“It’s fun. It’s a sport. And it’s a skill.”Participant in Open Source Shooting Sports range event
It’s no secret that early in my research on American gun culture, I took Michael Bane’s idea of a Gun Culture 2.0 and brought it into scholarly discussions of guns. This has been a mixed blessing.
The concept of Gun Culture 2.0 is mostly positive because it allows me to convey a broad pattern of evolution in the center of gravity of American gun culture.
But, as the literary critic Kenneth Burke famously said, “Every way of seeing is a way of not seeing. Every insight has its own special blindness.”
The downside of the concept of Gun Culture 2.0 is that it can homogenize both gun culture generally and Gun Culture 2.0 itself. In reality, there are many American gun cultures today which co-exist, sometimes more and sometimes less easily. And Gun Culture 2.0 itself is internally diverse.
Unfortunately, associating recreational shooting with Gun Culture 1.0 can give the sense that it is passe. I sometimes get so caught up in Gun Culture 2.0 that I need reminders that it is not.
Indeed, in my 2019 presentation at the National Firearms Law Seminar, I outlined three lessons I learned in my journey through American gun culture. I have spent a great deal of time thinking and writing about the first and third:
(1) Guns are normal, and normal people use guns.
(3) Gun Culture 2.0 is inclusive.
The second lesson sits uneasily, like a middle child, between the other two:
(2) Shooting is fun and challenging.
Although I have written a couple of times about “shooting is fun,” a recent field research experience reminded me of this essential reality of guns and gun owners in America.
Since classes ended this spring, I have been in Northern California helping my newly-widowed mother and celebrating a landmark birthday for my oldest sister. I haven’t had too many free days in my schedule, but as luck has it, one of them coincided with a very interesting shooting event presented by a new organization, Open Source Shooting Sports (OS3).
“APA [Asian Pacific American] Heritage Month x Mother’s Day Weekend Celebration” was OS3’s inaugural event, held on the Saturday before Mother’s Day at the United Sportsmen Inc. range in Concord, California. The group’s abbreviation, OS3, is a play on computer “operating systems.” This and the “open source” idea that comes from computer programming is reflective of its founder, Trish (Resplendor) Sargentini. An automation engineer in the biotech industry, she is just a bit nerdy.
Sargentini’s goal for the event, which she was beta testing, and for OS3 generally, is to introduce people to broader recreational uses of firearms. In doing so, she hopes to de-stigmatize shooting, make guns seem less scary, and highlight that gun culture is “not a monolith,” either in terms of purposes or people.
In a word, she hopes to show people that shooting is fun and challenging.
That’s a lesson I had learned early in my journey through American gun culture, but one I needed to be reminded of given my strong focus on the culture of self-defense.
Learn more about Open Source Shooting Sports here and on Instagram at @os3org.
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