Consuming America’s favourite assault rifle: ‘GI Joe’ for adults

Document Type

Conference Proceeding



Place of Publication

Katowice, Poland


School of Business and Law




MacCarthy, M., & O’Neill, M. (2017). Consuming America’s favourite assault rifle: ‘GI Joe’ for adults. In proceedings of Proceedings of the 2017 – MAGScholar Conference. Katowice, Poland: MAGScholar. Available here


The AR15 semi-automatic, high-powered assault rifle is the paragon artefact of civilian self-defence in the USA. There are upwards of five million of these weapons in civilian circulation with no shortage of availability to an avid consumer market. This project combines participant observation from three online AR15 forums with 12 years of ethnography in the Western Australian firearm fraternity. A 2009 Taxonomy of Firearm Consumption is updated to include the findings of this project. We reveal how shooters not only love their AR15’s but derive a sense of self from possession. For some shooters their AR15 is used not only as a key component of their extended self but also as an identity prosthetic. The modular nature of the firearm permits a closer fit for a myriad of available self-definitions. Shooters immerse themselves in the experience of possession. Also revelling in the nostalgic symbolism and appreciating the utility afforded by what is touted as the quintessential weapon for home-defence.

Access Rights

subscription content


Article Location