When I sat down to write the brief show notes for the YouTube episode, I ended up spending 9 hours writing a 3,500 systematic response. Which is probably too much to ask of most people. So, here is the TL:DR or Cliff’s Notes version of that post. If you want to see any of these points elaborated or the documentation supporting them, please pop over to the original post.
TL:DR of this TL:DR I have learned very different lessons from firearms classes than Harel Shapira.
The title, of course, is provocative and the essay certainly provoked considerable attention on my social media feeds. My gun-skeptic friends had all of their biases about Gun Culture 2.0 confirmed, while my gun-sympathetic friends didn’t recognize themselves in Shapira’s characterization.
As usual, I tried to translate between these two different perspectives, but 140 characters doesn’t allow for much nuance.
So, in addition to 11 minutes of more free-flowing “Light Over Heat” video comments, this blog post presents the points I would like to make more systematically.
TL:DR I have learned very different lessons from firearms classes than Harel Shapira.
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.
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.
The Dana Carvey SNL character “Grumpy Old Man” has always been a favorite of mine, especially the tagline, “I like things the way they used to be.”
Now, I am not a full-on Luddite when it comes to technology. I got my first computer (Apple IIc) when I went to college in 1986. Got my first laptop (a Grid) in 1988. I was sending emails over our IBM DEC Vax system when the Loma Prieta earthquake hit the SF Bay area in 1989. And so on.
But I am not typically an early adopter of new technology. So, I wasn’t very interested in AI chatbots when they began to hit the news this spring. But when Google offered me the opportunity to try their Bard AI chatbot, I signed up.
When I got access to it recently, I honestly didn’t know what I would use it for. But it helpfully gave some ideas, including offering to help sketch out a blog post. Naturally, I thought of what I might want to have it outline.
I have presented my work dozens of times in the 30 years since my first academic conference presentation in 1992. I had never missed a scheduled presentation until this year, when I could not attend a session (organized by Nicholas Buttrick and including Tara Warner and Emmy Betz) at the annual meeting of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science due to my father’s death.
My topic was “Gun Culture 2.0 and the Changing Face of Gun Owners in America.” What I was going to talk about was not new to me, but I was excited to bring my ideas about guns and gun culture to a new audience.
If you are new to my work, if you want a refresher, or ICYMI, you can get an idea of my approach to this topic both in writing and video.
Two YouTube videos from my “Light Over Heat” channel follow. The first is a 15 minute presentation I made to the Outdoor Writers Association of American in October 2021, and the second is the third Light Over Heat video I posted in January 2022. A couple of links to my writing on the issue are included as well.
Can we use the social media echo chamber to escape the echo chambers we all live in? I try to do this by maintaining an ideologically diverse set of friends and followers on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA – the liberal Lutheran denomination in the US) is planning to issue considering [correction 2/26/23] a statement on gun violence and the LEN wants to inform that work. So I was invited to join them at their 31st annual gathering at the famous Palmer House in Chicago to discuss “Guns, Violence, and Security in the U.S.: What Might the ELCA Say Now?”
I don’t post much about guns and electoral/party politics on my blogs because I find them frustrating and impediments to understanding gun culture. But I was visiting one of my best friends recently and talking about paths forward for my gun culture book. One path we discussed was engaging conventional gun politics more directly.
A fellow sociologist, my friend is a left-leaning centrist who has become a political junkie of sorts in recent years. This includes consuming a healthy diet not just of liberals like Alex Wagner and Nicolle Wallace on MSNBC but also the ideas of conservatives via media like the Michael Steele Podcast and Charlie Sykes’ The Bulwark.
He mentioned during our discussion that I should look at the brief bit about guns in Republican strategist Rick Wilson’s 2018 book, Everything Trump Touches Dies.
Wilson’s bottom line: “Americans fucking love guns” (p. 75).