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Whither Gun Culture 3.0?

Whither Gun Culture 3.0?

My friend Michael Bane (along with another friend, Paul Earhardt) came up with the idea of “Gun Culture 2.0” to describe the shift they were seeing in American society. The previous gun culture, version 1.0, was all about hunting and calm, contemplative shooting sports like the clay shooting or Camp Perry. Gun Culture 2.0 is about personal defense and more action-oriented sports like 3 Gun or USPSA. Version 2.0 has been the dominant narrative in guns for at least 30 years, so much so that a 2021 survey found that 72 percent of American gun owners said that personal protection was why they owned a gun. 

Since then, there have been rumblings about what “Gun Culture 3.0” might look like. Most of them miss the mark, I think, because they focus on demographics and not the role that guns play in society. The most common version of Gun Culture 3.0 has to do with the amount of women and people of color who are buying guns, which some say represents the next steps. However, the reasons those groups are buying guns are the same as OFWGs* like me: Personal protection. It’d be like saying hunters saying “Gun Culture 2.0 will be all about more Iowans getting into hunting!” or “The next generation of shooters will compete in 25 Yard Free Pistol, not just 25 Yard Rapid Fire!” No one would think that new demographics or a new variant of an existing shooting activity would represent a fundamental shift in how Americans view hunting, yet the same thing keeps popping up with regards to Gun Culture 2.0. 

Rather, the transition from 1.0 to 2.0 came because of a shift in American society itself. America got more urban/suburban in the 50’s and 60’s, and hunting became harder to do on a regular basis. As a result, the reasons why we needed a gun changed. On top of this, the societal upheavals and perception of rising crime rates in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s altered our relationship with the police. Society had changed, and therefore, our (perceived) need for a gun had changed as well. 

As such, the next gun culture won’t come into being until American society changes yet again, and I believe that change is pointing towards a post nation-state environment that is similar to Belfast during the Troubles in Northern Ireland or Yugoslavia in the 90s. The next “civil war” won’t be North vs. South, it’ll be Marin County vs. Redding, St. Louis vs Springfield or D.C. vs. reality (and so far, D.C. is losing that one, and badly). 

Gun Culture 1.0 was focused on hunting, Gun Culture 2.0 is focused on personal protection, Gun Culture 3.0 will be focused on neighborhood protection, as the structures we have relied on to keep the peace start to disintegrate. Gun Culture 3.0 will have more martial elements than either previous versions, with night vision optics and body armor** playing a role similar to how the modern defensive pistol and the AR-15 plays a large role in today’s gun culture. Some of the more… imaginative versions of this future assume a competent and powerful Federal government, such as how the Brits ran Northern Ireland. However, I foresee a less competent .gov, like the Federales in Mexico or at worst, no .gov, like the former Yugoslavia. 

It may not be that drastic, and I really hope this doesn’t come to pass. I *love* this country, and I don’t want to see it torn apart. Maybe what we’ll see is something like the posses of the old west or the autodefensas in Mexico, where, yes, there was/is a larger governmental structure, but no, each town/neighborhood is more or less on their own. Or maybe it will be open rebellion instead. I hope not. Either way, I think we will see the individual right of firearms ownership being applied to the collective right of establishing a safe community, and that’s when Gun Culture 3.0 will be born. In a way, it’s American gun culture returning to its roots in the militias of the American Revolution, where colonists took up arms to defend a way of life that the ruling class was not willing to endorse. 

Sounds good in theory, but do I really want this? No, not really. I’m all in favor of smaller government, but the upheaval inherent in this sort of thing is painful to contemplate. However, the Blue State Model of government is drawing to a conclusion, and whatever comes next is going to once again alter the reasons why Americans own guns. 

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

– Yeats, “The Second Coming” 


Consider this: Both George Zimmerman and Kyle Rittenhouse had their encounters while using the individual right to keep and bear arms in the service of protecting a neighborhood.

*Old Fat White Guys. I didn’t used to be this old, and I didn’t used to be fat. The other two will never change. 

