Light Over Heat #2: Big Denominators and Estimates of Gun Ownership in the United States

In this second “Light Over Heat with Professor David Yamane” video I think about the importance of big denominators in understanding guns and gun owners in the United States, and explain why surveys tend to underestimate the rate of gun ownership.

Accounting for under-reporting of gun ownership in surveys, I conclude it’s possible that 40% of all American adults own a gun, which would be over 100 million people.

That is a mighty large denominator to use when thinking about how normal guns and gun owners are, which was the topic of “Light Over Heat” Video #1 last week.

New “Light Over Heat” videos are released on YouTube every Wednesday, so please surf over to my YouTube channel and SUBSCRIBE to follow and RING THE BELL to receive notifications.

Light Over Heat Video #1: Just How Normal Are Guns and Gun Owners, Anyway?

In this first “Light Over Heat with Professor David Yamane” video I take up the question, “Just how normal are guns and gun owners, anyway?”

Drawing on data on negative outcomes with guns as a proportion of the total number of guns owned in the US (400 million), the total number of gun owners (76.56 million), and the total number of gun owning households (51.44 million), I conclude that guns and gun owners are VERY NORMAL.

99.85% of guns, 99.21% of gun owners, and 99.82% of gun owning households will not be involved in any fatalities, non-fatal injuries, or violent victimizations involving guns on any given day. The vast majority of American gun owners do perfectly normal things with their guns.

The basis for the data I use and calculations I make in this video can be found in the associated blog post on my Gun Culture 2.0 blog.

New “Light Over Heat” videos are released on YouTube every Wednesday, so please surf over to my YouTube channel and SUBSCRIBE to follow and RING THE BELL to receive notifications.

2021 Top 10 Most Viewed Posts on Gun Curious

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, I remain committed to posting here about issues relating to guns for people across the political and gun ownership spectra.

Unlike the Gun Culture 2.0 blog, which saw a dramatic decline in readership, in 2021 Gun Curious received almost exactly the same number of visitors and page views as it did in 2020.

You can see the Top 10 most viewed posts on Gun Culture 2.0 to get a sense of how the content differs.

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New Year, New Channel: Announcing “Light Over Heat” on YouTube

Happy New Year! I hope everyone has some good plans for 2022. Let me briefly tell you about one of mine.

Although I posted nearly as many times on my two blogs (Gun Culture 2.0 and Gun Curious) in 2021 as I did in 2020 (129 posts vs. 135 posts), combined visitors to the blogs declined by nearly 30% in 2021 and page views decreased by 44%.

It is certainly possible that people are no longer buying what I am selling regarding guns and gun culture. But other bloggers tell me their numbers are down also. Which makes me think the heyday of blogs is past and I need to find a new medium through which to educate people and enrich collective conversations about this complex and controversial issue.

So in 2022 I am re-launching my YouTube channel as “Light Over Heat with Professor David Yamane.”

“Light Over Heat” has long been my motto in approaching guns, a topic on which there is too much hostility and not enough insight. To bring light over heat, every Wednesday I will post a short (4-5 minute) video to YouTube in which I take up some important question or issue in understanding guns and gun culture.

Please surf over my channel on YouTube, hit the SUBSCRIBE button to follow me on this adventure, and RING THE BELL so you get notifications of new video releases.

If there are questions you would like answered or issues you would like addressed, please let me know directly or leave them in the comments. Thank you!

Results from the 2021 National Firearms Survey

A summary of results from the 2021 National Firearms Survey was posted to the SSRN site back in July. I confess to missing it the first time around because I thought it was the same National Firearms Survey that was fielded by scholars at Northeastern and Harvard Universities this year (results from which about firearm purchasing during the COVID pandemic I commented on recently).

It turns out this is a separate National Firearms Survey, fielded by William English, a political economist at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. I’m quite intrigued by the existence of this survey because I have never heard of William English in the field of gun studies and there is nothing in his scholarly background that indicates he would do work in this area.

