The debate over civilian ownership of AR-15 platform rifles heats up every time there is a mass murder in the United States using one. Because I study gun culture, people often ask me, “Why does anyone need one of those weapons of war, anyway?”
I usually don’t have a good answer, since handguns are the gun of choice of Gun Culture 2.0, and most of my personal experience with firearms has been with handguns. In fact, about 5 years ago I bought an AR platform rifle with the intention of learning more about it, and it sat untouched for 4 years. Last fall someone shot 5 rounds through it and it has not been touched again since.
So I am happy to bring forth the writing of someone who has thought about this issue more than I have. Jon Stokes is a computer engineer who has two master’s degrees from Harvard Divinity School, co-founded Ars Technica, was an editor at Wired, and continues to be a progressive gun nut.
I appreciate his allowing me to re-print his essay, “Why I ‘Need’ an AR-15,” originally published on Medium in June 2016 following the mass murder at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.
Image courtesy of Oleg Volk
Even people who are avidly anti-gun recognize the value of pepper spray as a tool of personal protection.
On the other side, some pro-defensive gun people ignore pepper spray thinking that the gun they carry will solve all of their problems. According to trainer John Murphy, this is like trying to “hammer screws.”
Thankfully, those in the civilian defensive gun training industry whose work I respect most are increasingly promoting pepper spray as an important force option, one that can solve problems of personal protection well before lethal force would be necessary or legally justified.
POM pepper spray unit with pocket clip
Yesterday I wrote about a new source of information about guns in America, written from a gun rights perspective, Open Source Defense.
One aspect of their work that I neglected to mention was the dedicated page on their website called “Take a Newbie Shooting.”
Open Source Defense is an online platform (website/blog/digital newsletter) dedicated to defending gun rights by enlivening, enlightening, and enriching the discussion of guns — and gun culture itself — in the US.
I enjoy the materials they are producing, and recommend them to the gun curious, for a couple of reasons. First, regardless of your political position on guns, they are a good source of information about what a pro-gun position in the US looks like without the additional culture war rhetoric that plagued the now deceased NRATV. No smashing TVs with sledgehammers or burning newspapers here.
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).
Earlier this year, philosopher Michael Austin posted a short reflection on “Virtue and Guns” on his Psychology Today blog “Ethics for Everyone.” If the title didn’t already grab my attention, the subtitle would have: “How ‘Gun Culture 2.0’ can harm character.”
Even if some people hadn’t mistaken Austin’s argument about GC2.0 for mine, I still would have wanted to respond. He told me he would post a response if I wrote one, and he is true to his word.
Read “A Counterargument to ‘Virtue and Guns'” and let us both know what you think in the comments here.
As noted in my acknowledgement, my essay benefited from input from John Correia, John Johnston, Randy Miyan, Mike Pannone, and Patrick Toner.
In April, I gave the lunchtime talk at the National Firearms Law Seminar in Indianapolis. More than anything I’ve written or said, “Gun Culture 2.0, or How a Liberal Professor Became an Armed American” offered a very personal perspective on how I got into guns and the study of gun culture. I also discussed some of the many lessons I have learned on my journey so far.
Thanks to John Correia (and Jon Macek) of Active Self Protection, a video of my talk exists, and thanks to Robin Lindner of RLI Media, that video is ready for the world to see.
Leave a comment to let me know your story or your reactions to my story of gun curiosity.