Friday August 28, 2015

How did gun culture get this far?

Flowers are seen at a memorial outside of the offices for WDBJ7 where slain journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward worked in Roanoke, Virginia.

Flowers are seen at a memorial outside of the offices for WDBJ7 where slain journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward worked in Roanoke, Virginia. (Chris Keane/Reuters)

Listen 16:54

Whenever gun violence shakes the United States, the same question reemerges: will this be the turning point for gun control?

Following Wednesday's shooting in Virginia, A.J. Somerset isn't convinced that change is coming anytime soon. He's a sport shooter and former Canadian soldier who has written about the evolution of gun culture in a new book, Arms: The Culture and Credo of the Gun.

Somerset says that the U.S. is too deeply embedded in gun culture for these incidents to be catalysts for change; that change will be a "project of decades", and it may never materialize at all if the U.S. doesn't confront gun violence.

"[Problematic gun culture] is fetishizing the gun itself so that you invest your identity in the gun and the gun becomes a symbol of a bunch of values and beliefs that you hold. When you reach that point, then what happens is when anybody threatens any kind of gun regulation...they're threatening your very identity." - AJ Somerset

He joins guest host Gill Deacon to talk about what's really at the heart of gun culture and why he considers the Virginia tragedy "a mass public shooting without mass casualties".