Light Over Heat #23: The Benefits of Intellectual Diversity and the Challenge of Achieving It

In my last video (Light Over Heat #22), I reflected on the value of diversity (political, cultural, social, intellectual) in exposing us to people different from us and ideas different from our own. From these differences can come greater understanding. I applied this idea to some of the ways I have come to see the issues raised by the Buffalo mass murder differently.

This week, I reflect on how intellectual diversity has challenged me to think better in my scholarly work on guns. Drawing on Jonathan Haidt’s work in THE RIGHTEOUS MIND (about which I have written before), I highlight the importance of people with different views working together in a spirit of trust to make scholarship about guns, but also (potentially) the world, better.

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Light Over Heat #20: A Light Take in Celebration of This Milestone – Shooting Guns in Texas

Wow, this is the 20th episode of “Light Over Heat” that I recorded! I can’t believe it. It seems like I was just recording my 10th episode not long ago. This second set of videos (Season 2) was supposed to be organized thematically around t-shirts I own. It mostly was, but on a few occasions I couldn’t pull that off. Oh, well. The world is too chaotic to be organized thematically around seasons, anyway.

Speaking of chaos, this video is also appearing way out of order since I had to pre-empt it in order to reflect on guns and race in the wake of the Buffalo mass murder.

Although I do not do the typical internet/social media “hot takes” on my chosen topic, I did think it was appropriate for this milestone video to do a “Light Take” (h/t John Correia). So, this video shows me shooting a single-action revolver, a lever-action rifle, a double-action revolver, and a fully-automatic and suppressed submachine gun. Of course, lessons can be learned from this exercise, but for now I will just let the videos speak for themselves.

Enjoy!

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Light Over Heat #22: Further Thoughts Post-Buffalo Thanks to Intellectual Diversity

In my last video (Light Over Heat #21), I commented on guns and race, racism, and white supremacy in the wake of the Buffalo mass murder. The comments I received, even the critical ones, were generally very respectful and constructive. Given the name and mission of my YouTube channel — “Light Over Heat” — I appreciate this very much.

The comments also got me thinking about the value of diversity (political, cultural, social, intellectual) in exposing us to people and ideas different from our own. From these differences can come greater understanding.

Getting into gun culture has exposed me to more intellectual diversity than if I had just stayed in my bright blue sociology bubble. In this week’s video, I talk about some of the ways I have come to see the issues raised by the Buffalo mass murder differently.

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“Be a Bridge”

Graduation ceremonies always lift my spirits, so after a tough weekend confronting the reality of white supremacist hate in America, I was glad to be able to set that aside and recognize the achievements of over 1,000 Wake Forest University undergraduates (including my youngest son) who completed their final two years of college under extraordinary circumstances.

As I told my own students on the final day of class this semester, I hope that the challenges they face make them stronger, more resilient, more creative, and more compassionate people.

Wake Forest 2022 Commencement. Photo by David Yamane

The commencement speaker this year was Van Jones, who is best known as a CNN political commentator. His address hit all the right notes for me. Here I want to highlight just a couple, but you can watch the entire address on YouTube or read it at the Wake Forest University commencement site.

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Light Over Heat #19: Presentation on Gun Culture 2.0 at UCONN-Hartford Authors Workshop

In Light Over Heat videos #15 (on gun research and gun policy) and #16 (on finding common ground on gun violence), I shared my thoughts on a workshop I attended in March at UCONN-Hartford. The workshop brought together authors contributing to an issue of The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science on gun violence prevention.

Of course, GVP is not my area of expertise, but I was asked to contribute something on the evolution of gun culture. So, in Hartford I presented a summary of my contribution, “Gun Culture 2.0: Evolution, Contours, and Consequences of Defensive Gun Ownership in America.”

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Mistakes Were Made: TSA Checkpoint Edition

As I am working on my book proposal, I have been reviewing my career as a gun owner. Over the past 11 years, mistakes have been made. None fatal or physically injurious, thankfully. But mistakes nonetheless.

It’s easy for me to dismiss Madison Cawthorn for so many reasons, including for being caught twice going through TSA checkpoints with a firearm. But it’s also true that in 2013 I had a loaded pistol magazine in my murse as I went through the TSA checkpoint at Piedmont Triad International Airport (GSO).

