Sociology of Guns Module 3: Gun Culture 2.0, the Great Gun Buying Spree of 2020+, and the Changing Face of Gun Owners

This module takes up the demographics of gun ownship, the Great Gun Buying Spree of 2020+, and the changing face of American gun owners.

We know from many surveys over a long period of time that the statistically average legal gun owner is a middle-aged, politically conservative, married, white man from a rural area in the South or Mountain West. Basically, the main characters from TV’s “Duck Dynasty.”

But one of the problems with averages is they hide diversity. The average American, after all, has one testicle.

As we see in this module, compared to Gun Culture 1.0, Gun Culture 2.0 is younger and more female, more racially and sexually diverse, more urban and suburban, and more attracted to handguns for self-defense. New and non-traditional buyers in the Great Gun Buying Spree of 2020+ made this abundantly clear and scholarship on gun owners is beginning to catch up.

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“Race and Guns in America” Webinar on Saturday July 31

I was recently querying Academic Twitter about peer-reviewed social scientific publications on non-deviant African American gun owners to assign in the module on race in my Sociology of Guns seminar (more on that module forthcoming). I was disheartened but not surprised that there are none (historians and legal scholars have done better). After all, only this year was a peer-reviewed sociological study of LGBT gun owners published.

Perhaps the times are changing. From 2:00-4:00pm Eastern Time on July 31, I will be joining Wake Forest Law Professor Gregory Parks and a panel of other academics and experts for a thoughtful and thought-provoking webinar on race and guns in the U.S.

The conversation will examine how race intersects with the history of gun ownership in America, the roots of the Second Amendment, and the modern politics of guns. Panelists will bring a historical, legal, psychological, and sociological lens to bear on the discussion, “Race and Guns in America: A Conversation About Black Gun Ownership.”

You can register for the event here.

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Sociology of Guns Module 2: Guns Are Normal, Normal People Use Guns

Everyone approaches the study of and teaching about guns from a particular perspective. My own perspective comes from my involvement in gun culture over the past decade, which has profoundly shifted my perspective on guns and gun owners. Over the years I have refined this perspective into a sort of motto:

Guns are normal, and normal people use guns.

I first used this exact phrase during my address at the National Firearms Law Seminar and now sell t-shirts with the phrase to raise funds to support my research on gun culture.

In this first substantive module of Sociology of Guns, I share with my Sociology of Guns students this overarching perspective from which I approach the class.

Photo by Robin Lindner/RLI Media
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Sociology of Guns Module 1: Field Trip to Gun Range

As I prepare to teach my Sociology of Guns course Version 7.0, I thought I would post as much of the material for the different modules I am teaching this fall as possible.

Probably the most unique aspect of this course from the start has been the class trip to the gun range. Before we ever meet as a class or discuss any opinions, ideas, or scholarship on guns, students are REQUIRED to attend a field trip to the gun range. Once there, they are given the OPTION to try shooting.

The range field trip is such a highlight of the class for students, I joke that the course goes downhill after day 1.

Sociology of Guns Inaugural Student Field Trip to Gun Range, 2015. Photo by David Yamane
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Concealed Weapon Carry Laws in the US: A Primer (Updated July 2021)

I submitted the manuscript for my recent small book, Concealed Carry Revolution: Expanding the Right to Bear Arms in America, at the end of 2020. It was out of date from the start! Since January of 2021, five more states have passed permitless carry laws: Iowa, Tennessee, Utah, Montana, and Texas.

These developments provide a good occasion to review concealed weapon carry permit laws in the US.

Regulatory Regimes

There are four basic regulatory regimes governing the carrying of concealed weapons in public. From least to most restrictive, they are:

  • Permitless Carry (without the option to get a concealed carry permit)
  • Permitless Carry (with the option to get a concealed carry permit)
  • Shall Issue
  • May Issue

The image below briefly describes these regimes and highlights certain caveats.

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Student Gun Range Field Trip: Triggers and Cognitive Dissonance

In response to my recent post about prepping for Sociology of Guns V7.0, reader DZ asked:

I’m curious. Have any of your students been “triggered” by the range trip? Are any affected emotionally by shooting a firearm for the first time? Have you had students refuse to participate?

These are great questions that I am happy to answer.

Sociology of Guns student at range. Photo by Robin Lindner/RLI Media
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Prepping for Sociology of Guns Ver 7.0

It’s hard to believe that I first taught my “Sociology of Guns” seminar at Wake Forest six years ago, in the fall of 2015. This fall I will teach the course for the seventh time in seven academic years.

Although some aspects of the course do not change — the class field trip to the gun range, most importantly — I do try to tweak the courses materials from year to year to reflect my own interests and developments in the field of gun studies.

Following are the broad outlines of where I am going with the Sociology of Guns Ver 7.0 this fall, including some guest lecturers who will be reprising their previous visits.

Professor Yamane with Wake Forest student at field trip to Veterans Range, Mocksville, NC. Photo by Robin Lindner/RLI Media
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