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.