In the winter of 2010, I arrived in Michigan to study the “gun carry revolution” for my book Citizen-Protectors: The Everyday Politics of Guns in an Age of Decline. Over the last few decades, US states have increasingly loosened their restrictions on the ability of residents to carry guns in public (including “shall-issue” and “Constitutional carry” laws) and to use them in self-defense (i.e., “Stand Your Ground” laws).
Today, estimates top off at over 11 million licensed gun carriers in the US. Some Americans are also embracing the open carrying of handguns and even long-guns. This surge in legal gun carriers reflects and sustains a major transformation in how Americans understand the place of guns in everyday life: the number-one reason Americans own guns today is for protection, and according to recent polls from Pew and Gallup, most Americans view gun ownership as doing more to protect people than endanger them. This is a major shift in the imagined place of guns as objects of safety and security.