Coincidentally, I was on a research trip to Houston for my first ever National Rifle Association Annual Meetings and Exhibits. I put my murse on the belt and walked through the metal detector. Once on the other side, they pulled my murse and me to the side. They politely asked if I had anything in my murse that they should know about. No, I said confidently. Any e-cigarettes or anything like that? No, I said, racking my brain for what it might be. Finally, they pulled out of the side pocket a loaded Beretta Nano magazine.

As I never murse-carried that pistol, I didn’t (and don’t) recall how the magazine got in there. But there it was. The TSA agents didn’t make a big deal of it. Just told me they would be keeping the magazine and I would be hearing from the TSA by mail. Sometime later, I received a warning letter from the TSA and that was it.

Of course, I never did it again, unlike some people (I also didn’t get to keep the magazine, unlike some people and their guns), but this blog post by George Mason law professor Robert Leider on “Guns at the Airport” is a thorough consideration of ways we might reduce the growing number of guns being found at airport checkpoints.

Someone recently pointed me to the “Standing His Ground” blog and this is the first post I have read. I’ll be looking forward to reading more.

Light Over Heat #17: Are Gun Owners Thoughtful Risk Analysts?

The idea that guns are a risk factor – for homicide, suicide, accidental death, and injury – was a central idea at the gun violence prevention writers workshop I attended in Hartford earlier this month (see Light Over Heat #15 and Light Over Heat #16). This week I reflect more broadly on the role of risk in our lives.

I am risk-averse in certain ways, but in other ways, I take risks all the time. Notably, drinking alcohol which has many well-documented short-term and long-term health risks. Rather than always trying to avoid risk, perhaps we should, in gun trainer Will Petty’s terms, think of risk as a currency that we get to choose how to spend?

In spending our risk wisely, we need to be thoughtful risk analysts and wise risk managers. In bringing firearms into their homes and lives, gun owners are assuming a certain amount of risk for themselves and their loved ones.

This raises the question: Are gun owners thoughtful risk analysts for their own lives?

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Light Over Heat #16: Finding Common Ground on Gun Violence Prevention

This week I offer a second reflection on the 2-day workshop I attended at the University of Connecticut in Harford for authors contributing to a special issue of The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science on gun violence. (The first reflection focuses on the relationship between research on guns and gun policy, see Light Over Heat #15.)

I recorded this reflection in my hotel room right after the workshop ended and so my thoughts were a bit jumbled but hopefully my editing brings some coherence to them.

The core of this video speaks to my general approach to engaging those whose focus vis-à-vis guns differs from my own: find a common ground. In this case, the common ground is in the desire to prevent gun violence.

And more generally, as in all things guns, my approach to this experience reflects my interest in Light Over Heat.

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A Firearm Life Plan for Responsible Gun Owners

I had the pleasure of meeting, eating, and chatting with emergency medicine doctor and epidemiologist Marian “Emmy” Betz last week at the authors’ workshop I attended at UCONN-Hartford. I had seen Dr. Betz regularly on Twitter and knew something of her work from an article she published in the American Journal of Public Health on which gun educator Rob Pincus was a co-author (discussed in a video on my “Light Over Heat” YouTube channel).

One of the most interesting and significant projects on which Dr. Betz has been working was unveiled recently: the Firearm Life Plan. As the plan’s website says, “A Firearm Life Plan is a voluntary, personal plan made between a firearm owner and those they trust.”

A Firearm Life Plan will help a firearm owner be prepared. The Firearm Inventory worksheet outlines what someone wants done with their firearms, and when. The Legacy Map lets someone share the importance of firearms in their life and preserve their memories.

In my view, thinking about and planning for physical, emotional, and cognitive changes we may go through in life, and what the disposition of our firearms will be as we experience those changes (to include our inevitable deaths), is something all responsible gun owners should do. The Firearm Life Plan is an important tool to these ends.

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Light Over Heat #15: From Gun Research to Gun Policy

Last week I attended a workshop at the University of Connecticut in Hartford for authors contributing to a special issue of The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science on gun violence prevention. Of course, my specialty is in gun culture not gun violence, so I was asked to speak about the evolution of American gun culture.

But I also listened to 13 other presentations, 12 of which did center on gun violence, by some of the top researchers studying this topic. I learned quite a bit, some of which I will be sharing on this blog as I have the opportunity to process it.

This week’s “Light Over Heat” YouTube video provides an initial reflection after the first day of the workshop. I note in particular the difference between how researchers speak among themselves about their findings and how advocates take those findings into the policy realm.

Simply put: Research is nuanced, advocacy is blunt.

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