Guns and gun culture in the United States are strongly associated with political and cultural conservatism. So much so that what requires explanation is not the link between guns and conservatism but guns and liberalism.
One-fifth of gun owners self-identify as politically liberal, and another 40% as politically moderate. So, in fact only a minority of gun owners (40%) self-identify as politically conservative.
In this module we examine the work of one of the two major liberal gun organizations in the United States: the Liberal Gun Owners (LGO). (The other is the Liberal Gun Club (LGC).) We will welcome to class as a guest speaker, for the second time, Randy Miyan, the executive director of the LGO.
He will talk about his own evolution as a gun owner, as well as the LGO’s unique perspective on guns in human history and culture.
In these trying times, can we at least all agree that guns are politically polarizing in the United States? Not inherently, of course, but they get drawn up into our divisive political system and culture in a profound way.
I’m pleased to share political scientist Mark R. Joslyn’s reflection on how emotions drive reasoning and division on the gun issue, for better or worse.
These reflections are part of a broader project Joslyn has been working on concerning the politics of gun ownership (see more about the author at the end). Based on this essay, I am really looking forward to getting my hands on his just released book, The Gun Gap: The Influence of Gun Ownership on Political Behavior and Attitudes. See this flyer with more information on the book and order online from Oxford University Press with promo code ASFLYQ6 to save 30%.
My Student Jim
By Mark R. Joslyn
I don’t really want to keep talking about the National Rifle Association (NRA). I really don’t. As noted previously, when I sent a proposal for a book on Gun Culture 2.0 to Oxford University Press a couple of years ago, one of the peer reviewers took me to task for not talking about the NRA enough. In fact, as a correction to those who want to reduce guns and gun culture to the NRA, I am intentionally trying to write my book without putting the NRA in the center of the action.
Which is not to say the NRA is unimportant, but the common narrative of the NRA is too simplistic in a number of ways. In particular, it downplays too much both the NRA’s early political activity and its current activities beyond politics.
I saw this once again in a recent episode of the long-running PBS series Frontline on the National Rifle Association called “NRA Under Fire.”
The Democratic presidential primaries have the media off in search of a political unicorn: The Liberal Gun Owner. Two news stories in the past couple of days report on successful hunts.
The NPR affiliate in Seattle reported on “Four Seattle liberals on why they own guns and who they’re voting for in the primary. (H/T to my former student DH for sending this). And the Associated Press ran a story titled “Liberal gun owners face dilemma in 2020 field” (since picked up by many news outlets including The Washington Post).
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.