The Road Ahead – 2023

I’ve had some personal and professional setbacks so far in 2023, but I’ve also had some amazing opportunities to bring light to culture war over guns in America. I’m grateful for that. In this post, I want to share some of what I have planned for the rest of 2023 for anyone interested.

Light Over Heat YouTube videos: Having taken a longer than expected hiatus then returned and consulted with my guide John Correia of Active Self Protection, I am going to keep posting these short videos on various topics concerning guns and gun culture. They may not be as regular as I hope or as polished, but I believe there is an audience for them and they certainly support my educational goals.

Sociology of Guns syllabus: First up is putting together the syllabus for Sociology of Guns V9.0 that I will be teaching at Wake Forest University this fall. I’m doing this a bit earlier than normal because I’ve been asked by The Conversation to contribute a piece about my course to their “Uncommon Courses” series. I’m really excited to share what I’ve learned about having productive conversations about guns through teaching this course.

University of Wyoming College of Law Firearms Research Center workshop: Next I will be headed to Fort Worth, Texas for a workshop sponsored by the new Firearms Research Center at the University of Wyoming College of Law (in conjunction with the Duke University Center for Firearms Law). I will be presenting the chapter of my book-in-progress on Gun Culture 2.0 that addresses the evolution and contours of concealed carry laws in the US.

I’m excited to learn more about firearms law from actual legal scholars and historians, especially in the dynamic new post-Bruen world we’re living in.

Continue reading

Shooting is Fun – A Reminder from the Field

“It’s fun. It’s a sport. And it’s a skill.”

Participant in Open Source Shooting Sports range event

It’s no secret that early in my research on American gun culture, I took Michael Bane’s idea of a Gun Culture 2.0 and brought it into scholarly discussions of guns. This has been a mixed blessing.

The concept of Gun Culture 2.0 is mostly positive because it allows me to convey a broad pattern of evolution in the center of gravity of American gun culture.

Diagram by David Yamane, from

But, as the literary critic Kenneth Burke famously said, “Every way of seeing is a way of not seeing. Every insight has its own special blindness.”

Continue reading

Why I Almost Abandoned My Effort to Bring Light and Turn Down the Heat on Guns (Light Over Heat #49)

What was supposed to be a brief hiatus from my “Light Over Heat” YouTube channel almost became permanent. This video explains why.

A lot of it had to do with my feeling like I was talking into a void, and a lot of that feeling had to do with negative responses I have been receiving to the proposal for my book, Gun Curious: A Journey into America’s Evolving Culture of Firearms.

In this video I read from some of those responses so you can get an idea of the uphill battle I am fighting to publish a book that tries to turn down the heat on the great gun debates in America and occupy the vast but (I now realize) lonely middle ground.

If I have given you some value and you would like to support my work, please surf over to my “Light Over Heat” YouTube channel and SUBSCRIBE to follow. You can also RING THE BELL to receive notifications, and SHARE so others can learn about this work.

Coming Back to Lower the Heat and Address Frustration and Fatigue Over Guns (Light Over Heat #48)

I have been on a 5-month hiatus from my “Light Over Heat” YouTube channel and seriously thought about not coming back. (More on that in a later video.)

But seeing the frustration and fatigue in my son while talking about all of the recent shootings in America (Kansas City, upstate New York, Austin, Charlotte, Louisville, Dadeville) helped me see I need to press on trying to lower the temperature in our debates over guns and to increase conversation, mutual understanding, and empathy across our differences.

I apologize in advance for my low energy in this video. I know they say the camera sucks your energy so you need to go 125%, but I’ve been going at 150% for a week straight and I’m tired.

If I have given you some value and you would like to support my work, please surf over to my “Light Over Heat” YouTube channel and SUBSCRIBE to follow. You can also RING THE BELL to receive notifications, and SHARE so others can learn about this work.

Talking About Violence in the Asian American Community, Especially the Recent Half Moon Bay Mass Murder


I am Asian-American (half Japanese-American on my father’s side) and grew up in Half Moon Bay, California. The coincidence of this with the mass murder of 7 people in Half Moon Bay by an Asian man led to a conversation recently with Randy Miyan on the Liberal Gun Owners podcast.

My appearance was broken into two separate segments (S2G35 and S2G36) and followed two segments with fellow half-Japanese-American (but also half-Chinese American) Chris Cheng (S2G33 and S2G34).

Although I am not an expert in mass violence, I appreciate the opportunity to reflect on issues that hit very close to home and do so from a very personal perspective at times.

Of course, I typically turn to statistics before getting personal on these issues. The following is the documentation for some of the empirical claims I make during these episodes.

Continue reading

Talking About Guns Across the Political Spectrum

Can we use the social media echo chamber to escape the echo chambers we all live in? I try to do this by maintaining an ideologically diverse set of friends and followers on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

I am also fortunate to be asked to speak about guns by groups and media outlets across the political spectrum, from firearms lawyers to Lutheran ethicists, as well as ideologically mixed groups.

Doing so helps me achieve my goal for 2023: to have brave and empathetic conversations about guns.

