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.

New “Light Over Heat” videos are released on YouTube every Wednesday, so please surf over to my YouTube channel and SUBSCRIBE to follow, RING THE BELL to receive notifications, and SHARE so others can learn about this work.

The Standard Model of Explaining the Irrationality of Defensive Gun Ownership

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.

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A Sociology of Firearms for the Twenty-First Century – Editor’s Introduction Now Available

Although the printed journal is not due out until February 2022, by the magic of the internet, the articles appearing in the special issue of Sociological Perspectives that I co-edited are now available online (though mostly pay-walled, sorry).

The Special Issue Editors’ Introduction that Trent Steidley and I wrote, A Sociology of Firearms for the Twenty-First Century, was published online last week.

Far from just a summary of the articles in the special issue, Trent and I tried to stand back and put those articles in a broader scholarly context that highlights why they are important to advancing a sociology of firearms for the twenty-first century.

Give it a read and let me know what you think. If you have trouble accessing the text, please let me know!

Concealed Carry Revolution Book Available Now

Despite the profound significance of the issue, no comprehensive but concise history of concealed carry laws in the United States yet exists. Concealed Carry Revolution seeks to fill this gap. It is available right now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or by special order through your favorite local bookstore. An electronic version should also be available soon.

An even better way to get a copy of the book is to make a small donation in support of my work through my “Buy Me a Coffee” page (like Patreon). Those who sign up as annual members will receive a free signed copy of the book and monthly supporters will receive a free electronic copy as a “Thank You!”

This small book (100 pages including extensive notes) was originally written as a chapter in my larger book on Gun Culture 2.0 on which I continue to work. As the chapter grew longer and the focus of that work shifted, I found myself with a great deal of material which had no obvious outlet.

If you happen to get a copy of the book, I would appreciate your review (honest, if necessary) on Amazon.com, Goodreads, or your favorite book review site.

As always, I am grateful for your interest in and support of my work in telling the story of American gun culture.

Buy me a drinkIf you want to support my work, please buy me a drink

Gun Culture 3.0? I Don’t Think So (Not Yet)

I have been trying to understand what I call, following gun journalist Michael Bane, Gun Culture 2.0 for over 10 years now. I am currently in a race to finish my book on the topic before Gun Culture 3.0 arrives.

I have not yet seen any convincing evidence that American gun culture has reached a new evolution, but recently some scholars have claimed it has. I refer to a press release from the Boston University School of Health, screen capped below.

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Women, the NRA, and Gun Culture by Noah Schwartz

Although I was not a fan of NRATV generally, there were some programs I thought did a good job of trying to “build bridges, not walls.” Among these were shows aimed at incorporating more women in gun culture. So I was excited when I came across an academic article — “Called to Arms: The NRA, The Gun Culture & Women” in Critical Policy Studies — that analyzed some of these programs like Love at First Shot.

I was going to write a summary of the article, but then it occurred to me that the author himself might do a better job of sharing his ideas on the topic. I am pleased that Noah S. Schwartz (see about the author at the end) agreed, and his thoughts are below.

(If you cannot access the original article behind the paywall, send me an email and I can send you a copy for educational purposes.)

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Not So Hidden Humor in Gun Owners’ YouTube Videos by Connie Hassett-Walker

In my work on gun culture, I have systematically avoided collecting systematic data on gun culture online. True, I have spent time with and attended a seminar by YouTube star John Correia of Active Self Protection. But I just don’t have the stomach to wade into many online gun forums or follow too much gun social media.

Fortunately, other scholars are braver than I am. Among them is Connie Hassett-Walker. Following on her recent book, Guns on the Internet (Routledge, 2019), she offers some examples of and reflections on humor in gun owners’ YouTube video here.

In the conclusion to her book (and in an essay on The Conversation), she issues “The 100 YouTube Video Challenge.” Designed to inspire open-mindedness and empathy for those on the other side of the gun debate, the challenge entails watching 100 YouTube videos “showcasing something from the opposing side.” Not only that, “but identifying three things in the videos they watch to which they could relate” (p. 131).

Here she gives those on the gun control side 8 pro-gun videos to get them started toward their 100. Please suggest other videos from either side of the debate in the comments.

By Connie Hassett-Walker

I imagine what you’re thinking. ‘Gun videos’… ‘humor’… what?

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Gun Studies, Peer Review, and Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind

I reviewed articles for two scholarly journals yesterday, one of which was quite good and one of which had a very good empirical analysis embedded in a badly biased introduction and conclusion.

It becomes more and more challenging to maintain my equanimity as I review articles which have such clear implicit — and, frequently, explicit — biases. In fact, not long ago my frustration boiled over onto Twitter and I nearly got in trouble for violating the confidentiality of the peer review process.

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What’s Next? Understanding and Misunderstanding America’s Gun Culture (Book Chapter)

A couple of years ago, I was asked to write the concluding chapter to a book called Understanding America’s Gun Culture. My chapter would be titled, “What’s Next?”

Unfortunately, chapters in edited scholarly books are where ideas go to die. As one scholar put it: “Quite simply, if you write a chapter for an edited book, you might as well write the paper and then bury it in a hole in the ground.”

In the interest of NOT burying my ideas, here’s my chapter on “Understanding and Misunderstanding America’s Gun Culture.”