I recently received an update from the gun curious podcaster I spoke with earlier this year. He has now taken a 4-hour basic handgun course (with live fire) and plans to take additional courses then apply for his New Jersey firearm license. His is an increasingly common story. As before, I encourage you to check out the podcast for insight into his perspective (more than mine).
ORIGINAL POST FROM APRIL 2022:
The animating idea of this blog is to speak (primarily) to those who are neither totally bought into the idea of guns nor totally opposed to it. That is, to the gun curious.
I recently had the opportunity to chat with just such a person. Mark McNease is a politically liberal gay man living in rural NJ. Mark found me because he is a member of the Liberal Gun Club (LGC), which syndicates this blog. He is a member of the LGC even though he is not a gun owner. Mark is part of roughly 1/3 of the population who don’t currently own guns but don’t rule them out. He is gun curious.
This is a very informative podcast not so much because of my answers but because of the host’s questions. A lot of people out there have the same questions about guns and gun culture as Mark, so I hope I answered them well.
Beyond recognizing the diversity of new gun buyers, I have also argued that being a person who owns a gun does not automatically make someone a “gun owner” in terms of their identity. Not developing a gun owner identity could limit new gun owners’ engagement with gun culture more broadly or with Second Amendment advocacy specifically (per political scientist Matthew Lacombe).
Some recent data on new gun owners and gun policy preferences (H/T The Trace’s Daily Bulletin) show that I may be, as is often the case, only half-right.
Now that I have been wandering around American gun culture for over a decade, I consume fewer gun-related podcasts than I used to. Time is my scarcest resource and as podcasts have proliferated, the signal-to-noise ratio is often too low to merit the investment.
I was fortunate to be asked to present on “Guns in America” at the annual conference of the Outdoor Writers Association of America yesterday (6 October 2021). I discussed “Gun Culture 2.0 and the Changing Face of Gun Owners in America.”
I was fairly certain that the presentation would not be recorded, so before I left for Jay, Vermont I recorded an abbreviated (15 minute) version of my talk from my basement studio and uploaded it to YouTube.
Late in 2020 an editor from the online magazine Discourse contacted me to see if I wanted to write anything about my work on American gun culture for them. The invitation provided an excellent opportunity for me to formalize some of my scattered thoughts on the Great Gun-Buying Spree of 2020. I quickly agreed.
Although there are and have always been new guns owners every year, the Great Gun Buying Spree of 2020 may entail more new gun owners than normal. It has certain generated more interest in new gun owners than normal.
The COVID-19 pandemic compounded by the George Floyd protests and riots mixed with the boogaloo/CW2/Great Awakening V leading up to a hotly contested presidential election created unprecedented pressures to get the Gun Curious off the fence and into gun ownership.
This post collects various stories and studies I have come across that emphasize new gun owners, especially in 2020, but also earlier. If you know of other works to be included, please post them in the comments.
The great gun buying spree(s) of 2020 have raised the issue of NEW GUN OWNERS. We have no reliable data on how many of those millions of NICS checks being run this year are for people who are buying a gun for the first time. Anecdotal evidence suggests a short answer of A LOT.