The Black Church Tradition of Arms, W.E.B. DuBois, and Bethel Church of Philadelphia

Thus one can see in the Negro church to-day, reproduced in microcosm, all the great world from which the Negro is cut off by color-prejudice and social condition. In the great city churches the same tendency is noticeable and in many respects emphasized. A great church like the Bethel of Philadelphia has over eleven hundred members, an edifice seating fifteen hundred persons and valued at one hundred thousand dollars, an annual budget of five thousand dollars, and a government consisting of a pastor with several assisting local preachers, an executive and legislative board, financial boards and tax collectors; general church meetings for making laws; sub-divided groups led by class leaders, a company of militia, and twenty-four auxiliary societies. The activity of a church like this is immense and far-reaching, and the bishops who preside over these organizations throughout the land are among the most powerful Negro rulers in the world.

A “company of militia”? Well, that got my attention.

Reading an excerpt from The Souls of Black Folk by the great African-American intellectual W.E.B. DuBois for my sociological theory class last week, I came across the interesting description of Philadelphia’s Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church copied above, including the reference to “a company of militia.”

For reasons I discuss below, I was not altogether surprised that Mother Bethel had a “militia” — because racism and the need to defend the church and its community — only that DuBois mentioned it in passing, without remarking on it further.

Statue of founder Richard Allen outside Mother Bethel AME Church in Philadelphia, PA. Photo by Sandra Stroud Yamane

Continue reading

The National Rifle Association’s Sacralization of the Second Amendment

In a recent appearance on Ballistic Radio with John Johnston, I spoke some about ways in which gun culture can be like a religion. Although I ultimately concluded that there are important differences between the two, I have noted the confluence of guns and religion previously — both in my academic work and on my Gun Culture 2.0 blog.

For example, reflecting on my first experience attending the National Rifle Association annual meeting, I came away with the conclusion that the NRA is a Christian organization. Of course, this was a somewhat impressionistic observation.

Recently, Dr. Jessica Dawson — a sociologist the United States Military Academy at West Point and a U.S. Army Major — has addressed this issue more systematically in an article entitled, “Shall not be infringed: How the NRA used religious language to transform the meaning of the Second Amendment” (the journal, Palgrave Communications, is open-access, there is no paywall to read or download it).

Continue reading

2019 Year in Review and Top 10 Most Viewed Posts

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.

Compared to my first full year blogging at Gun Culture 2.0, my first year at Gun Curious was pretty successful. I posted 38 times, had 12,318 visitors, and 21,401 page views. So, between 500 and 600 page views per post, on average. I think that is reasonable for a blog that is trying to fill a niche that doesn’t have as committed an audience as a pro- or anti-gun blog does.

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad from Pexels

Continue reading

Targeted Advertising: Documenting the Emergence of Gun Culture 2.0 in Guns Magazine, 1955-2019

As noted in my recent post about the changing themes in gun advertising in The American Rifleman from 1918-2017, I have just finished a replication study based on advertising in Guns magazine from 1955 (when the magazine was founded) through 2019.

It documents the same pattern of decline of “Gun Culture 1.0” themes of hunting and recreational/sport shooting and raise of “Gun Culture 2.0” themes of personal protection and concealed carry.

A pre-publication version of the paper is available for download on SocArXiv Papers. Just two clicks and you can help this paper blow up on SocArXiv.

UPDATE: Thanks to a reader “OK S.” I now have the source of Colt’s “Safety of the Highways” ad. It was published in 1926 in The Lucky Bag, the Annual of the Regiment of Midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. The annual is available at https://archive.org/details/luckybag1926unse/page/566. Consider donating to the Internet Archive!

P.S., If you have any idea where the Colt’s “Safety of the Highways” ad was first published, I am still looking for the source of that. Thanks!

The Rise of Self-Defense in Gun Advertising, The American Rifleman, 1918-2017

I realized recently that I never posted the published version of my work analyzing gun advertisements in The American Rifleman. It documents the decline of “Gun Culture 1.0” themes of hunting and recreational/sport shooting and rise of “Gun Culture 2.0” themes of personal protection and concealed carry.

So, here is the citation and a link to the book chapter: David Yamane, Sebastian L. Ivory, and Paul C. Yamane, “The Rise of Self-Defense in Gun Advertising: The American Rifleman, 1918-2017,” in Jennifer Carlson, Kristen Goss, and Harel Shapira, eds., Guns: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Politics, Policy, and Practice (New York: Routledge, 2019).

I am currently writing up a replication study using advertisements in Guns magazine from 1955-2019, which I presented at the American Society of Criminology annual meetings in San Francisco this month. I will post a link to that paper when it is ready.

What’s Next? Understanding and Misunderstanding America’s Gun Culture (Book Chapter)

A couple of years ago, I was asked to write the concluding chapter to a book called Understanding America’s Gun Culture. My chapter would be titled, “What’s Next?”

Unfortunately, chapters in edited scholarly books are where ideas go to die. As one scholar put it: “Quite simply, if you write a chapter for an edited book, you might as well write the paper and then bury it in a hole in the ground.”

In the interest of NOT burying my ideas, here’s my chapter on “Understanding and Misunderstanding America’s Gun Culture.”