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Monday, December 7, 2009

Professorial Repose


 Book looks at how citizen-to-citizen communication changed gun policy
By Jon Strunk : December 4th, 2009 UTNEWS


If you read the newspapers and watched network news during the last few decades, you would have anticipated a growing chorus for tighter and stricter U.S. gun control. But the opposite has happened. Dozens of states have approved the right for licensed persons to carry concealed weapons.

Dr. Brian Anse Patrick, associate professor of communication, investigates this social paradox in his new book, Rise of the Anti-Media: In-Forming America’s Concealed Weapon Carry Movement.

According to Patrick, instead of the traditional, vertical model of the media informing the masses, the concealed-carry movement relied on horizontal communication between groups of citizens who banded together to lobby politicians from the grassroots, while informing their movement via their own “anti-media” systems, as Patrick terms them.

gun-book-cover“These were the very first people to go online. They were the first to effectively take advantage of desktop publishing and e-mailed newsletters. These people informed themselves of what was happening in local and state politics and lobbied for change,” Patrick said. “Once you were reading about these gun-rights efforts in the mass media newspapers, it was too late to counter the changes.”

Patrick’s book emphasizes the impotency of large media organizations — even at a time before their demise was predicted nightly on blogs — as the reporting on gun issues and culture of the time had little relation to the changes in law and the shift of society’s mood.

“There was a decision among many of these local and regional citizen groups to move incrementally as they lobbied for concealed carry,” Patrick said. “They would target local politicians they saw as obstacles and vote them out of office. And in local and state elections, a few hundred or a few thousand votes can be determinative.”

Further, Patrick said, while the national lobbying group the National Rifle Association certainly played a role, many of the advocates for concealed-carry laws were not raised with a tradition of gun ownership or hunting in their home.

“You have business women, minority and immigrant populations — not necessarily the types of people you think of when you think ‘gun culture’ — all joining together to push elected officials to either join the effort to establish concealed-carry law or at least get out of the way.

“Look around. Advocating gun control is a losing political issue right now,” Patrick said, “and if you’ve only been reading national mass media for the last few decades, you’d have no idea how that could have happened.”

Rise of the Anti-Media is published by Lexington Books and is Patrick’s second book; he is working on his third.


Brian Anse Patrick said...

On December 6, 2009, 13 honors students in my American Gun Policy class spent the day in a firearm safety and training class and a visit to the police range in Luna Pier, Michigan.

Brian Anse Patrick said...

Here is the introduction from the syllabus of my American Gun Policy Honors seminar.

Honors Seminar
HON 4950 Syllabus FALL 2009
American Gun Policy



Brian Anse Patrick
Department of Communication
4630 University Hall, University of Toledo
419 530 4670
Office Hours: T, 1-3, Th. 1-4.

American gun policy is a site where many lines of social influence converge. Symbolically speaking, it functions much like that fabled paradoxical location where irresistible forces meet up with immovable objects: e.g., the Million Moms March vs. the National Rifle Association; individual vs. collective rights; public health vs. individual autonomy; conservative vs. liberal values; local vs. federal authority; elite culture vs. egalitarian culture; propaganda vs. information; and the libertarians vs. everybody else. The list goes on. Accordingly, scholars and researchers have contributed to what has become a vigorous public and academic debate overlapping many disciplines: e.g., history, law, economics, public health, psychology, communication, criminology, sociology and others.

Ideologues abound in this area—and virtually everyone, ideologue or not, has what they feel to be a well-justified opinion on guns and gun policy. But having taken a serious interest in the debate for more than a decade, my impression is that people in general believe more about guns and gun policy than they really know; their general tendency being to seek out, perceive and interpret information in ways that align with their predispositions. Further, advocates and “experts” for and against guns cite and brandish scientific statistics and studies as proofs, yet few advocates appear ever to have actually read or understood the studies that they claim back up their positions. Compounding matters even more, American journalists who quote these advocates in news stories are notorious for poor, inaccurate, lazy and some say biased, reporting on gun issues.

The main purpose/goal of this seminar, therefore, is to provide a systematic overview of American gun policy, an overview informed by what is known—or alleged to be known—about guns by researchers and scholars.

The seminar will proceed mainly by means of (1) readings, presentations and discussions of primary source materials, e.g., research articles from scientific journals, book chapters, blogs, websites and papers presented at national conferences; (2) invited presentations and discussions with pro and anti-gun advocates and politicians who have played important parts in the debate and policy formation in Ohio and Michigan (and perhaps nationally if we can schedule visits or video-conferencing), and; (3) an occasional “talk” or overview of what I know (or think that I know) on particular areas of gun policy. Additionally, I have a number of video-recordings of panels on gun policy at national forums along with propaganda/educational pieces by various gun/antigun groups; we can select those that interest us most. The seminar is interdisciplinary by its nature. No prerequisite or background is required except an interest in the subject and willingness to read and thoughtfully participate.

Many of the scholarly works that we will visit are controversial. Some works have made and unmade professional reputations

JZ said...

is your new ANTI-MEDIA book available in bookstores?

Brian Anse Patrick said...

Bookstores will order it for you, but you can also order it online from either the publisher, Lexington Books, or through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or other online sellers.

Neither of my books, to my knowledge, has ever been regularly stocked by a bookstore--except the bookstore at my University. This is books a because as an academic I have tended to use academic publishers. They market books to a more specialized audience, on the whole.