Merchants of the Right: Gun Sellers and the Crisis of American Democracy

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Merchants of the Right: Gun Sellers and the Crisis of American Democracy

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An eye-opening portrait of the gun sellers who navigated the social turmoil leading up to the January 6 Capitol attack

Gun sellers sell more than just guns. They also sell politics. Merchants of the Right sheds light on the unparalleled surge in gun purchasing during one of the most dire moments in American history, revealing how conservative political culture was galvanized amid a once-in-a-century pandemic, racial unrest, and a U.S. presidential election that rocked the foundations of American democracy.

Drawing on a wealth of in-depth interviews with gun sellers across the United States, Jennifer Carlson takes readers to the front lines of the culture war over gun rights. Even though the majority of gun owners are conservative, new gun buyers are more likely to be liberal than existing gun owners. This posed a dilemma to gun sellers in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election: embrace these liberal customers as part of a new, perhaps post-partisan chapter in the American gun saga or double down on gun politics as conservative terrain. Carlson describes how gun sellers mobilized mainstays of modern conservative culture--armed individualism, conspiracism, and partisanship--as they navigated the uncertainty and chaos unfolding around them, asserting gun politics as conservative politics and reworking and even rejecting liberal democracy in the process.

Merchants of the Right offers crucial lessons about the dilemmas confronting us today, arguing that we must reckon with the everyday politics that divide us if we ever hope to restore American democracy to health.

Jennifer Carlson is professor of sociology at Arizona State University. Her books include Policing the Second Amendment: Guns, Law Enforcement, and the Politics of Race (Princeton). She is a frequent contributor to leading publications such as the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and the Los Angeles Times. She is a 2022 MacArthur Fellow.

ISBN: 9780691230399

ISBN-10: 9780691230399

Publisher: Princeton University Press

Publication Date: 05/02/2023 - 12:00am

On Sale: 05/02/2023 - 12:00am

Pages: 288

Language: English


Violence in Society

Political Ideologies - Democracy

Public Policy - General