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Wed 10/18, 2023, 7:30pm
Jennifer Carlson with Dr. Frederick Rivara
Using Politics to Sell Firearms
Headshots of Jennifer Carlson (with fair skin and blonde wavy bob) and Dr. Frederick Rivara (with short brown/gray hair and eyeglasses)

When we talk about the issue of guns in this country, we talk about more than just the weapons themselves. Especially when we switch focus to the merchants who sell firearms.

Though most gun owners are still conservative, leading into 2020, new buyers were more likely to be liberal than existing owners. The change in demographic left gun merchants with the choice to either embrace the new liberal customer base or reinvigorate the conservative base by doubling down on gun politics. Ultimately firearm vendors chose the latter.

Sociologist and author, Jennifer Carlson, digs into the aftermath of this decision in her new book, Merchants of the Right. Carlson describes the way gun sellers mobilized mainstays of modern conservative culture—armed individualism, conspiracism, and partisanship—as they navigated the uncertainty and chaos unfolding around them. Quicker than ever, firearm merchants rushed to re-assert that gun politics are conservative politics.

Ultimately Carlson concludes that we must reckon with the everyday politics that divide us if we ever hope to engage in a true democracy.

Join us at Town Hall to hear from MacArthur Genius Grant winner, Jennifer Carlson, on modern gun culture in America, and what can be done about it.

Jennifer Carlson is Professor of Sociology at Arizona State University, where she will be founding the BRIDGS Center: Bringing Research & Innovation into the Debate on Guns in Society. In 2022 she was awarded a MacArthur ‘Genius’ grant for her research into how guns shape American life, including those who survive gun violence’s harrowing aftermath, police who enforce the country’s complex gun laws, gun sellers and retailers who are on the front lines of surges in gun purchasing, and the people who choose to own and carry guns. She is the author of Merchants of the RightPolicing the Second Amendment, and Citizen-Protectors.

Frederick P. Rivara MD, MPH – Dr. Rivara is the holder of the Seattle Children’s Guild Association Endowed Chair in Pediatrics, Vice chair and Professor of Pediatrics and adjunct Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Washington. He is editor-in-chief of JAMA Network Open following 17 years as Editor in Chief of JAMA Pediatrics. He served as founding director of the Harborview Injury and Research Center in Seattle and has devoted his career to studying injury and injury preventionHe has received numerous honors and was elected to the Institute of Medicine (now National Academy of Medicine) in 2005  

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