Light Over Heat #15: From Gun Research to Gun Policy

Last week I attended a workshop at the University of Connecticut in Hartford for authors contributing to a special issue of The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science on gun violence prevention. Of course, my specialty is in gun culture not gun violence, so I was asked to speak about the evolution of American gun culture.

But I also listened to 13 other presentations, 12 of which did center on gun violence, by some of the top researchers studying this topic. I learned quite a bit, some of which I will be sharing on this blog as I have the opportunity to process it.

This week’s “Light Over Heat” YouTube video provides an initial reflection after the first day of the workshop. I note in particular the difference between how researchers speak among themselves about their findings and how advocates take those findings into the policy realm.

Simply put: Research is nuanced, advocacy is blunt.

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Light Over Heat #14: The Homo Sapiens Projectile Club – Explained

In Light Over Heat Ep 11, I wore a Homo Sapiens Projectile Club t-shirt. You can buy the t-shirt or hoodie in the Liberal Gun Owners online store.

The idea underlying the t-shirt can be found in Pillar 1 of The Liberal Gun Owners Lens. This is the first of 4 planned pillars analyzing the relationship between humans and firearms.

Pillar 1 focuses on what the author, Randy Miyan (Executive Director of the Liberal Gun Owners), calls the human-weapon relationship, the reality that underlies the Homo Sapiens Projectile Club.

In this week’s “Light Over Heat” video, I connect the History Channel competition show “Top Shot” to the cultural and anthropological nomality of guns for Homo sapiens as a species.

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Light Over Heat #11: Chainsaws, Guns, and the Rural-Urban Divide

In Episode 9 of “Light Over Heat,” I discussed guns as tools, and quoted a Forbes magazine writer who criticized guns by way of an analogy to chainsaws:

Some people say guns are tools — but nobody buys 10 chain saws in varying colors and speeds.

Elizabeth MacBride, Forbes (1 March 2019)

This brought the chainsaw nuts out of the woodwork! As a suburbanite who doesn’t own a chainsaw, I had no idea how many “Chainsaw Super Owners” there are out there.

This got me to thinking about chainsaws, guns, and the rural-urban divide in America, the subject of “Light Over Heat” #11.

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Light Over Heat #9: Guns Are Tools, But Not Just Tools

People in the gun culture often talk about guns as tools, and those outside gun culture reject the idea that guns are just another tool. As is often the case with guns, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

In Episode 9 of “Light Over Heat,” I argue that guns are indeed tools, but they are not just tools. They are tools that are by design dangerous.

As the smart guys at Open Source Defense say, this is a feature, not a bug. And as gun training old head Tom Givens puts it, “if they weren’t they wouldn’t be useful to us at all.”

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The Standard Model of Explaining the Irrationality of Defensive Gun Ownership

Last year I was invited to contribute to a special issue of The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science by the editors Cassandra Crifasi, Jennifer Dineen, and Kerri Raissian. The theme of this issue is “Gun Violence in America: What Works and What is Possible.”

Specifically, the editors invited me “to write a paper overviewing the evolution of American gun culture – from hunting to gun culture 2.0. Your scholarship in this area will help readers of the special issue understand the role guns play in American culture and how that role has evolved (or not) over time.”

I am always flattered but such invitations, though perhaps I should not be. Maybe the first dozen people they asked said “No”? More likely is the reality that not many scholars have focused their work on gun culture per se, as opposed to adverse outcomes with guns, which is the primary focus of this special issue.

As usual, my participation in these sorts of enterprises reminds me of the Sesame Street song I remember so well from my childhood.

My contribution will focus on the rise of Gun Culture 2.0, the self-defense core of American gun culture today. But I also want to engage what I call “The Standard Model of Explaining the Irrationality of Defensive Gun Ownership” – the primary way gun studies scholars approach Gun Culture 2.0.

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Light Over Heat #6: How Many Americans Own AR-15 Style Rifles and Large-Capacity Magazines?

In Episode 3 of “Light Over Heat,” I mentioned a 2021 National Firearms Survey by Georgetown University Professor William English. In Episode 6, I discuss a couple of interesting findings in that survey.

Among the unique qualities of Professor English’s National Firearms Survey is that he asked respondents whether they owned AR-15 style rifles or large-capacity magazines (holding 10+ rounds of ammunition).

English finds that 30.2% of gun owners have owned AR-15 style rifles (around 25 million people), and 48% have owned 10+ capacity magazines (approximately 40 million people).

(From Episode 2 of “Light Over Heat,” remember these are very conservative estimates of ownership rates given the underreporting of gun ownership in surveys.)

Beyond simply being interesting empirically, these findings are relevant to the legal question of whether certain firearms are in “common use.”

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

Light Over Heat #3: The Changing Face of Gun Owners Today

In this third “Light Over Heat with Professor David Yamane” video I explore what two 2021 National Firearms Surveys tell us about the diverse and changing face of gun owners today.

The first survey, Georgetown business professor William English’s 2021 National Firearms Survey, highlights the diversity of contemporary gun owners.

The second survey, a 2021 National Firearms Survey by scholars at Northeastern and Harvard University, highlights the diversity of those who became new gun owners from January 2019 to April 2021.

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

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, RING THE BELL to receive notifications, and SHARE so others can learn about this work.

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, RING THE BELL to receive notifications, and SHARE so others can learn about this work.

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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