2021 as I did in 2020 (129 posts vs. 135 posts), combined visitors to the blogs declined by nearly 30% in 2021 and page views decreased by 44%.

It is certainly possible that people are no longer buying what I am selling regarding guns and gun culture. But other bloggers tell me their numbers are down also. Which makes me think the heyday of blogs is past and I need to find a new medium through which to educate people and enrich collective conversations about this complex and controversial issue.

So in 2022 I am re-launching my YouTube channel as “Light Over Heat with Professor David Yamane.”

“Light Over Heat” has long been my motto in approaching guns, a topic on which there is too much hostility and not enough insight. To bring light over heat, every Wednesday I will post a short (4-5 minute) video to YouTube in which I take up some important question or issue in understanding guns and gun culture.

Please surf over my channel on YouTube, hit the SUBSCRIBE button to follow me on this adventure, and RING THE BELL so you get notifications of new video releases.

If there are questions you would like answered or issues you would like addressed, please let me know directly or leave them in the comments. Thank you!

Results from the 2021 National Firearms Survey

A summary of results from the 2021 National Firearms Survey was posted to the SSRN site back in July. I confess to missing it the first time around because I thought it was the same National Firearms Survey that was fielded by scholars at Northeastern and Harvard Universities this year (results from which about firearm purchasing during the COVID pandemic I commented on recently).

It turns out this is a separate National Firearms Survey, fielded by William English, a political economist at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. I’m quite intrigued by the existence of this survey because I have never heard of William English in the field of gun studies and there is nothing in his scholarly background that indicates he would do work in this area.

To say this is certainly not a criticism of William English. People would have said the same about me 10 years ago, also. He seems to be an outsider to the field and I hope that will allow him to bring fresh perspectives to it.

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Response to Chad Kautzer on America as a Tactical Gun Culture

In approaching the scholarly literature in my Sociology of Guns seminar, I tell my students that they need to read in two steps: reading WITH the grain of a text and reading AGAINST the grain.

I take these ideas from David Bartholomae and Aaron Petrosky’s Ways of Reading: An Anthology for Writers.

To read generously, to work inside someone else’s system, to see your world in someone else’s terms — we call this “reading with the grain.”

Bartholomae and Petrosky, Ways of Reading

To read against the grain, by contrast, means:

to read critically, to turn back, for example, against an author’s project, to ask questions they believe might come as a surprise, to look for the limits of their vision, to provide alternate readings of the examples, to find examples that challenge their arguments – to engage the author, in other words, in dialogue.

Bartholomae and Petrosky, Ways of Reading

These two moments in the reading process are characterized by generosity and dialogue. Encouraging this among my students is part of my general approach to the issue of guns in America: light over heat.

As a reader recently, I fell short of my own ideal in engaging an essay by Chad Kautzer published in the Boston Review, “America as a Tactical Gun Culture.” I did not read generously in the first moment and I did not seek to engage in dialogue. Kautzer wrote a quick reply to my original post which gives me a second chance.

Read on for my response to Kautzer’s reply.

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Collected Posts on Sociology of Guns Seminar (Updated 12/21)

In Fall 2021, I taught my “Sociology of Guns” seminar at Wake Forest University for the seventh consecutive academic year, dating back to the fall of 2015. A PDF of the course syllabus for Version 7.0 is available HERE, and links to each of the course modules are available below.

Over the years, I have posted a number of times on this blog and my older Gun Culture 2.0 blog about this seminar. This entry collects those earlier posts — from both blogs — including many written by students in the class.

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Sociology of Guns Seminar Student Final Reflection #8: I Just Could Never Understand This Great Excitement about Guns

As noted earlier, the final assignment of the semester in my Sociology of Guns seminar is for the students to write an essay reflecting on their personal experience with and understanding of guns in light of what they learned in the course.

This is the eighth and final final reflection essays, written by a student whose initial reflections on our field trip to the gun range can be found here. (Link to the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh reflection essays.)

Reflection essay author presenting her work to Sociology of Guns seminar, November 2021. Photo by David Yamane
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Author Chad Kautzer’s Reply to “Boston Review’s Magnificently Consistent Takes on Gun Culture”

Below you will find a comment written by one of the authors whose work I criticized in a recent post, philosopher Chad Kautzer. Because many people miss (or actively avoid reading) the comments, I offered to move his comments to a free-standing post as a reply to my original.

As Kautzer notes, authors feel honored when people take time to read and think about their work, even when you don’t think the reader gets it quite right, or even if you think the reader gets it quite wrong. I feel the same here, and posting his vigorous reply fits in with my overall goal in attempting to understand guns and gun culture in America: LIGHT OVER HEAT.

My original post (as evidenced by a mistake Kautzer notes) and Kautzer’s reply were both written fairly quickly, and so Kautzer’s reply here appears as it was originally written to preserve that reality. Please read on.

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Sociology of Guns Seminar Student Final Reflection #7: There is Still More that I Would Like to Know to Make Informed Choices

As noted earlier, the final assignment of the semester in my Sociology of Guns seminar is for the students to write an essay reflecting on their personal experience with and understanding of guns in light of what they learned in the course.

Here is the seventh of several such essays, written by a student whose initial reflections on our field trip to the gun range can be found here. (Link to the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth reflection essays.)

Reflection essay author presenting his work to Sociology of Guns seminar, November 2021. Photo by David Yamane
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