Talking About American Gun Culture, Mass Shootings, and Gun Control in the Wake of Uvalde on Newsy

I was invited on Newsy’s Morning Rush to talk about American gun culture, mass shootings, and gun control in the Wake of the Uvalde shootings.

As usual, I find myself trying to capture the complex reality of guns in the United States, and pointing out ways in which “things are not what they seem.” I can’t help it. I’m a sociologist.

They sent me the clip of my segment with them and I posted the 4-minute video to my “Light Over Heat” channel.

I wasn’t expecting it, but they mentioned my mini-book, Concealed Carry Revolution: Liberalizing the Right to Bear Arms in America (Updated Edition).

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 #18: Why Are Guns So Prominent in American Culture?

I was pleased that the online streaming news network “Newsy” asked to interview me for their nightly program “The Why.” They wanted to address the question, “Why is gun culture so prominent in the U.S.?”

I thought the introductory package they put together was pretty comprehensive and fair, and they allowed me a full five minutes to answer questions about the topic.

I hope my answers are interesting and coherent. Let me know either way.

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.

Chatting with a Gun Curious Podcaster

The animating idea of this blog is to speak (primarily) to those who are neither totally bought into the idea of guns nor totally opposed to it. That is, to the gun curious.

I recently had the opportunity to chat with just such a person. Mark McNease is a politically liberal gay man living in rural NJ. Mark found me because he is a member of the Liberal Gun Club (LGC), which syndicates this blog. He is a member of the LGC even though he is not a gun owner. Mark is part of roughly 1/3 of the population who don’t currently own guns but don’t rule them out. He is gun curious.

Mark recorded our conversation for his podcast, One Thing or Another (16 February 2022).

This is a very informative podcast not so much because of my answers but because of the host’s questions. A lot of people out there have the same questions about guns and gun culture as Mark, so I hope I answered them well.

Talking Gun Conversion with The Reverend Hunter

In October 2021, I traveled from North Carolina to Vermont to attend and present at the Outdoor Writers Association of America’s (OWAA) annual conference. After flying into Burlington, I had a 90-minute long shuttle bus ride to the Jay Peak Resort, near the Canadian border. On the ride, I listened to and participated in some friendly chatter with other conference attendees.

I would later see one particularly gregarious fellow from the shuttle a few times during the conference, including sharing some meals together. Toward the end of the conference, we realized we had something more in common than the OWAA.

It turns out that before he became The Reverend Hunter, my new colleague Tony Jones was a celebrity pastor of the “emerging church” movement in the evangelical wing of American Christianity. Before I became a gun scholar, I spent 20 years studying American religion. We had a mutual friend in one of my longtime colleagues in the sociology of religion, Gerardo Marti, co-author of The Deconstructed Church: Understanding Emerging Christianity, in which Jones figures prominently.

Screen cap of https://reverendhunter.com/
Continue reading

Boston Review’s Magnificently Consistent Takes on Gun Culture

I confess to not being a regular reader of the Boston Review but my Google alert this morning for both “gun owners” and “gun culture” pointed me to a recent essay published by political philosopher Chad Kautzer, “America as a Tactical Gun Culture.” I know Kautzer from having participated in a conference on guns with him at Amherst College back in 2017.

The essay is actually quite sweeping in scope and in detail connects a great many dots together, including Kyle Rittenhouse and vigilantism, Ferguson and the militarization of law enforcement, extra legal violence in the name of border security, Threepers and Oath Keepers, Lavoy Finicum and Civil War II, “Operation Wetback” and the NRA, Stand Your Ground and vigilante sovereignty, George Mason and Dick Heller, CSPOA and authoritarian populism, “racialized fears and patriarchal aspirations” driving Gun Culture 2.0, and others!

Kautzer’s fundamental argument is that “an armed white citizenry, working in tandem with law enforcement, has for centuries sustained white rule in the United States through legal and extralegal violence.” As white rule has been challenged over the past several decades, we see the “rise of a tactical gun culture” in response. It’s a variation on the same old song of America. Although it alone is not sufficient to sustain the old regime of racial domination, “it does cultivate the material and ideological conditions necessary for a return to an authoritarian legal and political order.”

The Boston Review’s algorithm also pointed me to three additional stories, all of which provide variations on Kautzer’s theme.

Continue reading

Increase Your Signal-to-Noise Ratio with Stephen Gutowski’s The Reload Podcast

In his excellent book, The Gun Gap, political scientist Mark Joslyn highlights the ways in which gun owners and non-owners live in very different social worlds. For example, non-owners are much more likely than owners to say none of their friends own guns.

Consequently, much of what non-owners know about what gun owners do and think comes from mass media, traditional and social. Exactly the worst places to learn about something that is complex and nuanced.

For gun skeptics and the gun curious who want to learn more about how (some) gun owners think, I recommend journalist Stephen Gutowski’s The Reload podcast. It’s available on all the regular podcast apps and also on YouTube.

A particularly useful recent episode included David French discussing the Rittenhouse trial and verdict.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Sex and Guns: Safer not Safe

I just finished a draft of my book chapter on “Pascal’s Wager and Firearms.” It’s all about risk, risk assessment, and risk management in relation to firearms. From there I am rolling into a chapter on negative outcomes, which will of course highlight the work of the Professor of Negative Outcomes, Claude Werner.

A Tweet I saw yesterday directed my attention to an op-ed written by a leading suicide researcher created a nice bridge between these two chapters. It had to do with preventing gun “violence” (to include suicide and accidents) via safe storage. For me the most interesting part was the last paragraph, so either read or skip to the end and find the following:

Firearms are here to stay. Just as we encourage safe sex rather than abstinence to reduce the burden of teenage pregnancy, we can encourage safe firearm storage rather than simply discouraging firearm ownership altogether in our efforts to reduce gun violence.

Michael Anestis

Spoof ad from Fernet Branca Instagram feed @fernetbranca
Continue reading

A Woman’s Place in Gun Advertisements – New Study Posted

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.

Peters Cartridge Advertisement in The American Rifleman, January 1937
Continue reading

Why Are There So Few Violent Insurrectionist Gun Owners?

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 Atlantic at 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.

Continue reading