As with gun safety, safe storage of firearms is something that people on all sides of the Great Gun Debates in America agree is important. But the way some gun violence prevention organizations, like Brady United Against Gun Violence in the “End Family Fire” initiative, define “safe storage” is not acceptable to many responsible gun owners.
A recent editorial in the American Journal of Public Health included gun educator Rob Pincus and the definition it proposes is more adequate to the reality of how responsible gun owners want to store (and stage) their firearms at home.
As I discuss in this week’s Episode 8 of “Light Over Heat,” the sort of dialogue and collaboration that yielded this editorial may be a good path to promoting light over heat on the issue of guns.
Last year I was invited to contribute to a special issue of The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science by the editors Cassandra Crifasi, Jennifer Dineen, and Kerri Raissian. The theme of this issue is “Gun Violence in America: What Works and What is Possible.”
Specifically, the editors invited me “to write a paper overviewing the evolution of American gun culture – from hunting to gun culture 2.0. Your scholarship in this area will help readers of the special issue understand the role guns play in American culture and how that role has evolved (or not) over time.”
I am always flattered but such invitations, though perhaps I should not be. Maybe the first dozen people they asked said “No”? More likely is the reality that not many scholars have focused their work on gun culture per se, as opposed to adverse outcomes with guns, which is the primary focus of this special issue.
As usual, my participation in these sorts of enterprises reminds me of the Sesame Street song I remember so well from my childhood.
My contribution will focus on the rise of Gun Culture 2.0, the self-defense core of American gun culture today. But I also want to engage what I call “The Standard Model of Explaining the Irrationality of Defensive Gun Ownership” – the primary way gun studies scholars approach Gun Culture 2.0.
Among the unique qualities of Professor English’s National Firearms Survey is that he asked respondents whether they owned AR-15 style rifles or large-capacity magazines (holding 10+ rounds of ammunition).
English finds that 30.2% of gun owners have owned AR-15 style rifles (around 25 million people), and 48% have owned 10+ capacity magazines (approximately 40 million people).
(From Episode 2 of “Light Over Heat,” remember these are very conservative estimates of ownership rates given the underreporting of gun ownership in surveys.)
Beyond simply being interesting empirically, these findings are relevant to the legal question of whether certain firearms are in “common use.”
So it perhaps goes without saying that I am on board with the Liberal Gun Owners Lens project and have consulted with LGO Executive Director Randy Miyan regularly about it. I’ve participated in the LGO’s annual firearms training event and Miyan has guest lectured twice in my Sociology of Guns seminar at Wake Forest.
This is to say: I’m not a neutral analyst of the Liberal Gun Owners. I am a contributor to and a fan of the work.
In last week’s video on Gun Culture 2.0, I mentioned the “Concealed Carry Revolution” as establishing an important aspect of the legal environment within which people practice armed self-defense today.