The American Sociological Review was founded in 1936 as the official publication of the American Sociological Society. (The ASS was founded in 1906, and was apparently unaware of acronyms until 1959 when it changed its name to the American Sociological Association.)

The ASR remains the flagship journal of the ASA, and is one of the top 2 US journals in the field (the other being the American Journal of Sociology). It is a difficult journal to publish in because peer reviewers and editors set a very high bar for acceptable quality.

Recently I was asked to review an article submitted in my former area of expertise, the sociology of religion. I responded that I did not want to review the submission because I am not longer working principally in the sociology of religion, but I would be happy to review any submissions received on the topic of guns or gun culture.

An editorial assistant kindly responded to tell me that the key word “religion” was removed from my reviewer profile so I would no longer be sent manuscripts on that topic, but no key word existed in their database for “firearms,” “guns” or “gun culture” so they could not be added to my profile.

This is telling and reflective of the reality of what is published about guns and gun culture in sociology.  To find an article in the ASR about guns that isn’t primarily about gun violence or crime, you have to go back nearly 30 years to 1988 for an article by Douglas Smith and Craig Uchida called “The Social Organization of Self-Help: A Study of Defensive Weapon Ownership” or 1980 and 1981 for articles by Alan Lizotte and David Bordua on “Firearms Ownership for Sport and Protection.”

Without the modifier “violence,” guns are simply not a key word in sociology.

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