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.
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.
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.
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.
In the wake of the invasion of the U.S. Capitol Building last week by supporters of President Donald Trump, philosopher Firmin DeBrabander (author of Do Guns Make Us Free? Democracy and the Armed Society) pointed a finger in The Atlanticat the gun rights movement, holding it responsible for promoting “insurrectionist fever dreams.”
The many typical gaffes in the article notwithstanding, my major reservation with DeBrabander’s argument is similar to my reservations about many news stories and scholarly articles about gun culture: It paints with too broad a brush.
I launched this blog in February 2019 because my Gun Culture 2.0 blog has come to be read almost exclusively by people who are invested in gun culture. Although they are an important audience for my work, I also want to translate what I am learning about guns to the gun curious — those interested in but unsure about guns. People in the middle. Those who are not already 100% convinced of their views.
Although I am not yet convinced that I am reaching such an audience, and readership of this blog lags well behind Gun Culture 2.0, I remain committed to posting here about issues relating to guns for people across the political and gun ownership spectra.
Early in 2020 I wrote an entry on this blog asking “Who are the liberal gun owners?” I was responding to media interest in liberals who own guns in an election year. In response to an inquiry from the Associated Press, I did some quick and dirty analyses using data from the National Opinion Research Center’s General Social Survey, but was left wanting to know more.
I was fortunate to find two sociology graduate students from Baylor University to collaborate with me on a more systematic analysis of these same data, Jesse DeDeyne and Alonso Alonso Octavio Aravena Méndez. Together, we recently published our article in the journal Sociological Inquiry.
Although the topic is grim — suicide — I am very excited to welcome to my Sociology of Guns seminar today two guests who have unique perspectives on the issue. Michael Sodini is founder and President of Walk the Talk America (WTTA), and Rob Pincus is a trustee of the organization.
WTTA was founded in 2018 with the goal of reducing suicides and other negative outcomes associated with firearms. I have been remiss in not writing about the organization before now. I actually spent some time at the WTTA booth at the Shooting Hunting Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in January 2019, and Pincus (making his 3rd consecutive class appearance this year) spoke in my Sociology of Guns seminar in Spring 2019 about the issue of suicide and the work of WTTA.
The topic of Module 7 of my Sociology of Guns seminar is “diversity in gun culture.” Scholars have done a woeful job of capturing this diversity — including the major axes of difference on which sociologists tend to focus such as gender, race, and sexuality, as well as religious and political differences — making it difficult even to assign published research on the topic for my students to read.
I am all the more pleased, therefore, to welcome two guests to my class this week who both embody and attempt to foster diversity within gun culture: Tiffany Johnson and Aqil Qadir of Citizens Safety Academy.