Who Are The Liberal Gun Owners?

The Democratic presidential primaries have the media off in search of a political unicorn: The Liberal Gun Owner. Two news stories in the past couple of days report on successful hunts.

The NPR affiliate in Seattle reported on “Four Seattle liberals on why they own guns and who they’re voting for in the primary. (H/T to my former student DH for sending this). And the Associated Press ran a story titled “Liberal gun owners face dilemma in 2020 field” (since picked up by many news outlets including The Washington Post).

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Thoughts on Bridging the American Gun Divide

The finale episode of Season 3 of the American Diagnosis podcast with Dr. Celine Gounder has recently been released. The season focused on gun violence and the concluding episode considers the question: “Where Do We Go From Here?”

Over a year ago, I spoke about Gun Culture 2.0 on Episode 4 of Season 3 of the podcast, and 15 month later I am pleased to be given the last word of sorts for the season.

My comments remain some of my most coherent thoughts on the American gun divide, though I don’t feel as sanguine today as I did in April of 2018 when I was interviewed. Give the episode a listen (or see an excerpt of the transcript below) and judge for yourself. Let me know what you think.

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The National Rifle Association’s Sacralization of the Second Amendment

In a recent appearance on Ballistic Radio with John Johnston, I spoke some about ways in which gun culture can be like a religion. Although I ultimately concluded that there are important differences between the two, I have noted the confluence of guns and religion previously — both in my academic work and on my Gun Culture 2.0 blog.

For example, reflecting on my first experience attending the National Rifle Association annual meeting, I came away with the conclusion that the NRA is a Christian organization. Of course, this was a somewhat impressionistic observation.

Recently, Dr. Jessica Dawson — a sociologist the United States Military Academy at West Point and a U.S. Army Major — has addressed this issue more systematically in an article entitled, “Shall not be infringed: How the NRA used religious language to transform the meaning of the Second Amendment” (the journal, Palgrave Communications, is open-access, there is no paywall to read or download it).

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Targeted Advertising: Documenting the Emergence of Gun Culture 2.0 in Guns Magazine, 1955-2019

As noted in my recent post about the changing themes in gun advertising in The American Rifleman from 1918-2017, I have just finished a replication study based on advertising in Guns magazine from 1955 (when the magazine was founded) through 2019.

It documents the same pattern of decline of “Gun Culture 1.0” themes of hunting and recreational/sport shooting and raise of “Gun Culture 2.0” themes of personal protection and concealed carry.

A pre-publication version of the paper is available for download on SocArXiv Papers. Just two clicks and you can help this paper blow up on SocArXiv.

UPDATE: Thanks to a reader “OK S.” I now have the source of Colt’s “Safety of the Highways” ad. It was published in 1926 in The Lucky Bag, the Annual of the Regiment of Midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. The annual is available at https://archive.org/details/luckybag1926unse/page/566. Consider donating to the Internet Archive!

P.S., If you have any idea where the Colt’s “Safety of the Highways” ad was first published, I am still looking for the source of that. Thanks!

A Gun “Makes . . . a Stupid Man Feel Clever”

In my previous post about anti-gun biases that pop up all too frequently in scholarly studies of guns, I highlighted a passage that appeared for no good reason in a recent book I reviewed, Guns in Law:

A gun “makes a little man feel big, a stupid man feel clever, a frightened man brave, and an insecure man feel sure.”

I noted that the authors cite an article by Walter Menninger as the source of this passage. Alas, it appears nowhere in the Menninger article, though Menninger certainly agrees with its dismissive sentiment.

Rather, the passage comes from a story in the New York Journal-American newspaper from 1965, “Are You Gun Shy? . . . Read This and Be Happy.”

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On Making Guns Seem Less Socially Acceptable

As someone who came from completely outside gun culture and became a gun owner later in life, I have tried often to find a middle ground between culture warriors on both sides of the Great American Gun Debates. That, in fact, is one of the purposes of this blog.

As I said earlier this year, one of my key discoveries in journeying through gun culture is that “guns are normal, and normal people use guns.”

Although this could be seen as simply stating the obvious, many gun control advocates go beyond wanting “common sense” gun laws to prevent gun violence. They are not just against gun violence, they are fundamentally against guns. A story in the New York Times on the recent debates over open carry in stores highlights this yet again.

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What I’m Reading: Open Source Defense

Open Source Defense is an online platform (website/blog/digital newsletter) dedicated to defending gun rights by enlivening, enlightening, and enriching the discussion of guns — and gun culture itself — in the US.

I enjoy the materials they are producing, and recommend them to the gun curious, for a couple of reasons. First, regardless of your political position on guns, they are a good source of information about what a pro-gun position in the US looks like without the additional culture war rhetoric that plagued the now deceased NRATV. No smashing TVs with sledgehammers or burning newspapers here.

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