Fun Finds in The American Rifleman from 2003

I am having so much fun with my project systematically analyzing the content of gun advertising in The American Rifleman from 1917 to 2017 . Although my students and I are only supposed to be looking at the ads, it’s hard not to pay some attention to the magazine content, too. (See also these brief posts if you’re interested: The American Rifleman from July 1927, January 1937, December 1967, and Guns magazine August 1966.)

In the February 2003 issue, we find the ballot for the 2003 election of the National Rifle Association directors. #1 on the ballot is man-myth-legend Jeff Cooper of Paulden, AZ.

I wonder if the ballot positions are randomly drawn? Seems improbable. Cooper’s election bio is pretty impressive, though.

Also in this issue we find a brief story about former Emory University history professor Michael Bellesiles having his Bancroft Prize rescinded. It’s old news now, but interesting to see when it was breaking news.

On the page opposite the Bellesiles story is a criticism of a study about guns and homicide published in the American Journal of Public Health. While it is not surprising that the NRA would criticize this research, the author’s humorous approach of drawing on “Casablanca” to make a point about “the usual suspects” as authors of the research made me chuckle. Beginning with Capt. Louis Renault’s instruction: “Major Strasser has been shot. Round up the usual suspects.” And concluding with Renault’s report to Maj. Strasser: “Realizing the importance of the case, my men are rounding up twice the usual number of suspects.”

And it is interesting to see that the “Top Guns 2003” (at least the ones that made the cover) were a shotgun and a lever action rifle. I had to make sure I was looking at 2003 not 1903.

I’ll be sharing more tidbits from various issues of the magazine as we go along. I wish I had the time to read every issue from 1917 until today. It really provides an interesting window onto the changing character, as well as some enduring realities, of America’s gun culture.

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