To say this is certainly not a criticism of William English. People would have said the same about me 10 years ago, also. He seems to be an outsider to the field and I hope that will allow him to bring fresh perspectives to it.

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Author Chad Kautzer’s Reply to “Boston Review’s Magnificently Consistent Takes on Gun Culture”

Below you will find a comment written by one of the authors whose work I criticized in a recent post, philosopher Chad Kautzer. Because many people miss (or actively avoid reading) the comments, I offered to move his comments to a free-standing post as a reply to my original.

As Kautzer notes, authors feel honored when people take time to read and think about their work, even when you don’t think the reader gets it quite right, or even if you think the reader gets it quite wrong. I feel the same here, and posting his vigorous reply fits in with my overall goal in attempting to understand guns and gun culture in America: LIGHT OVER HEAT.

My original post (as evidenced by a mistake Kautzer notes) and Kautzer’s reply were both written fairly quickly, and so Kautzer’s reply here appears as it was originally written to preserve that reality. Please read on.

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A Sociology of Firearms for the Twenty-First Century – Editor’s Introduction Now Available

Although the printed journal is not due out until February 2022, by the magic of the internet, the articles appearing in the special issue of Sociological Perspectives that I co-edited are now available online (though mostly pay-walled, sorry).

The Special Issue Editors’ Introduction that Trent Steidley and I wrote, A Sociology of Firearms for the Twenty-First Century, was published online last week.

Far from just a summary of the articles in the special issue, Trent and I tried to stand back and put those articles in a broader scholarly context that highlights why they are important to advancing a sociology of firearms for the twenty-first century.

Give it a read and let me know what you think. If you have trouble accessing the text, please let me know!

Sociology of Guns Field Trip to Gun Range, September 2021

Although the remnants of Hurricane Ida forced a last minute rescheduling, my Fall 2021 Sociology of Guns seminar students completed their mandatory field trip to the gun range on September 3rd.

This is the 7th time I have taught the course and the 7th successful field trip we have taken as a class. All the students left the range with the same number of holes in their bodies as they arrived with, plus some experience handling and shooting live firearms.

Although guns are always a Rorschach test of sorts and students’ preexisting understandings heavily influence the conclusions they draw about guns at the end of the course, having an experiential basis upon which to discuss firearms and shooting is foundational to our consideration of the role of guns in American society.

In the coming days, I will (as before) post some of the students’ field trip reflection essays on this blog. They have historically been among the most popular items I post, so stay tuned!

Sociology of Guns student firing a .22 pistol during field trip to Veterans Range, September 2021. Photo by David Yamane
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Sociology of Guns Module 1: Field Trip to Gun Range

As I prepare to teach my Sociology of Guns course Version 7.0, I thought I would post as much of the material for the different modules I am teaching this fall as possible.

Probably the most unique aspect of this course from the start has been the class trip to the gun range. Before we ever meet as a class or discuss any opinions, ideas, or scholarship on guns, students are REQUIRED to attend a field trip to the gun range. Once there, they are given the OPTION to try shooting.

The range field trip is such a highlight of the class for students, I joke that the course goes downhill after day 1.

Sociology of Guns Inaugural Student Field Trip to Gun Range, 2015. Photo by David Yamane
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Great Gun Buying Spree of 2020: Collected Works About

The COVID-19 pandemic compounded by the George Floyd protests and riots mixed with the boogaloo/CW2/Great Awakening V leading up to a hotly contested presidential election created a literally unprecedented gun buying spree in 2020.

This post collects various blog posts, stories, and studies I have come across that I think have some value. If you know of other works to be included, please post them in the comments.

Empty gun case at store. Photo by Tamara Keel, https://booksbikesboomsticks.blogspot.com/

Gun Culture 2.0 and the Great Gun Buying Spree of 2020. An essay I wrote for Discourse magazine connecting the spree to the broader culture of guns in America.

COVID-19 and Guns Video Series by Duke Center for Firearms Law. Including an interview with yours truly.

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