In my work on gun culture, I have systematically avoided collecting systematic data on gun culture online. True, I have spent time with and attended a seminar by YouTube star John Correia of Active Self Protection. But I just don’t have the stomach to wade into many online gun forums or follow too much gun social media.
Fortunately, other scholars are braver than I am. Among them is Connie Hassett-Walker. Following on her recent book, Guns on the Internet (Routledge, 2019), she offers some examples of and reflections on humor in gun owners’ YouTube video here.
In the conclusion to her book (and in an essay on The Conversation), she issues “The 100 YouTube Video Challenge.” Designed to inspire open-mindedness and empathy for those on the other side of the gun debate, the challenge entails watching 100 YouTube videos “showcasing something from the opposing side.” Not only that, “but identifying three things in the videos they watch to which they could relate” (p. 131).
Here she gives those on the gun control side 8 pro-gun videos to get them started toward their 100. Please suggest other videos from either side of the debate in the comments.
By Connie Hassett-Walker
I imagine what you’re thinking. ‘Gun videos’… ‘humor’… what?
I’ve spent the past few years thinking about how to bridge the divide between gun rights supporters and gun control advocates. In doing research for my book Guns on the Internet, I’ve watched my fair share of gun owner-made videos. (Blame my husband the sportsman. He got me into it.) Oh, you didn’t know that gun owners make videos? Hundreds of thousands of them, viewed millions of times. They have YouTube channels with millions of subscribers. Videos about what, you ask? Gun reviews. Issues with certain types of firearms, and fixes for those problems. Cleaning tips. They even get into feuds with one another, with one person picking a fight and the other doing a clap-back response video. (See, for example, the video drama between Hank Strange and the Yankee Marshall.)
My book was published in 2018, and yet I still regularly watch YouTube videos. While most viewers probably watch for the gun-related focus of the videos, I like watching the funny ones. Humor isn’t usually THE point (unless it’s a Demolition Ranch video), but it’s there. Some favorites of mine include: Texas Plinking’s Gun videos parody. What’s that saying about imitation being the sincerest form of flattery?
Hickok45 “Tactical Zombie Training”
A collaboration video between Hickok45 and Demolition Ranch’s Matt Carriker, aptly titled “Forcing Hickok to Review Guns He’s Uncomfortable with…” Hickok is a tall man with a large frame and large hands, so you can imagine the types of firearms Matt brought.
Another collaboration video with Matt Carriker, Nicholas Irving and Robert Oberst. Who says snipers can’t be funny?
Colion Noir on how to get ready to go to the gun range. How many hats must a man try on?
Of course the king of YouTube gun-video humor has got to be Demolition Ranch’s Matt Carriker, as anyone who watches his channel surely knows. His channel is full of gun-related experiments that Mr. Carriker has described as ‘science you don’t really need’. Do bullet-proof hoodies stop rounds? What about fire extinguishers? A lead block? A gun safe? Pretty much anything else you can think of (prison cafeteria trays, legos, flex tape, flex seal, a gold bar, a silver bar, a titanium bar). These items and more have all been the focus of a Demo Ranch ‘is it bulletproof?’ video. One of my favorites is “Can Flex Seal Stop a Bullet?”
Might it be possible to use humor to help bridge the divide between gun owners and gun control advocates? Maybe. It’s hard to see someone as the enemy when they’re making you laugh.
About the Author
Connie Hassett-Walker is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Kean University in Union, New Jersey. She holds a PhD in Criminal Justice from Rutgers University (2007). Her dissertation (“Delinquency and the Black Middle Class”) was awarded second place by the by the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) for the 2006 Social Issues Dissertation Award. Prior to joining the faculty at Kean University, Dr. Hassett-Walker worked as a research associate at the Violence Institute of New Jersey, at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (now Rutgers University). In 2012, she received an AREA grant from the National Institutes of Health to examine the impact of justice system involvement on youths’ substance use trajectories. Her research has been published in a variety of scholarly journals including the Journal of Developmental and Life-Course Criminology, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, and the Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice. She is the author of Black Middle Class Delinquents (2009, LFB Scholarly Publishing); and Guns on the Internet: Online Gun Communities, First Amendment Protections, and the Search for Common Ground on Gun Control (forthcoming in 2018, Taylor & Francis/Routledge). She blogs about crime & justice issues at http://njcriminologist.blogspot.com/.