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.

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  1. Interesting. Did the reviewer have data on his assertion that new gun owners are buying guns to defend themselves against existing gun owners, or is that a hypothesis? Seems one can worry about that being the case but do we have interviews or other statistical data to know if that is documented or just a concern?

    When I saw the run on guns in Santa Fe, it seemed people were buying guns like they were hoarding toilet paper, i.e., out of a deep seated but faceless fear of the unknown we were quickly diving into. Sort of a Mad Max or Boy and His Dog fear. That’s why I ask. Plus, and I know this is not data, I’ve yet to see anything on my channels of social media indicating that old-school gun owners and new ones are worried too much about a shooting war with each other. Sure, the occasional comment. But were that the case, i.e., people are arming up against each other, nothing good can come of that.


    • Sorry this slipped through the comment cracks, but you are right that the reviewer was just floating a hypothesis. There is no data on the question. I wish I had more time to do some interviewing with new gun owners to ferret this out. I do not entirely concede the reviewers’ point, and I will maintain that most new gun owners were reacting to the general state of social uncertainty and social unrest of 2020+ — as you note about gun buying being like toilet paper hoarding, a point I have also made somewhere if I could only find it. But I also do know some people who bought guns because they were concerned about the armed “good guys” out there policing the world.


  2. Interesting take on the explanation of why some people are now new gun owners. I can definitely see that perspective out there about polarized or extreme groups demonstrating with guns. I also think a lot of new gun owners are here because of fear of crime, and especially an increase in violent crime.

    One thing that I didn’t hear was the definition of “gun owner” in the paper (admittedly, I only know what I saw in the video. By a reasonable definition, anyone that owns a gun, legally or otherwise, is a “gun owner.” Many criminals own guns for the same reason as many non-criminals – to protect themselves from criminals.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry for the slow reply but thanks for watching and commenting. I agree with you that most new gun owners are gun owners for the same reason that most gun owners are today: self-defense. I wouldn’t say it is always in response to crime per se, but also a general feeling of uncertainty about the world and also a response to social unrest (which isn’t exactly the same as crime). Looking at it this way is also helpful because “fear of crime” doesn’t predict gun ownership uniformly in statistical studies.

      This also connects to your second point, which is that most criminal gun owners are gun owners for the same reason that most gun owners are today: to protect themselves from (other) criminals. Arguably, given their chosen line of work, they need guns for protection far more than I do in my relatively safe suburban existence.


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