When I sat down to write the brief show notes for the YouTube episode, I ended up spending 9 hours writing a 3,500 systematic response. Which is probably too much to ask of most people. So, here is the TL:DR or Cliff’s Notes version of that post. If you want to see any of these points elaborated or the documentation supporting them, please pop over to the original post.
TL:DR of this TL:DR I have learned very different lessons from firearms classes than Harel Shapira.
The title, of course, is provocative and the essay certainly provoked considerable attention on my social media feeds. My gun-skeptic friends had all of their biases about Gun Culture 2.0 confirmed, while my gun-sympathetic friends didn’t recognize themselves in Shapira’s characterization.
As usual, I tried to translate between these two different perspectives, but 140 characters doesn’t allow for much nuance.
So, in addition to 11 minutes of more free-flowing “Light Over Heat” video comments, this blog post presents the points I would like to make more systematically.
TL:DR I have learned very different lessons from firearms classes than Harel Shapira.
I’ve been spending more time than I would like to recently addressing gun owners shooting people for (seemingly) no good reason. After the recent “hide-and-seek” shooting in Louisiana, I thought about an opinion essay I wrote last summer on why I dislike the “good guy with a gun” slogan.
This week on my “Light Over Heat” YouTube channel, I address the idea that people can or should “shoot first and ask questions later.” It’s sad that I have to point out that this is garbage, but it seems I do.
There is a lot of anecdata floating around about how anti-Asian discrimination increased during the pandemic (think of people taking the “China virus” and “kung flu” language to the next outgroup level), and that this led to unprecedented gun buying among Asian Americans.
Of course, without historical data, we can’t really speak to “precedent,” but these scholars find that 6.0% of respondents said they purchased a gun during COVID and another 11.2% said they intended to purchase a gun. Of the 6% of COVID gun buyers, 54.6% were first-time gun buyers.
In Light Over Heat Ep 12, I talked about how violence can be virtuous and my life-altering realization that I might need to use it to protect my children or myself.
A commentator on that video distinguished between violence being virtuous and violence being desirable. I don’t see violence as desirable, i.e., being subjectively pleasing or worth seeking in and of itself. It is a means to the end of protecting life, family, or friends. That is what makes it virtuous.
This reminded me of Tim Larkin’s book When Violence is the Answer, about which I have written previously. Larkin argues BOTH that when violence is the answer, it’s the only answer, AND that violence is rarely the answer.
In Light Over Heat Ep 11, I mentioned that some people address their needs via outsourcing, including outsourcing their violence to others like the police.
Related to this is the fact that there are many people who have little-to-no direct experience using violence. These people often only see the downsides of violence and, by extension, think of guns as fundamentally bad because they see violence as fundamentally bad.
Last year I was invited to contribute to a special issue of The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science by the editors Cassandra Crifasi, Jennifer Dineen, and Kerri Raissian. The theme of this issue is “Gun Violence in America: What Works and What is Possible.”
Specifically, the editors invited me “to write a paper overviewing the evolution of American gun culture – from hunting to gun culture 2.0. Your scholarship in this area will help readers of the special issue understand the role guns play in American culture and how that role has evolved (or not) over time.”
I am always flattered but such invitations, though perhaps I should not be. Maybe the first dozen people they asked said “No”? More likely is the reality that not many scholars have focused their work on gun culture per se, as opposed to adverse outcomes with guns, which is the primary focus of this special issue.
As usual, my participation in these sorts of enterprises reminds me of the Sesame Street song I remember so well from my childhood.
My contribution will focus on the rise of Gun Culture 2.0, the self-defense core of American gun culture today. But I also want to engage what I call “The Standard Model of Explaining the Irrationality of Defensive Gun Ownership” – the primary way gun studies scholars approach Gun Culture 2.0.
In last week’s video on Gun Culture 2.0, I mentioned the “Concealed Carry Revolution” as establishing an important aspect of the legal environment within which people practice armed self-defense today.