Sex and Guns: Safer not Safe

I just finished a draft of my book chapter on “Pascal’s Wager and Firearms.” It’s all about risk, risk assessment, and risk management in relation to firearms. From there I am rolling into a chapter on negative outcomes, which will of course highlight the work of the Professor of Negative Outcomes, Claude Werner.

A Tweet I saw yesterday directed my attention to an op-ed written by a leading suicide researcher created a nice bridge between these two chapters. It had to do with preventing gun “violence” (to include suicide and accidents) via safe storage. For me the most interesting part was the last paragraph, so either read or skip to the end and find the following:

Firearms are here to stay. Just as we encourage safe sex rather than abstinence to reduce the burden of teenage pregnancy, we can encourage safe firearm storage rather than simply discouraging firearm ownership altogether in our efforts to reduce gun violence.

Michael Anestis

Spoof ad from Fernet Branca Instagram feed @fernetbranca
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Is a Life with Less Risk Better?

I am a risk-averse person. When a friend from high school told me he was thinking of leaving his secure job with an established software company to join a startup, I thought it was too risky. He had a young family to worry about and the startup’s business model was terrible. Why would anyone wait to receive DVD movie rentals in the mail when they could get them right away at the many Blockbuster Video stores on their way to or from work? Cryptocurrency? No, thank you. Apple stock? Overpriced. I don’t drive fast, don’t ride my bike without a helmet, don’t jump out of planes or off cliffs, don’t like boats or ATVs, don’t drink to excess, don’t pick fights. Whenever possible, I try to limit my exposure to unnecessary risk.

At first glance, the following quote from sociologist and gun critic Jonathan Metzl would seem right up my alley:

Risk helps people identify the possibility of peril in their loved ones and is something that we all want to avoid in our own lives. Risk implies peril, hazard, and the possibility of loss. Risk, as anthropologist Lochlann Jain puts it, is a form of American autobiography—inasmuch as it reveals a great deal about our relationships with cars, machines, and other objects and technologies. As a doctor or as a researcher, I believe that a life with less risk is a life that is often longer, happier, and more secure. Risk is something that we should want to study, identify, and, ultimately, prevent.

Jonathan Metzl, Dying of Whiteness, p. 50
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Despite strong gun sales, NRA membership apparently shrank in 2020

Evidence that many people may be withdrawing their financial support for the National Rifle Association given its recent troubles.

Trent Steidley

2020 was a gangbusters year for gun sales with a likely 20 million total gun sales. And the gun industry has been willing to say this is a strong sign of future support for gun rights going forward. An August press release from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) even inferred that at least 5 million new gun owners had been created by late 2020 and that “These first-time buyers represent a group of people who, until now, were agnostic regarding firearm ownership. That’s rapidly changing, and these Americans are taking hold of their God-given right to keep and bear arms and protect themselves and their loved ones.” So does it follow that strong gun sales in 2020 are going to translate into strong(er) support for gun rights from the public?

That is probably what the leadership of the The National Rifle Association (NRA) would be hoping for. The NRA…

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2nd Anniversary of “Gun Curious”

Yesterday was the second anniversary of this blog. I began Gun Curious as a complement to my longer-running Gun Culture 2.0 blog because I wanted an outlet for my observations on guns and gun culture that would be of interest to those who simply wanted to know or think more about these issues, especially those whose minds were not already made up.

In two years and 125 posts, I have found what I should have already known: that confirmation bias reigns supreme in real life and on the web.

Because of this, I appreciate all the more the modest number of dedicated readers here who share my curiosity about the significant role guns play in our individual and social lives. I am looking forward to sharing more over the next 365 days.

If you know of someone who shares your gun curiosity, please encourage them to follow the blog via email or the Gun Curious Facebook page.

The author shooting at the Colonial Williamsburg Musket Range, 2017.

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Gun Culture 2.0 and the Great Gun Buying Spree of 2020

Late in 2020 an editor from the online magazine Discourse contacted me to see if I wanted to write anything about my work on American gun culture for them. The invitation provided an excellent opportunity for me to formalize some of my scattered thoughts on the Great Gun-Buying Spree of 2020. I quickly agreed.

It was published recently so have a look, and read more after the break.

Screen cap of Discourse magazine essay on Gun Culture 2.0
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Was the Storming of the U.S. Capitol Building an “Insurrection”?

In early January 2021, my work was disrupted by a text message from a friend: “They are storming the capitol.” It took me a moment to figure out who “they” were, but I soon made the connection. They were people gathered for the March for Trump rally in Washington, DC. Formally organized by Women For America First, the rally included a motley crew of people wanting to “Save America” by overturning Donald J. Trump’s defeat by Joseph R. Biden in the November 2020 presidential election. Joining run-of-the mill members of “MAGA nation” in forcefully entering the U.S. Capitol Building were followers of movements like Stop the Steal, the QAnon conspiracy, Proud Boys, Nick Fuentes’s Groyper Army, Boogaloo Bois, Oath Keepers, and III%ers.

As they were attempting to disrupt a meeting of Congress that was certifying Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory, many have called the event an insurrection.

But was it?

NOTE: I am not an attorney, nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, so nothing in this post should be construed as giving legal advice or as constituting comprehensive and accurate interpretation of the law.

DC Capitol Storming by TapTheForwardAssist, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
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A Woman’s Place in Gun Advertisements – New Study Posted

TLDR: I just posted a publicly-accessible pre-print of a book chapter, “A Woman’s Place in Gun Advertisements: The American Rifleman, 1920-2019,” co-authored with recent Wake Forest University graduate (and current George Washington University Law School 1L) Riley Satterwhite and my son Paul Yamane (Wake Forest ’16). The chapter is scheduled to appear in the forthcoming Second Edition of the book, Understanding American Gun Culture.

For longer than I care to remember, I have been working on an analysis of the portrayal of women in gun advertising. I have posted some elementary thoughts about this along the way, including on Crimson’s Trace’s interesting banner at the 2016 NRA annual meeting and a pair of ads they ran in The American Rifleman in 2009, as well as a TV ad for the M&P Shield placed on Sportsman’s Channel by Smith & Wesson.

Although gun culture is typically characterized as embodying hegemonic masculinity, looking at advertisements over a 100 year time period complicates the gender story. To wit: As soon as I embarked on my study of the rise of self-defense (Gun Culture 2.0) using ads in The American Rifleman (and later Guns), I noticed some surprising appearances of women in those magazines. One example I first posted about in 2015 (did I mention I have been at this for a while?) was an ad for Peters Cartridges featuring a Lady Champion shooter which ran in January 1937.

Peters Cartridge Advertisement in The American Rifleman, January 1937
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2021: A Sneak Peek of My Year Ahead

I am trying to break the grip the current moment has on my attention, and thought a good way to do that would be to have a brief look at my year ahead.

For the spring semester, I am on a research leave, meaning I am excused from my normal teaching and service obligations as a faculty member at Wake Forest University. My main goal during this leave is to make serious progress on my (long-awaited?) book on American gun culture.

I am going to try to wrap up as many ongoing projects as possible in January so that beginning in February the bulk of my attention and energy will be on the book. Among these ongoing projects is a short book on the history of concealed carry laws and their implementation. The book will be available as a print and eBook through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, other online channels, and by special order through local book stores.

I will also be giving free electronic copies to everyone who supports me as a member on Buy Me a Coffee ($5/month or $60/year).

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