Is a Life with Less Risk Better?

I am a risk-averse person. When a friend from high school told me he was thinking of leaving his secure job with an established software company to join a startup, I thought it was too risky. He had a young family to worry about and the startup’s business model was terrible. Why would anyone wait to receive DVD movie rentals in the mail when they could get them right away at the many Blockbuster Video stores on their way to or from work? Cryptocurrency? No, thank you. Apple stock? Overpriced. I don’t drive fast, don’t ride my bike without a helmet, don’t jump out of planes or off cliffs, don’t like boats or ATVs, don’t drink to excess, don’t pick fights. Whenever possible, I try to limit my exposure to unnecessary risk.

At first glance, the following quote from sociologist and gun critic Jonathan Metzl would seem right up my alley:

Risk helps people identify the possibility of peril in their loved ones and is something that we all want to avoid in our own lives. Risk implies peril, hazard, and the possibility of loss. Risk, as anthropologist Lochlann Jain puts it, is a form of American autobiography—inasmuch as it reveals a great deal about our relationships with cars, machines, and other objects and technologies. As a doctor or as a researcher, I believe that a life with less risk is a life that is often longer, happier, and more secure. Risk is something that we should want to study, identify, and, ultimately, prevent.

Jonathan Metzl, Dying of Whiteness, p. 50
Continue reading

2nd Anniversary of “Gun Curious”

Yesterday was the second anniversary of this blog. I began Gun Curious as a complement to my longer-running Gun Culture 2.0 blog because I wanted an outlet for my observations on guns and gun culture that would be of interest to those who simply wanted to know or think more about these issues, especially those whose minds were not already made up.

In two years and 125 posts, I have found what I should have already known: that confirmation bias reigns supreme in real life and on the web.

Because of this, I appreciate all the more the modest number of dedicated readers here who share my curiosity about the significant role guns play in our individual and social lives. I am looking forward to sharing more over the next 365 days.

If you know of someone who shares your gun curiosity, please encourage them to follow the blog via email or the Gun Curious Facebook page.

The author shooting at the Colonial Williamsburg Musket Range, 2017.

Buy me a drinkIf you want to support my work, please buy me a drink

Gun Culture 2.0 and the Great Gun Buying Spree of 2020

Late in 2020 an editor from the online magazine Discourse contacted me to see if I wanted to write anything about my work on American gun culture for them. The invitation provided an excellent opportunity for me to formalize some of my scattered thoughts on the Great Gun-Buying Spree of 2020. I quickly agreed.

It was published recently so have a look, and read more after the break.

Screen cap of Discourse magazine essay on Gun Culture 2.0
Continue reading

2021: A Sneak Peek of My Year Ahead

I am trying to break the grip the current moment has on my attention, and thought a good way to do that would be to have a brief look at my year ahead.

For the spring semester, I am on a research leave, meaning I am excused from my normal teaching and service obligations as a faculty member at Wake Forest University. My main goal during this leave is to make serious progress on my (long-awaited?) book on American gun culture.

I am going to try to wrap up as many ongoing projects as possible in January so that beginning in February the bulk of my attention and energy will be on the book. Among these ongoing projects is a short book on the history of concealed carry laws and their implementation. The book will be available as a print and eBook through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, other online channels, and by special order through local book stores.

I will also be giving free electronic copies to everyone who supports me as a member on Buy Me a Coffee ($5/month or $60/year).

Continue reading

2020 Brief Year in Review

Although 2020 presented some unprecedented challenges, I managed to have some successes along the way.

I published two scholarly articles on guns. The first, “Targeted Advertising: Documenting the Emergence of Gun Culture 2.0 in Guns Magazine, 1955–2019,” was a replication of my earlier work examining advertising in The American Rifleman from 1918-2017. It showed substantially the same pattern of a shift in the center of gravity of gun culture from Version 1.0 to Version 2.0.

The second was published right at the end of the year, “Who Are the Liberal Gun Owners?” This article actually had its origins in a question I first raised on this blog.

Brian Hill teaching at The Complete Combatant, Dahlonega, Georgia, June 2020. Photo by David Yamane
Continue reading

Top 10 Most Viewed Posts in 2020

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, and readership of this blog lags well behind Gun Culture 2.0, I remain committed to posting here about issues relating to guns for people across the political and gun ownership spectra.

Continue reading

Gun Studies, Peer Review, and Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind

I reviewed articles for two scholarly journals yesterday, one of which was quite good and one of which had a very good empirical analysis embedded in a badly biased introduction and conclusion.

It becomes more and more challenging to maintain my equanimity as I review articles which have such clear implicit — and, frequently, explicit — biases. In fact, not long ago my frustration boiled over onto Twitter and I nearly got in trouble for violating the confidentiality of the peer review process.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

2019 Year in Review and Top 10 Most Viewed Posts

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.

Compared to my first full year blogging at Gun Culture 2.0, my first year at Gun Curious was pretty successful. I posted 38 times, had 12,318 visitors, and 21,401 page views. So, between 500 and 600 page views per post, on average. I think that is reasonable for a blog that is trying to fill a niche that doesn’t have as committed an audience as a pro- or anti-gun blog does.

Photo by Rakicevic Nenad from Pexels

Continue reading

Shooting is Fun — #435 — Family Time

Those who have seen my video on becoming a gun owner know that my wife Sandy played a crucial role getting me into guns. But the last time we shot a class together was in 2012. Over the past 6+ years since then, she has been accumulating nursing degrees while I have been wandering around gun culture.

It was so much fun, therefore, to take John Murphy’s  Concealed Carry: Advanced Skills and Tactics course together this past weekend, especially shooting the “Who gets to kill the most home intruders drill” (humor alert: not its actual name; see video below, H/T Annette Evans).