Taking Fire from “The Gun Community”

I wrote recently about how gun culture, both overall and Gun Culture 2.0 specifically, is not monolithic. Not a major revelation, but something worth reminding myself of periodically. Thankfully, occasionally others lend a hand and remind me that “the gun community” is not a single, homogenous entity. This happened recently.

I consider myself a member of the gun community, at the same time I attempt to sociologically understand it. Being a part of, rather than standing apart from, Gun Culture 2.0 is one of the things that makes my work different from most gun scholars today. In fact, one of the selling points of the book I am trying to find a publisher for right now is that I weave together my personal experiences and sociological observations of becoming a gun owner to take readers inside American gun culture in a way no book yet has.

This is why I have expressed frustration recently that publishers don’t seem to think there is a market for the “unique kind of thoughtful middle ground” I try to occupy in America’s overheated debates over guns. They would rather publish a book about Guns and the Salvation of American Democracy or Guns and the Demise of American Democracy.

I am still hopeful that a publisher will see the merits of my project. Trying to motivate myself through nearly 20 rejections, I updated my Gun Culture 2.0 Facebook page’s profile picture. I used an image of myself wearing a shirt I bought from Redstone Firearms underneath my dress shirt and blazer. It reads, “Gunologist.” It’s cool and funny and rolls off the tongue more easily than “Sociologist of Guns.”

I am also trying to stay motivated by remembering why I got into guns in the first place. In this blog’s inaugural post, nearly 11 years ago now, I reported on my first time shooting a gun: “It was fun and I was hooked.” (I also tell this story in my “How a Liberal Professor became an Armed American” talk.) More recently, I quoted the Republican strategist Rick Wilson, “Americans F*&$a^# Love Guns.”

So, I used the occasion of YouTube’s deletion and subsequent reinstatement of videos with suppressed firearms to re-post a video from my “Light Over Heat” YouTube channel in which I visited with Karl Rehn and John Daub from KR Training in Texas and shot three different guns just for the fun of it. As I said at the end of the video, it was “fun and instructive, which is the best kind of fun.” For me, at least.

In response to all of this recent activity, a representative of America’s gun culture (with 24K Facebook followers) posted the following on my Facebook page (which has 10X fewer followers).

Maybe the publishers who are passing on my book because they don’t believe there is a market for a thoughtful middle ground on guns are right?

So, back to the drawing board (i.e., Adobe Express), I’ve mocked a revised book cover that leans into the heat-over-light ethos that characterizes America’s culture war over guns. Give the people what they want, right?

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  1. Hello Professor Yamane,

    I am a blue collar, 62 year old male, who has been shooting firearms since I was in grammar school. I am an Army veteran, and a retired police officer of 30 years. I tend to be conservative in most matters. I suspect that there is much that we view differently, but I was very disappointed by the comments made by Art and Steel. I consider myself to be a member of the Gun Culture, and I do respect your thoughts, and opinions.

    It is my opinion that the comments made by Art and Steel, are a large part of the problem facing our culture. If we do lose our right to possess and use firearms it will largely be due to attitudes such as his.

    I have been a volunteer Range Safety Officer at a state owned firearms range for a number of years. I have been pleasantly surprised a number of times, when a “non traditional” firearms owner has arrived at the range, to learn about firearms, and how to shoot. Their reasons for the interest vary, but each of them have expressed trepidation at the thought of going to a shooting range, where they feared ridicule, and hostility.

    I believe they all ended up enjoying their experiences, and some became regulars. I enjoyed dispelling their fears that we were all Neantderthals, and I enjoyed getting to know them.

    I fear for the future of firearm ownership in this country, and the misconception that we are mostly people like Art and Steel. I enjoy your work very much, and I think it is critical to our continued right to own firearms.

    Respect, understanding and civility will do more for our cause than anger and insults.

    I hope you do not get discouraged, Professor.

    I look forward to your book.

    Best regards,

    Kevin Mowry

    Liked by 5 people

  2. OK, two points.
    1. Never put metal on metal, or color on color. That book cover is both a violation of this rule and a massive eyesore.
    2. I wonder if there could possibly be a middle ground. I’m not inclined to believe that there is.

    Now for the explanations
    1. I was a herald in a medieval re-enactment society, the SCA. The very first rule you learn is “no metal on metal, no color on color.” The “metals” are Yellow and White (gold and silver) and the colors are Red, Blue, Green, Black, and Purple. You never put yellow on white because it lacks contrast. You never put red on blue because it also lacks contrast.

    If you pay attention to modern signage you will see that the good signs always follow this rule even if the people who made the signs couldn’t articulate the rule. Every informational road sign is shiny white lettering on a green background. You can read it from space. The “Shield” interstate signs are a blue field, a red chief, and a thin white border and a thin white line between them. The word “Interstate” is in white in chief and the road number (95) is in white on the blue. Again, you can read it from a long way off.

    If you’re ever making a sign, and book covers are basically a sign, follow this basic rule of contrast and you will have much more success.

    2. There’s a book title that says “There’s Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos,” by John Hightower. I’ve never read the book, but I’ve always thought that the title at least pointed to something true about society. People “in the middle” are generally fooling themselves. They don’t want to commit to a side but generally vote one side or the other. They wish there was a different candidate or a less strident version of one or the other candidate, but they generally vote their party. They’re the yellow lines. Afraid to commit, or more probably, afraid to admit. The true neutrals just get run over because no one wants to hear them. They’re the dead armadillos.

