I just got done listening to an hour-long interview with an academic, David Yamane, who considers himself to be uniquely situated in the gun debate because he claims to be the only scholar who is interested in what he refers to as the ‘sociology’ of gun ownership. He’s not a criminologist, he’s not a public health researcher, he’s doing something very different from the academics in both those fields. He’s trying to figure out why, in many part of the country, guns are considered a ‘normal part of life.’

              What he believes he has figured out since he started the sociological investigation into guns is that roughly one-third of all Americans haven’t figured out how they feel about guns. One-third of Americans are strongly against guns; one-third are strongly in favor guns; and one-third, according to Professor Yamane’s sociological research, haven’t made up their minds one way or the other. Yamane explains this breakdown in an interview that you can access right here.

              This division of opinion about gun ownership, according to Yamane, explains the tremendous upsurge in guy sales that has occurred alongside the spread of Covid-19. Yamane argues that the demand for guns reflects not just current gun owners buying more guns, but members of the ‘I haven’t made up my mind about guns’ group buying their first gun.

              Like everyone else who writes about guns, I have also been trying to figure out who is buying all those guns over the past year. And since Yamane claims to be a scholar and a researcher, I assumed that somewhere I would find the research he has conducted to not only divide Americans into three groups in terms of what they think about guns, but I would also be able to look at his research which explains why so many new gun owners are buying their first guns.

              Unless Yamane has updated but not yet posted his academic CV on the Wake Forest website, which is where he happens to teach, his last scholarly article was published in 2018, which is well before the ‘Chinese flu’ came ashore.  He did publish an article in 2020 that covered the shift in gun advertisements in American Rifleman magazine from hunting to self-defense guns, but this article didn’t identify who was even reading those ads, never mind going out and buying all those self-defense guns.

              So how does Yamane know that the 2020 spike in gun sales can be explained because one-third of Americans who previously did or maybe didn’t like guns, all of a sudden decide that they wanted to own a gun? 

              First, Yamane went to some gun shows where he met people who told him they were buying their first gun. Then he accessed a really reliable source, the gun-industry’s trade group, the NSSF, which estimates “that 40% of all gun purchasers in 2020 did not currently own guns.”

              That’s how a tenured academic does sociological research which he claims is based on the demographics of people who buy guns? By walking around a couple of guns shows and then repeating an ‘estimate’ by an outfit which promotes the gun industry?

              Again, I’m not saying that Yamane’s right, or that Yamane’s wrong. But if he really wants to conduct some serious and valid research on what he calls Gun Culture 2.0, particularly on whether people previously uninvolved with this culture are now buying guns, there’s a very simple way to go about conducting such work.

              All Yamane has to do is walk into a few gun shops and tell the owner he would like to take a look at the store’s collection of 4473 forms. These forms contain the date of birth and the gender of every person who ever bought a gun in that store. You can even get the buyer’s height and weight. Most gun shops also keep their record in Excel, so Yamane could do a word search and quickly figure out how many customers bought guns in that shop for the first time.

              I’m still waiting for David Yamane or any other academic scholar to learn a little something about the gun industry before they go out to do their research.  As always, I’m happy to help them out.

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