** Compare gun prices of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s to today. Everything is about the same, except high-quality optics are MUCH more affordable, and items like body armor, night vision gear and red dot sights, uncommon even 20 years ago, are commonplace and getting cheaper by the day.

This Post Has 14 Comments
  1. Am curious what OP thinks will become of accurate shooting. What OP calls “contemplative shooting” is about accuracy. The cited culture 2.0 practitioners (USPSA etc) arguably are rehearsing for urban fighting; the emphasis is on speed and closeness, and fine accuracy is not a consideration. As a result, most can’t hit anything outside 100 yards. Sustained aimed fire at midrange distances? Lolz. Ballistics? Drop? Wind? Does OP think it will matter? I am seeing a massive loss of shooting skills, in favor of thrilling fast shooting for the millenials and zoomers who have no attention span.

    1. Seems Swrichmond missed the point of the article. In current social contruct, engaging threats in an urban/suburban environment is about shooting inside of 100 meters,more likely inside of 25 meters. Maybe on a farm in rural America, the defender might engage more distant targets, but you will need a good lawyer to convince a jury that you were justified.

    2. The range I shoot at has moved beyond just USPSA to include things such as brutality matches. These are multigun matches combined with strenuous physical tests and shooting challenges with physical consequences that push the shooter out to 200 yards. The jersey wearing USPSA types don’t do very well in this type of test, and the people are coming out to fill the squads every other month. I see this as the beginnings of gun culture 3.0, and these shooters are going to have a massive head start on the festivities. Not to mention chest rigs that are shaken out and gear they have worn all day while crawling under heavy vehicles with a rifle, climbing over conex boxes, crawling through tunnels under electrified fence etc…

  2. You could also look at the difference in gun rights group. GC 1.0 was the NRA, focused on hunting and gun safety, and tended to be sort of reactive and reliant on the political process (legislative). GC 2.0 is GOA/FPC, a whole lot less passive, very in your face, filing lawsuits (judicial) and going on the offensive. What I hope to see from GC 3.0 is a recognition that there is more to the gun rights issue than simply focusing on specific attacks on the 2A and includes other issues that indirectly impact gun rights, like immigration.

  3. I’d say the distribution right now is like an inverse bell curve. In Gun Culture 1.0 most shooters were above average marksman by today’s standards, and those who were either poor or exceptional shooters found themselves a minority.

    Today, in Gun Culture 2.0, most are objectively poor shooters who never shoot past 100 yards (and consider a 6-8MOA group from a bench “really good”). Many more never even shoot farther than the 25yd bay at their indoor range. But on the flip side, long range shooting (500yd and up) is massively gaining popularity. While Camp Perry style matches of 1.0 are dying off, PRS matches and Outlaw 2-gun events are massively popular, and quite closely reflect the needs of a failed-state environment that Gun Culture 3.0 will likely represent.

  4. I appreciate your reply. From my comment you can probably tell I have been a critic of the USPSA-style games forever. Participants learn and have reinforced wrong skills: accepting poor sight picture, yanking rather than squeezing the trigger, never learning marksmanship fundamentals like NPA. IMO only experts who have already mastered the fundamentals should try to shoot fast, shoot while moving, shoot from barricades.

    I also believe if we transition to a WROL condition that hitting things at distance from cover or concealment will be a useful and practical skill upgrade.

    Shooting is well-understood to be a perishable skill, requiring regular practice for maintenance.

  5. As someone who started in NRA bullseye but has shot USPSA for 28 years, USPSA has morphed from semi-practical to a total game BUT, make no mistake, the people who are good practitioners have exceptional pistol skills against the clock, which is VERY real world skill. These people are used to shooting on the move, after running, and in contorted positions. The ones that are A, M, or GM ranked can easily shoot tiny targets (upper A zone, the “eye box” of a silhouette) at 25 yards with one hand. The guns do tend to be impractical as they are heavy, with tight tolerances, and almost all these days are equipped with a dot sight. The holsters are bulky and protrude too much. but most bullseye guns are just as impractical in the real world that would be 3.0, and in 3.0, second place is dead.

