Gun Curious Podcaster Update

I recently received an update from the gun curious podcaster I spoke with earlier this year. He has now taken a 4-hour basic handgun course (with live fire) and plans to take additional courses then apply for his New Jersey firearm license. His is an increasingly common story. As before, I encourage you to check out the podcast for insight into his perspective (more than mine).

ORIGINAL POST FROM APRIL 2022:

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.

How Do Gun Owners Respond to Mass Shootings Like Uvalde?

Recently I spoke on background to a couple of producers working on a news special on gun violence-related trauma. Speaking “on background” means that I would not be quoted but the producers are trying to get a better understanding of their subject matter as they proceed to put the special together.

I am usually happy to do this in order to try to have a point of view represented in the final product that might otherwise not be. For me, as someone who specializes not in gun violence but in gun culture, the POV is that of the normalcy of guns and gun owners.

In the course of our discussion, one of the producers asked me, “How do gun owners respond to mass shootings” like Uvalde?

“Woman and grief” by x1klima, CC BY-ND 2.0

My response (paraphrasing here):

Like any normal human being does. They feel grief, rage, disbelief, compassion, and other normal human emotions.

Many might want to offer their thoughts and/or prayers for the individuals, families, and communities affected, but “thoughts and prayers” have now been weaponized by activists who insist that the only appropriate response to mass shootings is gun control right now. Which, of course, has been politicized as “common sense.”

It was a very interesting question to ask, but an important one, and I was glad that I had the opportunity to answer it as the producer seemed as if he had genuinely never thought of my answer.

Gun Owners’ Views of “Good Guys with Guns”

Today NPR and Ipsos released the results of a KnowledgePanel poll of 1,022 adults who own at least one gun. It was conducted from June 15 to 21 in the wake of the mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde. The margin of error is +/- 3.3 percentage points.

There are a number of interesting findings, but here I want to highlight just two of them.

In light of my recent argument that we should retire the NRA slogan, “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” I was interested to see gun owners split pretty evenly on whether they agree with the statement. 51% of all gun owners agree with the statement, but as the survey shows for various beliefs and attitudes, there is a stark partisan divide: fully 69% of Republican gun owners agree, but only 19% of Democrat gun owners, with Independent gun owners leaning more toward the Democrat side than the Republican, with 44% agreeing.

Screen cap from https://www.npr.org/2022/07/08/1110239487/most-gun-owners-favor-modest-restrictions-but-deeply-distrust-government-poll-fi
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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/
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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.

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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.

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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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