    Besides, there’s no reason for gun owners to even consider moderating their tone. We’re running the table on the gun prohibitionists. They’ve been steadily losing since 1994 and Bruen represents the cliff to their Wiley E Coyote. They’re furiously writing their gun ban laws not yet realizing that they’ve run over the cliff. Why should we do anything other than pile on and get whatever we can in the process? They aren’t asking for a truce. They’re still impotently attacking. It’s time to crush them utterly and ruthlessly. It’s time to put a stake into the heart of gun control and end it forever.

    The good news for the Left, if there is any, is that once gun control is off the table for the Right to exploit during elections, millions of Americans will start voting for Democrat candidates. The Free Shit Army will eventually win. Hand out enough free shit and eventually you will gain power. “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury,” and all that. But as Maggie Thatcher put it, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” This will lead, inevitably, back the guns.


    • “It was a joke, son. A joke, I say, I say.” /foghornleghornvoice

      (“I was a herald in a medieval re-enactment society, the SCA.” I am Tamara’s absolute lack of surprise.)

      Liked by 4 people

  3. Out of curiosity, who did the review/”edit” of you book? A gun person or someone else? As a fairly conservative full time lecturer at a blue state University for 20 years and a shooter for over 50 years I tend to hide what I do from all but a select few so I understand how hard it would be to get it published. Have you thought of self publishing? You might want to contact Clayton E Cramer who published The Racist Roots of Gun Control as a paper and a book.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. First thing I thought of was “Good Grief, Charlie Brown….”

    I’ ve gotten used to taking incoming from both sides of the commenters in the local fish wrapper. Kinda goes with the territory. Plus, as some have pointed out, there is an egregious allergy in some segments of the gun/right wing community to anything resembling academics.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Art and Steel clearly is one of those internet commandos who writes before he reads. Your shooting background, along with research and other study, clearly qualifies you to be considered a “gunologist.” I for one enjoy your thoughtful, middle-of-the-road analysis – that, after 50 years of gunning (pistol, rifle and larger), police service, lawyer, prosecutor, etc.

    Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. 1) 60,000 reps of the same action, does not an expert make;

    2) That being said, I’ve created a bit more artwork and taken it to press than you. Please, please let me lay out a book cover for you gratis!

    3) Both the hardcore pro-gun and hardcore anti-gun crowd will only be interested in books that confirm their biases. The non-gun crowd don’t have a vested interest, so the issue may need to be repackaged as something that will pique their interest. ‘The salvation of our constitutional republic’ seems geared more toward one end of the political spectrum.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. As to the troll (Art and Steel), eh, meh, there is always one (or a legion) out there. Also, the more someone tells me I should recognize and respect them as an “expert” the more I question the veracity of their input (see Dunning-Kruger effect for more info).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Whenever I see someone like that, I am reminded of the cop, teaching a class, who said “I’m the only one” qualified to handle a loaded firearm in this room, right before he – literally – shot himself in the foot. Or the leg.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That cop (actually an ATF agent) was in fact the inspiration for the term “Only One”counted by David Codrea and now accepted as a common term of the gunternet.
        Definition: (usually) law enforcement type who propounds laws and infringements for which they claim exemption due to their ‘special status’.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Opinions are like fingerprints, and Art and Steel certainly isn’t shy about sharing his.

    The way I see it, the gun community is a big tent and everyone should be welcome. Anyone who doesn’t think so are part of the problems, not the answers.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. The democracy versus constitutional republic argument is out of date. It ignores the massive federal bureaucracy where unelected people try to control the population. The Covid lockdowns and mandated vaccines are good examples of what I mean.


  10. Cover needs more punctuation, drop some exclamation points in there. Also, perhaps a background photo of a bald eagle, crying a single tear. Really push home the patriotism and avoid accusations of being a crypto-commie with all that red. 😉


  11. Glad to see you’ve been back posting, as I am glad to be back commenting after a long hiatus as well. Quality vs. quantity, right?
    At least you didn’t use a shirt that says, “Gunocologist” 🙂 (I’ll have to get a physician friend who specializes in women’s health and is a shooter a shirt that says that or “OB-Gun”.)
    As for “Art and Steel,” he’s totally unaware of his own arrogance and, as Tam noted, massive bag of insecurity. Moreover, he is not at all representative of the vast majority of those who welcome any and all into our (dare I say it?) inclusive gun culture. Not long ago I was surveying the firing line at our range when I realized there was a representative or two from just about every race, ethnicity, political persuasion and sexual orientation on the line, all having a good time enjoying their common interest.
    Indeed, there are a lot of commonalities between all of us, and guns and shooting sports help bridge the gaps foisted upon us by those intent on creating cultural divisions.
    BTW, one of my students last week is a Sociology major at Duke, and I referred her to your work as well as the archived work of William Aprill on PDN since she’s also interested in psychology. I think she’ll find it interesting and thought provoking.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Unless the object of the comment is doing something unsafe or ineffective, there is room for “that and…”. I can be an expert, and you can be an expert, and our expertise can be slightly different. Most gasoline mechanics don’t do diesel engines, but they’re both mechanics and have some principles in common.

    I’m an expert in a couple things. I’m a professional (I get paid to do it) in several other areas. Other professionals, whether their level of expertise is greater or less than mine, are not a threat to me or a reason to get upset when they claim some knowledge.


  13. My opinion (take it as you wish) is that your reply should have considered of three weeks: “Lighten up, Francis!”

    Bonus points for you if you get that pop culture reference, of course!

    Liked by 1 person

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