If you read this blog you are probably familiar with the term Gun Culture 2.0. It is a reference to the newer American gun culture that has emerged in the past couple of decades that reflects changing American demographics and society. The authority on this social trend is a gentleman by the name of David Yamane who is a sociologist at Wake Forest University. If you have not followed his writing at his dedicated blog on the subject (which can be found here: https://gunculture2point0.wordpress.com ) I highly recommend it.
One of the reasons I find Yamane’s work so interesting is that he comes from a background that is the very antithesis of gun culture. I have heard him state on several interviews that he grew up in a very liberal and politically blue environment. I think this gives him a very fresh outlook on things compared to most folks who are steeped in the more traditional backgrounds that foster gun culture embrace. One of the most beneficial lessons to be learned from his work and his well-rounded perspective on the topic is the reminder that…………………
The Second Amendment applies to everyone. The fact that one of our founding principles of personal liberty has become a contested political topic is truly sad. While the debate over firearms freedoms is as red hot as it ever was, one of the refreshing things of note is that Gun Culture 2.0 is comprised of a fairly politically, ethnically, and socially diverse group of people. As members of the gun culture we tend to get hostile towards those who threaten our beloved freedoms. However, we often wrestle with who precisely this political adversary is. I have many friends and family members who are as liberal as it gets, yet are solidly 2A. I also have those which are very traditionally conservative yet are anti-gun. The predominant attack on 2A comes from the left, there is no denying that, but it is hardly a rule. I think the new gun culture has indeed seen much crossover in political and social ideology which is a great thing.
Yamane came to Gun Culture 2.0 from a very liberal and blue background which I find fascinating due to my own background; namely, the complete opposite. I grew up in the hills on a farm and I was hunting deer in my early teens. I remain a lover of that lifestyle. However, in my college years I became enamored with much of what can only be considered liberal and yuppie, and I still embrace much of it to this day. I love the ballet, Broadway shows, art museums, and I have been to the hottest clubs in LA and DC. (That sound you are hearing is all the bearded tactical dudes closing their browser windows never to return to ReflexHandgun.com). So, while coming from the rural and conservative background that may be more broadly associated with gun culture I am hardly out of touch with the urban scene. Whether walking the hills with a rifle or at an art exhibit with a snubby concealed under formal clothing, being armed is ubiquitous to my experience, no matter the surrounding society.
I am also intimately familiar with what we can refer to as Gun Culture 1.0, the older American gun culture (not that I am old….. damn, I am getting old) Gun culture 1.0 is primarily based on rural life and hunting. The firearm in this culture is simply a tool that is considered similar to an axe, a tractor, a hammer. It is a necessity in that world even for the farmer or other rural dweller who did not hunt. As only an adolescent I did a lot of hunting and this was the norm in the rural hills of the north east. Every kid that I knew in the vicinity hunted deer and small game. This was the primary role of the firearm in that culture at that time. Every home in those hills had a plethora of shotguns and rifles. However, a handgun was as rare as a four leaf clover. Except in my home.
I have to say that I was more a member of GC 2.0 than of 1.0 even back then. I was privileged to grow up with a father that was a firearms instructor as part of his job for a particular state agency. The defensive handgun, even at that time, was my father’s specialty, despite the fact that he was an avid hunter. Being from an older generation my father had trained with Bill Jordan, Jimmy Cirillo, and some other greats. He also stayed abreast of the latest and greatest in gear and technique. By the late eighties he had moved from the revolver to a Browning Hi Power. By the early 90s he was carrying a Glock. I was, from the beginning, more interested in the defensive application of the firearm, particularly the handgun, than I was in just hunting with long guns. The focus on self-defense rather than sporting is indeed a significant element in GC 2.0 compared to 1.0 and I had the opportunity to watch the shift happen over the decades since.
My final observation that I will share with you concerning the differences between old gun culture and our modern one is this: old gun culture viewed the firearm as a much more mundane and taken for granted item. Everyone had a long gun in the house, if not many. It was the norm, and it was just a fixture in daily life. Therefore, in a sense the firearm was more socially acceptable in decades past. For example, many people not much older than myself will relate their experiences in public school of walking to school with a rifle and locking it up in a locker so that they could go hunting directly after class. Wow, things have changed.
For Gun Culture 2.0 we face the opposing societal view on guns that has become much less tolerant. However, 2.0 is comprised of a much more dedicated core of individuals that are into guns because we like guns and the sovereignty of the individual that they represent, not because it is just a mundane part of the toolbox only used in late November. There is a much stronger focus on the tactical application of firearms, of course, and the weaponry itself is much more tactical than it was. The emphasis has gone from hunting to fighting, and I think that is a good thing. Hunting is still alive and well but there are sadly less people involved than there once was. However, having a lot of gunfighters in a society that is softening by the day may be our only hope.
Whether you are a coyote shooting good ol’ boy, a tactical Timmy with sleeve tats, or a yuppie who attends the opera with a 38 Snub always in your pocket, we are all on the same side as we believe in freedom. That is my two cents.
If you want to get the details on this cultural shift and the modern gun community check out Yamane’s work at https://gunculture2point0.wordpress.com/