    Yes, USPSA is very much a game. The stages are ridiculous with huge numbers of targets arrayed in a maze and often test the shooter’s memory as much as their shooting skill. There are no tactics and the round counts often exceed 30 per stage. But the gun handling and practical marksmanship at speed is top notch. Handguns are for when you didn’t have time to get to a rifle, which implies things are happening up close and fast. But even in USPSA there are lessons to be learned for 3.0. The division that turns in the highest score isn’t a handgun division, it is PCC, pistol caliber carbine. A handgun takes years to master, but a PCC can be learned to the equivalent of Master level of a handgun relatively quickly. A short barreled PCC (with a pistol brace once that ATF rule gets overturned) equipped with a large diameter red dot is stunningly fast, super accurate, easy to shoot, and not too difficult to carry in a 3.0 world as a PDW.

  6. Some months ago I was reading a biography of Wyatt Earp. One thing that stuck in this OFWG skull of mine was the notion that in discussing law and order, order had to be established first. We cannot have law without order. And as the order of the past is being destroyed before our eyes, order must be reestablished before we can have meaningful laws. I’m afraid that we will endure much pain before order is restored. None of us are immune to what is coming. It will look different from place to place, but the pain will be there.

  7. Forget 3.0, were headed for 5.0, 15 million military age invaders on our soil will be activated once the Democrats accept the horrific realization they have no chance to win in 2024. They will cut off thire phones,internet, atm debit cards,food stamps, housing,medical and blame White Supremacist’s- that’s you and me. They will be whipped into such a frenzy that they will actually believe the homes in the suburbs, the cars, and yes the woman and children are rightfully thires for the taking. Sound nuts eh? Yeah open borders and manufactured virus and losing a war sounded nuts 20 years ago didn’t it?

    1. Your comment and the one below by “Richard” are the only ones that are close to reality. We are beginning to experience fifth generation warfare; your government vs. YOU. They will pit one group against another, on purpose, to burn it all down and rule the ashes. No one is coming to save you, not Trump, no one other than yourself. The political casino was rigged a long time ago and we are the marks.

  8. Kevin,
    You write, “The next ‘civil war’ won’t be North vs. South, it’ll be Marin County vs. Redding, St. Louis vs Springfield or D.C. vs. reality (and so far, D.C. is losing that one, and badly).” And that GunCulture3.0 will be ‘Neighborhoods…’ (if not already familiar with then look at “A Failure Of Civility” by Mike Garand & Jack Lawson if you can find it at a reasonable cost, maybe eBay). My question… so by your quote what are you loosely illustrating when you write about a D.C. & Marin County Civil War please?
    VERY INTERESTING NEXT STEP 3.0 (and I ‘follow’ MichaelBane on YT).
    Many thanks!!!

  9. “Maybe what we’ll see is something like the posses of the old west or the autodefensas in Mexico, where, yes, there was/is a larger governmental structure, but no, each town/neighborhood is more or less on their own.”

    What’s going to happen — and is already happening — is that if you are a white Trump voter you are already on your own when BLM and Antifa decide to burn shit and the cops decide to disappear. But the “larger governmental structure” will be powerful and corrupt enough to come after YOU for defending yourself or possessing an “illegal weapon” when the smoke clears.

    Rittenhouse and Zimmerman may have both been defending neighborhoods, but they were both also tried for MURDER despite clear evidence in both cases that they had been attacked and were engaged in self-defense. Rittenhouse was charged despite the fact that a dude who was illegally carrying without a permit was pointing a pistol at him.

    Members of “Gun Culture 3.0” are going to have to accept that they are criminals and The System is not their friend. The Leftist jurisdictions are now banning guns and banning carry. Did you see what the governor of New Mexico just did?

    Both the cops and the criminals (but I repeat myself) are your enemy.

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