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Gunlore - Firearms, Folkways, and Communities


Firearms, Folkways, and Communities

Edited by Robert Glenn Howard & Eric A. Eliason
Hardcover : 9781496850928, 292 pages, 103 b&w illustrations, August 2024
Paperback : 9781496850935, 292 pages, 103 b&w illustrations, August 2024

Table of contents

Introduction. Gunlore and Gunfolks: Defining an Old and Powerful Genre
Robert Glenn Howard and Eric A. Eliason
Chapter 1. Young Guns: Folklore and the Fetishization of Guns among Juveniles at an All-Male Correctional Facility in Tucson, Arizona
Raymond Summerville
Chapter 2. Moms Who Carry: Femininity and Firearms in Vernacular Digital Photography
Annamarie O’Brien Morel
Chapter 3. Between the Forest and the Freezer: Visual Culture and Hunting Weapons in the Upper Midwest
Tim Frandy
Chapter 4. 4chan, Firearms, and Folklore
Noah D. Eliason (with Eric A. Eliason)
Chapter 5. Percussioned Flintlocks: A Nineteenth-Century Folk Art
Nathan E. Bender
Chapter 6. NERF PUNK: The Firearm Folklife of “Alternative History” Cosplay
London Brickley
Chapter 7. God’s Warriors: Gunlore and Identity in the Vernacular Discourse of a Survivalist Community
Megan L. Zahay
Chapter 8. A Knack for Precision: The Art and Science of a Gun-Making Dynasty
Sandra Bartlett Atwood
Chapter 9. Dangerous Tools of Expression: The Benefits and Costs of Gunlore
Robert Glenn Howard
Chapter 10. Gun Play as Vernacular Religious Experience
Jay Mechling
Chapter 11. Symbols and Things: A Reflection on Gunlore
Tok Thompson
About the Contributors

A balanced assessment of gun culture and its folklore in America


Contributions by Sandra Bartlett Atwood, Nathan E. Bender, London Brickley, Eric A. Eliason, Noah D. Eliason, Tim Frandy, Robert Glenn Howard, Jay Mechling, Annamarie O'Brien Morel, Raymond Summerville, Tok Thompson, and Megan L. Zahay

Guns are a ubiquitous part of life in the United States. Arguably more pervasive than physical guns is “gunlore,” which refers to the many folklore genres related to firearms. Gunlore: Firearms, Folkways, and Communities is the first book to engage with the many narratives, rituals, folk-speech, customs, art, and handicraft encompassed by gunlore.

Like most expressive cultures, gunlore emerges from specific communities. Groups with a shared interest around firearms may form for many reasons—self-protection, hunting, crime, work, political or social identity signaling, the desire to creatively modify guns, and even the resolve to oppose gun use and ownership. This collection explores a range of gunlore genres and the “gunfolk” groups that give rise to them. Contributors examine topics that include the fetishization of firearms, “Moms Who Carry,” online discussion boards, alternative history cosplay, survivalist communities, gunsmiths and gun craft, and more. Gun owners and gun enthusiasts, in all their varieties, are one of the largest avocational groups in America. The essays in Gunlore seek to expand our understanding of these communities by looking at the various roles firearms play, have played, and can play in our world.

Gunlore, for better or worse, is a powerful and pervasive method of self-expression. In examining the folklore around these controversial and politically charged tools, weapons, and symbols, we can begin to understand aspects of American culture that will remain prominent for the foreseeable future.


"Delving beyond troubling headlines and instead attempting to understand the underlying interests in guns among American communities, Gunlore offers a unique mosaic of insight into the gun cultures of America."

- Mark Bender, Center for Folklore Studies at The Ohio State University