I’ve had some personal and professional setbacks so far in 2023, but I’ve also had some amazing opportunities to bring light to culture war over guns in America. I’m grateful for that. In this post, I want to share some of what I have planned for the rest of 2023 for anyone interested.
Light Over Heat YouTube videos: Having taken a longer than expected hiatus then returned and consulted with my guide John Correia of Active Self Protection, I am going to keep posting these short videos on various topics concerning guns and gun culture. They may not be as regular as I hope or as polished, but I believe there is an audience for them and they certainly support my educational goals.
Sociology of Guns syllabus: First up is putting together the syllabus for Sociology of Guns V9.0 that I will be teaching at Wake Forest University this fall. I’m doing this a bit earlier than normal because I’ve been asked by The Conversation to contribute a piece about my course to their “Uncommon Courses” series. I’m really excited to share what I’ve learned about having productive conversations about guns through teaching this course.
University of Wyoming College of Law Firearms Research Center workshop: Next I will be headed to Fort Worth, Texas for a workshop sponsored by the new Firearms Research Center at the University of Wyoming College of Law (in conjunction with the Duke University Center for Firearms Law). I will be presenting the chapter of my book-in-progress on Gun Culture 2.0 that addresses the evolution and contours of concealed carry laws in the US.
I’m excited to learn more about firearms law from actual legal scholars and historians, especially in the dynamic new post-Bruen world we’re living in.
Evangelical Lutheran Church in American (ELCA) gun trauma statement consultation: When I return from Texas I will be consulting on the development of an ELCA social message on gun trauma in the U.S. Regular readers of this blog will know in January I presented a paper to a gathering of the Lutheran Ethicist Network in Chicago (subsequently published as “Understanding and Misunderstanding American Gun Culture and Violence” in the Journal of Lutheran Ethics).
I agreed to continue serving as a consultant because I believe the group was interested in having brave and empathetic conversations about guns – something we need more of.
Vail Symposium Conversations on Controversial Issues – Gun Violence: Shortly after the ELCA consultation, I will be packing my bags for Vail, Colorado. Not for a vacation but to serve as a panelist on gun violence in America as part of the Vail Symposium’s “Conversations on Controversial Issues” moderated by Clay Jenkinson. I’m excited to be part of the Vail Symposium because it asks a question I think is vitally important to consider: “How can we get beyond the usual Culture Wars argument—’Do Something about Guns!’ and ‘From My Cold Dead Hand’—to a rational, reasonable, nuanced, and mutually-respectful national conversation about gun violence?”
Beginning our discussions of guns with our commonalities rather than our differences is something I have been thinking about more and more in the last year.
After a hiatus for a travel travel excursion to Yellowstone National Park, I have some important field research events scheduled.
National African American Gun Association (NAAGA) National Convention: First, I will be attending the NAAGA National Convention in Atlanta at the end of July. I have long been arguing that Gun Culture 2.0 is inclusive in ways that previous gun cultures were not and I think NAAGA is leading the way on this front. I’ve met some of their leaders — Philip Smith, Douglas Jefferson, Chad King — but I’m looking forward to spending even more time with them and the members.
They certainly add nuance to the master scholarly narrative of guns as racist in American society.
Avidity Arms PD-10 manufacturing and testing: Some time in July or August I plan to visit and learn more about Rob Pincus’s pistol project, Avidity Arms. The company manufacturing the PD-10 pistol is just up the road from me in Fletcher, NC. Way back in October 2017 I had a chance to shoot a prototype, serial number D00001, so I’m looking forward to seeing the version that came to market, how it is made, and how it shoots.
Sociology of Guns V9.0 launch: Sociology of Guns V9.0 kicks off in late August. As noted above, the syllabus is still in progress, but I will definitely be taking the class to the gun range, as usual, and have some guest speakers in from out of town. The line-up is still tentative at this point, but I’m looking at Randy Miyan (my fellow member of the Homo Sapiens Projectile Club and executive director of the Liberal Gun Owners), Greg Ellifritz (retired police officer and training guru), Rob Pincus and Michael Sodini (responsible gun ownership and suicide prevention advocates via Walk the Talk America), Mathew Littman (executive director of gun violence prevention organization 97Percent), and others who have visited class before and some who have not.
I’m grateful that so many are willing to contribute to the class largely at their own expense.
Liberal Gun Club National Convention: After getting the semester started, I will be head to Vegas Baby! Not for the gambling and nightlife, but for the Liberal Gun Club’s National Convention. Like my trip to Atlanta for the NAAGA National Convention, this field work experience is going to be vital as I craft my Gun Culture 2.0 book as a counterweight to the dominant narrative of of American gun culture as a story of democracy-destroying right-wing fanatics.
American Academy of Religion (AAR) annual meeting for congregational security project: It’s hard even for me to remember sometimes that I have a long-delayed but still ongoing project on congregational security, funded by a grant from the Louisville Institute back in 2018. After getting the project started, we were disrupted by COVID and its aftermath, by my collaborator’s retirement, and my own personal challenges. But we continue to believe that the issue is pressing and people want to know more about it, so we’re going to meet up at the AAR annual meeting in San Antonio in November to finish out the grant and get some momentum going forward.
Other goals for 2023: By the end of this year I hope to have two things accomplished with respect to my book projects.
For my book Gun Curious, which is being written with a general (non-academic) audience in mind, I hope to have secured a publisher and finished the manuscript so the book can be out by next summer. That timing would be nice because I could hit the road with Sandy in our travel trailer to drive around the country hawking the book.
For my book Gun Culture 2.0, which is being written with an academic audience in mind, I hope to have secured a publisher and made good progress on finishing the manuscript. The academic publishing timeline is much longer, but if it would appear in late 2024 or early 2025, that would be most excellent.
Those goals are somewhat aspirational, but the encouragement I get from participating in events like those noted above, as well as from the small but committed audience of readers of this blog sustains me in these aspirations.
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