The Problem with Averages in Understanding Guns, Violence, and Crime: No One Lives in “The United States”

The problem with averages is that there is no “United States of America” when it comes to guns, violence, and crime, but many Americas. Some of these Americas – like my neighborhood in Winston-Salem – are more like our first world counterparts in the OECD, and some of them are more like the third world … Continue reading The Problem with Averages in Understanding Guns, Violence, and Crime: No One Lives in “The United States”

Poverty and Racial Attitudes

One of the most significant books I read as an undergraduate was Racial Attitudes in America: Trends and Interpretations, by sociologists Howard Schuman, Charlotte Steeh, and Lawrence Bobo (1985). (A revised edition was published in 1998 by Harvard University Press.) In fact, my first ever academic conference presentation (at the Western Anthropology/Sociology Undergraduate Research Conference at … Continue reading Poverty and Racial Attitudes

Scrutinizing Claims About Guns in Homes as a “Risk Factor” for Homicide in the Home

Getting into the sociology of guns has been both fascinating and frustrating. The fascination comes from deeply immersing myself in something entirely new to me. The frustration comes in attempting to understand the reality of guns in a scholarly – that is, objective and nuanced – manner. In the sociology of guns, the line demarcating … Continue reading Scrutinizing Claims About Guns in Homes as a “Risk Factor” for Homicide in the Home

Gun Digest Magazine Shows How NOT to Create a Pie Chart

Thumbing through the February 13, 2014 issue of Gun Digest magazine, I was excited to see data on a recent survey of first-time gun buyers, attributed to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the shooting, hunting and firearms industry. Two pie charts, shown below, describe (1) the percentage of new shooters … Continue reading Gun Digest Magazine Shows How NOT to Create a Pie Chart

The Most Rational Fear According to Michael Glassner: Guns

In a previous post I discussed sociologist Michael Glassner’s argument about the “culture of fear” that pervades America, especially the fear-mongering that takes place around very rare and anomalous events like public mass murders, especially at schools. In his book, Glassner uses the example of the 1997-98 string of school shootings in Pearl (MS), West … Continue reading The Most Rational Fear According to Michael Glassner: Guns