My two most recent podcast appearances allowed me to speak to two (probably pretty) distinct audiences about my work on guns, gun culture, and the Sociology of Guns.

If you can’t/don’t want to watch/listen to the YouTube videos embedded above, you can also listen to audio-only versions of these podcasts:

Talking About Guns by 97Percent, Season 2, Episode 24 from 23 February 2023

The Republican Professor podcast from 13 February 2023

If you appreciate this or some of the other 250+ posts on this blog, please consider supporting my research and writing on American gun culture by liking and sharing my work.

Understanding and Misunderstanding American Gun Culture and Violence

As I discussed recently, I had the opportunity to share my views on American gun culture and gun violence at the 31st annual gathering of the Lutheran Ethicists’ Network (LEN) in January.

A written version of my talk will be published in the Journal of Lutheran Ethics later this year. For the time-being, I have put a preprint of the paper online as a free download at SocArxiv.

Following the break, I will summarize the paper.

Continue reading

Having Brave and Empathetic Conversations About Guns

Just as I was returning home from the promising Deseret Elevate gathering I recently described, I received an interesting invitation from some leaders of the Lutheran Ethicists’ Network (LEN).

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA – the liberal Lutheran denomination in the US) is planning to issue considering [correction 2/26/23] a statement on gun violence and the LEN wants to inform that work. So I was invited to join them at their 31st annual gathering at the famous Palmer House in Chicago to discuss “Guns, Violence, and Security in the U.S.: What Might the ELCA Say Now?”

Lobby of Palmer House in Chicago. Photo by David Yamane
Continue reading

What If We Begin Discussions of Guns With Our Commonalities Rather Than Differences?

I wrote recently about the challenge of finding a publisher for my book on American gun culture, and my chagrin that some acquisition editors think there is not a market for a “calm, thoughtful approach to the charged topic of gun ownership” (to quote one rejection). Or, as another editor wrote, “it will be difficult to locate readers looking for a ‘tonic’-like approach such a heated issue.”

Although this is frustrating, I also had a number of experiences last year (2022) that convinced me of the possibility and importance of bringing “light over heat” to the issue of guns. I will post about each of these in turn.

Last fall I was invited to serve as a panelist for a discussion of gun violence organized by Deseret News as part of their “Elevate” initiative. The panel was held in conjunction with the publication of a symposium in Desert Magazine on “How to stop the next mass shooting” (which also looked at the issue of gun violence more broadly).

Continue reading

A Frustrated Yet Still Somewhat Hopeful Update on My Book on American Gun Culture

Among the reasons for my recent hiatus from online activity in connection with my research on guns is frustration at my literary agent’s inability to find a publisher for my book, Gun Curious: Inside America’s Evolving Culture of Firearms. This is not due at all to his effort and expertise. He is annually one of the most successful sellers of non-fiction works in the US.

Last summer (2022), he began sending my proposal to editors at trade publishers like Crown, Random House, Scribner, St. Martin’s, Bloomsbury, Sentinal, and others. In three rounds totaling 19 submissions, all but one passed or did not respond (effectively passing).

Of course, I have to accept the possibility that the book I am writing is just not interesting or that I’m not the right person to carry the project. But there was a pattern in the editors’ responses that I could not help but notice:

Thanks for this, Don. The author is really impressive and this is a timely and important issue. That said, I have too many concerns about the size of the audience for a book on this subject, as well done as this is.

I think this is a pretty difficult sell. While Yamane’s approach to guns, gun laws, and gun culture is in a unique kind of thoughtful middle ground, I think we’ll be hard pressed to get people on any side of the gun issue (pro, anti, curious, etc.) excited enough to lay down money for the book.

I think it’s going to be a pass. It’s a smart proposal and we enjoyed reading it, but looking at the sales track for the comps, we’re concerned that none of them have broken out—even with some of the authors having bigger public-facing platforms than David.

“No audience for this book” is certainly an easy answer for an editor to fall back on, though perhaps too easy an answer because I recall hearing somewhere that the vast majority of books published do not sell out their advances. The idea that other books on American gun culture have not sold well (“broken out”) is certainly a reality I am fighting against.

But more discouraging to me is the idea that occupying “a unique kind of thoughtful middle ground” in the gun debates is a dead end. As much as I believe in my project, I have to admit that a book on Guns and the Demise of American Democracy OR Guns and the Salvation of American Democracy would be easier to sell.

Indeed, in my frustration last fall, I mocked up two competing book covers and developed a plan to release the same book under both titles and use sales figures as data on where Americans stand on the issue.

And, yet, I am still somewhat hopeful about this book project because the issue of guns remains essential and no one is approaching it in the way I do in Gun Curious. Before my last meeting with my agent, I re-read the entire 60+ page proposal and found almost nothing I wanted to change.

The proposal is now in the email inboxes of another group of editors, and as Sandy always reminds me (citing often rejected authors like Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, and John Grisham), it only takes one. So, please send your positive energy to Manhattan for me.

For those interested in the longer story of this effort, read on.

Continue reading