Barack Obama has apparently met his match as the “greatest gun salesman in American history.” On Sunday, an acquaintance from my years wandering around American gun culture messaged me to say that he had not seen a gun buying response like this one in some 15 years in the industry.
I asked him what in particular was different and he said that it was not a fear of being unable to get a particular gun (as under Obama), but a legitimate fear of not being able to defend themselves or their loved ones.
So, under Barack Obama, especially after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, there was a fear that certain guns would be banned. The current pandemic buying spree appears to be driven more by a felt need to have a gun right now, especially among new gun owners who, according to my contact, were numerous.
When I launched this blog in February 2019, I noted that no one had (yet) systematically studied people who are gun curious. The Pew Research Center’s 2017 report, “America’s Complex Relationship With Guns,” offers some important leads, though.
Instead of simply asking respondents whether or not they currently own a gun, the Pew Research Center wisely also asked currently gunless respondents whether they had owned guns in the past and whether they could see themselves owning a gun in the future. Pew finds that 36% of the currently gunless could see themselves owning guns in the future.
Most times I offer my Sociology of Guns seminar, I require students to obtain “permission of instructor” prior to enrolling. I do this for three main reasons.
First, many students (like many sociologists and some of the public) assume that “of guns” means “of gun violence and gun control.” I want them to be clear what they are in for.
Second, I do deal quite bluntly with issues of violence, injury, and death in the course, and not always coded negatively. Students with sensitivities to this are fairly warned.
Third, the field trip to a firearms education and safety class with optional range visit is an essential part of the course. Students need to know that if they can’t make it, they can’t take the class.
The full text of my Permission of Instructor Info form is below FYI.
Motivated by those who would reduce gun culture in the United States to the National Rifle Association (NRA), I have tried as much as possible to think and write about gun culture without paying too much attention to the NRA. In fact, when I sent out a book proposal a while ago, one of the reviewers took me to task for not discussing the NRA enough.
I have a couple of reasons for downplaying the NRA in my work.
I reviewed articles for two scholarly journals yesterday, one of which was quite good and one of which had a very good empirical analysis embedded in a badly biased introduction and conclusion.
It becomes more and more challenging to maintain my equanimity as I review articles which have such clear implicit — and, frequently, explicit — biases. In fact, not long ago my frustration boiled over onto Twitter and I nearly got in trouble for violating the confidentiality of the peer review process.