Light Over Heat #31: The Diversity and (Possible) Future of American Gun Culture

In this week’s Light Over Heat video I discuss diversity in American gun culture, both the diversity of different gun subcultures that exist today beyond the self-defense-oriented Gun Culture 2.0 and diversity within Gun Culture 2.0.

This diversity sets the stage for some speculation about possible futures for American gun culture: (1) post-Bruen growth and consolidation of Gun Culture 2.0; (2) diversity within Gun Culture 2.0 and across gun culture generally leads to a situation where “the center cannot hold” and gun culture fragments with no main center of gravity going forward; and (3) a Gun Culture 3.0 centered on Second Amendment politics.

This latter idea is one that was floated, prematurely in my view, by Claire Boine and her colleagues in their article, “What is gun culture? Cultural variations and trends across the United States.”

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Light Over Heat #30: Overview of My Work on American Gun Culture

This is my 30th consecutive weekly episode of “Light Over Heat”! Because I am seeing more people watching these videos coming from outside my existing social networks, I thought I would celebrate #30 by giving a brief overview of my approach to American gun culture and highlight a few of my key works for those interested.

Thanks for dedicating a bit of your valuable time to engaging my thoughts. I deeply appreciate it.

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How Do Gun Owners Respond to Mass Shootings Like Uvalde?

Recently I spoke on background to a couple of producers working on a news special on gun violence-related trauma. Speaking “on background” means that I would not be quoted but the producers are trying to get a better understanding of their subject matter as they proceed to put the special together.

I am usually happy to do this in order to try to have a point of view represented in the final product that might otherwise not be. For me, as someone who specializes not in gun violence but in gun culture, the POV is that of the normalcy of guns and gun owners.

In the course of our discussion, one of the producers asked me, “How do gun owners respond to mass shootings” like Uvalde?

“Woman and grief” by x1klima, CC BY-ND 2.0

My response (paraphrasing here):

Like any normal human being does. They feel grief, rage, disbelief, compassion, and other normal human emotions.

Many might want to offer their thoughts and/or prayers for the individuals, families, and communities affected, but “thoughts and prayers” have now been weaponized by activists who insist that the only appropriate response to mass shootings is gun control right now. Which, of course, has been politicized as “common sense.”

It was a very interesting question to ask, but an important one, and I was glad that I had the opportunity to answer it as the producer seemed as if he had genuinely never thought of my answer.

Light Over Heat #29: Just Say “I Don’t Know”

In this week’s “Light Over Heat” video, I reflect on the significance of a moment in my interview with CNN’s John Avlon for his show Reality Check in which he asked me a question and I answered, “I don’t know.” This part of our pre-recorded interview was included in what was eventually broadcast. At first, I thought it made me look bad, but in retrospect I realized it taught an important lesson: the power and importance of saying “I don’t know.”

I am reminded of Jon Meacham’s commencement address at Wake Forest University a few years ago when he said reason requires that you accept you may be wrong. Reason also requires you to admit when you don’t know something rather than pretending to know everything. Both requirements facilitate light over heat.

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Gun Owners’ Views of “Good Guys with Guns”

Today NPR and Ipsos released the results of a KnowledgePanel poll of 1,022 adults who own at least one gun. It was conducted from June 15 to 21 in the wake of the mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde. The margin of error is +/- 3.3 percentage points.

There are a number of interesting findings, but here I want to highlight just two of them.

In light of my recent argument that we should retire the NRA slogan, “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” I was interested to see gun owners split pretty evenly on whether they agree with the statement. 51% of all gun owners agree with the statement, but as the survey shows for various beliefs and attitudes, there is a stark partisan divide: fully 69% of Republican gun owners agree, but only 19% of Democrat gun owners, with Independent gun owners leaning more toward the Democrat side than the Republican, with 44% agreeing.

Screen cap from
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Light Over Heat #28: Examining a Study of Permitless Carry Laws and Officer-Involved Shootings

NOTE: Since I recorded this video, I published an analysis of this study and one other study on Stephen Gutowski’s gun news reporting site, The Reload. The article is only available to subscribers, but a subscription is well worth the cost.

This week I look at a study that purports to show that the shift to permitless carry laws from 2014 to 2020 is associated with a rise in the number of officer-involved shootings of civilians.

The idea is that permitless carry creates more of a perceived threat among law enforcement officers, leading to more officer-involved shootings (OIS).

The paper’s abstract reads, “On average, Permitless CCW adopting states saw a 12.9% increase in the OIS victimization rate or an additional 4 OIS victimizations per year, compared to what would have happened had law adoption not occurred.”

But according to a press release announcing the article, an increase in officer involved shootings was only found in 4 of 11 states that went to permitless carry during the study period.

So, despite the headline, in a majority of states that went permitless, there was NO increase in the number of officer-involved shootings compared to the synthetic control states. Here again we see what I call “the problem with averages.”

New “Light Over Heat” videos are released on YouTube every Wednesday, so please surf over to my YouTube channel and SUBSCRIBE to follow, RING THE BELL to receive notifications, and SHARE so others can learn about this work.

The Woman’s Gun Pamphlet: A Primer on Handguns (1975)

TL:DR Because I had then lost this document, and so I do not lose it again, I am posting a PDF of The Woman’s Gun Pamphlet: A Primer on Handguns.

The pamphlet is notable for being published in 1975 by an anonymous “group of women who have spent our lives living in danger of attack from men.”

Thanks to Kathy Jackson (a.k.a., “The Cornered Cat”), a thought leader on women in gun culture, for finding her copy and sending it to me.

For more on the reasons I needed this document recently, please read on. . .

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