Modules 5, 6, and 7 of Sociology of Guns focus on three of the four parts of the Holy Quaternity of sociology: race, gender, and sexuality (we touch some on social class, too).
There is no shortage of writing about how gun owners are racist, but my interest in this module is in non-deviant racial minority gun owners. Unfortunately, comparatively little has been written about this topic by contemporary social scientists (historians and legal scholars, like Nicholas Johnson, have done better), so I have to get more creative in putting together this reading list.
Required readings for Module 5 are:
- Alexandra Filindra, Noah J. Kaplan, and Beyza E. Buyuker, “Racial Resentment or Sexism? White Americans’ Outgroup Attitudes as Predictors of Gun Ownership and NRA Membership.” Sociological Inquiry (2021). Finds “racial resentment is associated with gun ownership, rationales for owning firearms, and NRA membership.”
- Nicholas Johnson, “The Black Tradition of Arms and the Modern Orthodoxy,” in Negroes and the Gun: The Black Tradition of Arms (2014). The modern orthodoxy here is gun supply-control policies that are frequently supported in the African American community, but that are in tension with the black tradition of arms Johnson recovers in his book.
- Christy Allen, “‘Gun Rights Are Civil Rights’: Racism and the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in the United States,” in Open Fire: Understanding Global Gun Cultures (2007). Based on field research and interviews with individuals like the original “Black Man with a Gun,” Kenn Blanchard, this book chapter highlights some reasons African Americans support gun rights.
- Jennifer Carlson, “Legally Armed but Presumed Dangerous,” in Policing the Second Amendment: Guns, Law Enforcement, and the Politics of Race (2020).
Recommended readings for Module 5 are:
- Jennifer Carlson, “‘I Don’t Dial 9-1-1’: American Gun Politics and the Problem of Policing,” British Journal of Criminology (2012). Contrasts conservative white heterosexual men’s support of neo-liberal gun politics to racial minorities’ neo-radical gun politics. Anticipates argument in Citizen-Protectors.
- Jennifer Carlson, Citizen-Protectors: The Everyday Politics of Guns in an Age of Decline (2015). One of the best books about guns in America and one I used to assign when I first taught this course. Downwardly mobile white men carry guns to solve their identity problems. Chapter 5 (“Policing Guns, Profiling People”) addresses the issue of black gun owners in ways that follow from “I Don’t Dial 9-1-1” and anticipates Policing the Second Amendment.
- F. Carson Mencken and Paul Froese, “Gun Culture in Action,” Social Problems (2017). A quantitative version of Carlson’s argument that “white men in economic distress find comfort in guns as a means to reestablish a sense of individual power and moral certitude.”
- Harel Shapira, “Calvin’s Problem: Racial Identity and Gun Ownership,” Public Culture (2017). “Calvin finds his race to be a barrier to his participation in the world of guns.” Interesting story that no doubt captures a truth for some black gun owners.
- Lance Hill, The Deacons for Defense: Armed Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement (2006). One of the first historical studies to recover this missing dimension of the civil rights movement.
- Simon Wendt, The Spirit and the Shotgun: Armed Resistance and the Struggle for Civil Rights (2010). Focuses on the role of armed self-defense in the rural south, especially Louisiana.
- Akinyele Omowale Umoja, We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement (2013). Argues that armed resistance was critical to the Southern freedom struggle and the dismantling of segregation and Black disenfranchisement.
- Charles E. Cobb. This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible (2015). Explores role of guns in Civil Rights movement and considers the paradoxical relationship between black rights and the Second Amendment.
- Carol Anderson, The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America (2021). The Second Amendment is racist.
I don’t take the recommended readings to be comprehensive or complete. Suggestions are welcome.