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

New Gun Owners: Collected Works About

Although there are and have always been new guns owners every year, the Great Gun Buying Spree of 2020 may entail more new gun owners than normal. It has certain generated more interest in new gun owners than normal.

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 unprecedented pressures to get the Gun Curious off the fence and into gun ownership.

This post collects various stories and studies I have come across that emphasize new gun owners, especially in 2020, but also earlier. If you know of other works to be included, please post them in the comments.

Continue reading

Not So Hidden Humor in Gun Owners’ YouTube Videos by Connie Hassett-Walker

In my work on gun culture, I have systematically avoided collecting systematic data on gun culture online. True, I have spent time with and attended a seminar by YouTube star John Correia of Active Self Protection. But I just don’t have the stomach to wade into many online gun forums or follow too much gun social media.

Fortunately, other scholars are braver than I am. Among them is Connie Hassett-Walker. Following on her recent book, Guns on the Internet (Routledge, 2019), she offers some examples of and reflections on humor in gun owners’ YouTube video here.

In the conclusion to her book (and in an essay on The Conversation), she issues “The 100 YouTube Video Challenge.” Designed to inspire open-mindedness and empathy for those on the other side of the gun debate, the challenge entails watching 100 YouTube videos “showcasing something from the opposing side.” Not only that, “but identifying three things in the videos they watch to which they could relate” (p. 131).

Here she gives those on the gun control side 8 pro-gun videos to get them started toward their 100. Please suggest other videos from either side of the debate in the comments.

By Connie Hassett-Walker

I imagine what you’re thinking. ‘Gun videos’… ‘humor’… what?

Continue reading

PBS Frontline Episode “NRA Under Fire” and Common Narratives of the NRA

I don’t really want to keep talking about the National Rifle Association (NRA). I really don’t. As noted previously, when I sent a proposal for a book on Gun Culture 2.0 to Oxford University Press a couple of years ago, one of the peer reviewers took me to task for not talking about the NRA enough. In fact, as a correction to those who want to reduce guns and gun culture to the NRA, I am intentionally trying to write my book without putting the NRA in the center of the action.

Which is not to say the NRA is unimportant, but the common narrative of the NRA is too simplistic in a number of ways. In particular, it downplays too much both the NRA’s early political activity and its current activities beyond politics.

I saw this once again in a recent  episode of the long-running PBS series Frontline on the National Rifle Association called “NRA Under Fire.”

Continue reading

GVPedia: Armed with Facts or Rhetoric on Defensive Gun Use?

GVPedia (“Gun Violence Prevention” media) was created by Devin Hughes after his blog project with Evan DeFilippis, “Armed with Reason,” ran its course. Both projects have sought to “arms policymakers, advocates, and the public with facts and data to create evidence-based policy to reduce gun violence.”

Unfortunately, as sometimes happens when facts and data are bootstrapped to pre-existing policy positions, rhetoric can overrun reason. This is unfortunate because it harms the credibility of the source and builds walls where we need productive conversations.

I saw this in a recent video GVPedia pushed out about defensive gun uses (DGUs). The video claims to explain “why relying on ‘good guys’ with guns to stop ‘bad guys’ with guns doesn’t make us safer. #ArmedWithFacts.”

This sub-2 minute video is actually just a teaser for 2 longer videos posted by GVPedia, but there is nothing here that gives me confidence that I should invest time and energy watching the other two. In fact, I barely made it past the first 20 seconds of the teaser.

Continue reading