“For the first 42 years of life, I had never even handled a real gun, much less shot one.”David Yamane, “Getting Into Gun Culture 2.0,” 22 May 2012
So read the first line of my first post on this blog, 10 years ago today.
The story I tell in that blog post remains an accurate recounting of how I got into guns and, more importantly, Gun Culture 2.0. It was the beginning of an incredible journey that brought together my personal experiences of gun ownership and professional observations of gun culture. I am still on that journey today. Still trying to understand myself and the world better. And still writing as I go.
I can be a pretty nostalgic person, so I am going to indulge that tendency today by reflecting on some aspects of my decade wandering around gun culture.
When I began this blog, I was quite new to guns and gun culture. In fact, part of the reason I started this blog was that I was so new to the study of guns that I had no scholarly standing to speak on the issue.
Since then, I have logged 799.5 hours of field observation of organized gun events (especially gun training), not including hundreds of hours of television programs, DVDs, and streaming videos I have watched, podcasts I have listened to or participated in, mundane visits to gun ranges and stores, class field trips to the gun store/range, and so on.
Today, I feel much more confident speaking as an expert on guns and gun culture to a variety of audiences. This, of course, includes fellow scholars in the gun studies community, even those whose primary interest is in public health approaches to gun violence prevention (e.g., my presentation earlier this spring at UConn-Hartford). It includes speaking to the media when they call (e.g., the online news organization Newsy just recently). And speaking directly to the gun-owning and gun non-owning public through podcasts and webinars.
I also feel more confident speaking about my own career as a gun owner. A real coming-out moment for me was when I told my story publicly in a talk called “Gun Culture 2.0, or How a Liberal Professor Became an Armed American,” at the 2019 National Firearms Law Seminar (see my 37-minute YouTube video of that talk, or read the transcript here).
The positive reception that the presentation received encouraged me to scrap my thoughts of publishing a book that would primarily be of interest to other scholars and to try to write a book that would attract a broad audience of people already convinced, just curious, or increasingly concerned about guns in America.
I recently completed a proposal for Gun Curious: A Liberal Professor’s Journey through America’s Evolving Culture of Firearms, which is in the hands of a developmental editor right now. If all goes well, an agent will be shopping the proposal to publishers this summer.
[Side note: The small book, Concealed Carry Revolution: Liberalizing the Right to Bear Arms in America, which I self-published last year was originally supposed to be one of the chapters of that scholarly book on guns.]
As some readers here know, in February 2019 I started a second blog called GUN CURIOUS. I did so because it seemed most of the readers of this blog are already converted to guns, including many true believers. I wanted to try to reach those who, like me for the first 42 years of my life, didn’t really know anything about guns, and who, like me, got curious about them. The tagline for the Gun Curious blog is: “For those interested but unsure about guns.”
Although I still pour a lot of time and energy into these two blogs, the reality is that readership peaked a couple of years ago. I hear I am not alone in this.
But I have no complaints. To this day I remain flattered when anyone gives some of their precious time and attention to my writing. Thank YOU for reading this far.
In 2012, this blog had 130 visitors and 540 page views. Since then, it has had over 1 million page views by nearly half a million visitors. To me that is incredible.
Still, in my continuing efforts to reach new audiences, in January 2022 I launched a YouTube channel called “Light Over Heat with Professor David Yamane.” The motto “Light Over Heat” has appeared on this blog from the start.
If there is an arena of social life that generates more animosity (heat) than insight (light) than guns, I don’t know what it is. The videos I post on YouTube seek to reverse that equation.
I have never directly monetized this blog, using my own money (much of it through my side hustle stringing tennis rackets) to subsidize its cost and the cost of doing my research over the years beyond the small amount I get from Wake Forest.
But I do sell Gun Culture 2.0/Guns Are Normal merch in a Teespring Store and make a few hundred dollars a year off of that.
I also accept contributions directly from patrons (either on a one-time or ongoing basis) through Buy Me a Coffee (a Patreon alternative). The encouragement I feel when people support me in this way actually goes a lot further than the money.
I’m not sure if I have another 10 years of blogging in me, but even if I don’t post again on Gun Culture 2.0 (don’t worry, I will), I feel satisfied with the body of work assembled here.