Was the Storming of the U.S. Capitol Building an “Insurrection”?

In early January 2021, my work was disrupted by a text message from a friend: “They are storming the capitol.” It took me a moment to figure out who “they” were, but I soon made the connection. They were people gathered for the March for Trump rally in Washington, DC. Formally organized by Women For America First, the rally included a motley crew of people wanting to “Save America” by overturning Donald J. Trump’s defeat by Joseph R. Biden in the November 2020 presidential election. Joining run-of-the mill members of “MAGA nation” in forcefully entering the U.S. Capitol Building were followers of movements like Stop the Steal, the QAnon conspiracy, Proud Boys, Nick Fuentes’s Groyper Army, Boogaloo Bois, Oath Keepers, and III%ers.

As they were attempting to disrupt a meeting of Congress that was certifying Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory, many have called the event an insurrection.

But was it?

NOTE: I am not an attorney, nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, so nothing in this post should be construed as giving legal advice or as constituting comprehensive and accurate interpretation of the law.

DC Capitol Storming by TapTheForwardAssist, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
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A Woman’s Place in Gun Advertisements – New Study Posted

TLDR: I just posted a publicly-accessible pre-print of a book chapter, “A Woman’s Place in Gun Advertisements: The American Rifleman, 1920-2019,” co-authored with recent Wake Forest University graduate (and current George Washington University Law School 1L) Riley Satterwhite and my son Paul Yamane (Wake Forest ’16). The chapter is scheduled to appear in the forthcoming Second Edition of the book, Understanding American Gun Culture.

For longer than I care to remember, I have been working on an analysis of the portrayal of women in gun advertising. I have posted some elementary thoughts about this along the way, including on Crimson’s Trace’s interesting banner at the 2016 NRA annual meeting and a pair of ads they ran in The American Rifleman in 2009, as well as a TV ad for the M&P Shield placed on Sportsman’s Channel by Smith & Wesson.

Although gun culture is typically characterized as embodying hegemonic masculinity, looking at advertisements over a 100 year time period complicates the gender story. To wit: As soon as I embarked on my study of the rise of self-defense (Gun Culture 2.0) using ads in The American Rifleman (and later Guns), I noticed some surprising appearances of women in those magazines. One example I first posted about in 2015 (did I mention I have been at this for a while?) was an ad for Peters Cartridges featuring a Lady Champion shooter which ran in January 1937.

Peters Cartridge Advertisement in The American Rifleman, January 1937
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2021: A Sneak Peek of My Year Ahead

I am trying to break the grip the current moment has on my attention, and thought a good way to do that would be to have a brief look at my year ahead.

For the spring semester, I am on a research leave, meaning I am excused from my normal teaching and service obligations as a faculty member at Wake Forest University. My main goal during this leave is to make serious progress on my (long-awaited?) book on American gun culture.

I am going to try to wrap up as many ongoing projects as possible in January so that beginning in February the bulk of my attention and energy will be on the book. Among these ongoing projects is a short book on the history of concealed carry laws and their implementation. The book will be available as a print and eBook through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, other online channels, and by special order through local book stores.

I will also be giving free electronic copies to everyone who supports me as a member on Buy Me a Coffee ($5/month or $60/year).

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Why Are There So Few Violent Insurrectionist Gun Owners?

In the wake of the invasion of the U.S. Capitol Building last week by supporters of President Donald Trump, philosopher Firmin DeBrabander (author of Do Guns Make Us Free? Democracy and the Armed Society) pointed a finger in The Atlantic at the gun rights movement, holding it responsible for promoting “insurrectionist fever dreams.”

The many typical gaffes in the article notwithstanding, my major reservation with DeBrabander’s argument is similar to my reservations about many news stories and scholarly articles about gun culture: It paints with too broad a brush.

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2020 Brief Year in Review

Although 2020 presented some unprecedented challenges, I managed to have some successes along the way.

I published two scholarly articles on guns. The first, “Targeted Advertising: Documenting the Emergence of Gun Culture 2.0 in Guns Magazine, 1955–2019,” was a replication of my earlier work examining advertising in The American Rifleman from 1918-2017. It showed substantially the same pattern of a shift in the center of gravity of gun culture from Version 1.0 to Version 2.0.

The second was published right at the end of the year, “Who Are the Liberal Gun Owners?” This article actually had its origins in a question I first raised on this blog.

Brian Hill teaching at The Complete Combatant, Dahlonega, Georgia, June 2020. Photo by David Yamane
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Top 10 Most Viewed Posts in 2020

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, and readership of this blog lags well behind Gun Culture 2.0, I remain committed to posting here about issues relating to guns for people across the political and gun ownership spectra.

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Collected Posts on Sociology of Guns Seminar

I was scheduled to teach Sociology of Religion in Fall 2020. When my current class found this out they expressed considerable disappointment that I wouldn’t be teaching my Sociology of Guns seminar. So I made a last minute change and will be teaching the course for the 6th straight calendar.

I have posted a number of times on this blog and my older Gun Culture 2.0 blog about this seminar I have been teaching in the Department of Sociology at Wake Forest University since 2015. This entry collects as many earlier posts as possible — from both blogs — including many written by students in the class.

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