Trying to Model a Civil Discussion on Guns

Some time ago over lunch, my friend and I had a very productive and civil conversation about guns. We both have connections to Wisconsin and Wake Forest University, play tennis together, enjoy drinking gin and tonics, and share most of our political views in common. We are alike in many ways — most ways, probably — except for our relationship to and views on guns.

In the wake of the massacre in Las Vegas, he invited me to stop by the local NPR affiliate, WFDD on the campus of Wake Forest University, to try to recreate that conversation. Although it is impossible to have a completely relaxed, free flowing conversation with a microphone in your face, we spoke for nearly 90 minutes about any number of different issues concerning guns and gun culture in America. He distilled those 90 minutes down to 5 good minutes. Have a read or listen and see what you think.

Among the material that ended up on the cutting room floor was him trying and not always succeeding in formulating coherent questions and me trying and not always succeeding in formulating coherent answers. This is totally appropriate because the issues are complex. I wrote my first blog post over 5 years ago. I have taught a course on the Sociology of Guns three times. I have published two scholarly articles (one general and one on religion and guns), have three book chapters in the works, and am half way through a book project on gun culture. And I don’t feel I know much at all about guns in American society.

I hope I take my own advice in this short interview segment: Beware simple answers. They are reassuring but may not achieve the desired results given our framework of government, practical realities, and the flawed nature of human beings.


  1. Its hard to do one of these “turn 90 minutes into five” without a lot of loss of content. I must have spent about 90 minutes talking to Kerry Shaw ofThe Trace (probably more, as there were several follow up calls and emails), and that was cut down to about a five or ten minute read.

    I think the important thing to do is reach out and start that civil conversation. Hopefully the NPR affiliate now has you in its “Rolodex” when the topic comes up, rather than rounding up the usual suspects. Thanks for doing that.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. In the case of permitting. When looking at may-issue carry permit regimes, in California, which is useful due to the variation between counties on permit rules, I believe the data showed a clear racial bias in issuance in the counties that were not effectively shall-issue. There is definite class-based bias present in places like NYC.

    In any event, the “Blue” standard for other restrictions, hiring, voting, etc, where race-based restrictions existed in the past is not tsking the now objective rules as written, but a standard based on the assumed submerged racism that “must still exist.”

    So, as far as permits go, consistency on their part should demand any call for renewed use of permits be held to equal scrutiny with equal skepticism. But it won’t, because shut up.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve just about reached the point were a rational civil discussion with the other side is impossible because the other side is neither rational nor civil in it’s writings, speeches, laws or anything I’ve seen.


  4. I am “th(e) Mandatory Carry faggot” (I confess, I kinda like that derisive title), and even I understand “simple answers are ‘ussually’ wrong.”
    Sadly, too many are unable and unwilling to even attempt to have any kind of SERIOUS duscussion; From “assault is an act not a thing” to “muskets, just as deadly now as in the revolution” (both are actual quotes), they’ve become so obsessed with the Cake Theory that they WON’T (not can’t) act like adults.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.