As someone who came from completely outside gun culture and became a gun owner later in life, I have tried often to find a middle ground between culture warriors on both sides of the Great American Gun Debates. That, in fact, is one of the purposes of this blog.
As I said earlier this year, one of my key discoveries in journeying through gun culture is that “guns are normal, and normal people use guns.”
Although this could be seen as simply stating the obvious, many gun control advocates go beyond wanting “common sense” gun laws to prevent gun violence. They are not just against gun violence, they are fundamentally against guns. A story in the New York Times on the recent debates over open carry in stores highlights this yet again.
Whenever dramatic events happen in the US involving guns, I hear from the media. Not a ton of media, alas, since my overarching position that “guns are normal and normal people use guns” doesn’t fit most media narratives following dramatic events. And, to be clear, I am not an expert in gun violence or any other unlawful possession/use of firearms.
To the extent that I know anything in particular about guns, it is about what I have been calling “Gun Culture 2.0.” So, for those interested in a sweeping overview of American gun culture, here are my broad (not deep) thoughts.
Open Source Defense is an online platform (website/blog/digital newsletter) dedicated to defending gun rights by enlivening, enlightening, and enriching the discussion of guns — and gun culture itself — in the US.
I enjoy the materials they are producing, and recommend them to the gun curious, for a couple of reasons. First, regardless of your political position on guns, they are a good source of information about what a pro-gun position in the US looks like without the additional culture war rhetoric that plagued the now deceased NRATV. No smashing TVs with sledgehammers or burning newspapers here.
Earlier this year, philosopher Michael Austin posted a short reflection on “Virtue and Guns” on his Psychology Today blog “Ethics for Everyone.” If the title didn’t already grab my attention, the subtitle would have: “How ‘Gun Culture 2.0’ can harm character.”
Even if some people hadn’t mistaken Austin’s argument about GC2.0 for mine, I still would have wanted to respond. He told me he would post a response if I wrote one, and he is true to his word.
Read “A Counterargument to ‘Virtue and Guns'” and let us both know what you think in the comments here.
As noted in my acknowledgement, my essay benefited from input from John Correia, John Johnston, Randy Miyan, Mike Pannone, and Patrick Toner.
In April, I gave the lunchtime talk at the National Firearms Law Seminar in Indianapolis. More than anything I’ve written or said, “Gun Culture 2.0, or How a Liberal Professor Became an Armed American” offered a very personal perspective on how I got into guns and the study of gun culture. I also discussed some of the many lessons I have learned on my journey so far.
Thanks to John Correia (and Jon Macek) of Active Self Protection, a video of my talk exists, and thanks to Robin Lindner of RLI Media, that video is ready for the world to see.
Leave a comment to let me know your story or your reactions to my story of gun curiosity.
I am heading to Indianapolis tomorrow for the National Rifle Association Annual Meetings and Exhibits (NRAAM). It will be interesting to see what the vibe is surrounding the organization and (some of) its members, as the NRA has been dealing with some very public, self-inflicted wounds recently.
The NRA has long been the most visible and most vocal champion of gun rights in the U.S., and so its future if of great concern to many gun owners. Some gun owners unhappy with the current state of affairs are exercising the option to exit the NRA, pending some fundamental change, while others are staying and using their voice to foster positive change.