This is the fourth of several planned posts featuring Sociology of Guns Seminar student reflections on our field trip to ProShots, a local gun range. I provide the actual assignment in the first post, and you can also see it in the context of the syllabus itself. (Link to second post and third post.)
This student is from Europe, so her experience with guns and gun culture is even more distant than her American classmates and her learning curve consequently steeper.
30 January 2019
This field trip was the first time I had set foot in a gun shop or a gun range; I was apprehensive about this experience as it is not in my culture to be close to guns, but I ended up enjoying my visit and was pleasantly surprised by the thrill of firing a gun.
During the presentation, I thought Richard was really helpful in informing us, both on how to handle a gun but also on the importance of being cautious and aware of all the dangers guns could bring. He stressed how important it was to keep guns in a safe environment and away from anyone vulnerable to hurting themselves; in the past we have heard of children accidentally either shooting themselves or others.
He was adamant about completing background checks before selling a gun to a buyer and said that this shop refused to sell a gun to anyone who looked in any way suspicious. For example there was a case where a grandmother was looking at guns with her underage grandson and it was obvious the gun was for him.
I am a bit skeptical when it comes to owning a gun, but Richard really tried to be as neutral as possible no matter how people felt about guns. My sense was that Richard’s priority, as he mentioned repeatedly, was the security of others; he made me see gun owners with a different eye. My skepticism made me believe that gun owners did not really pay attention to how cautious one should be with a gun but I realized this was false.
I thought the question and answer part of the presentation was very useful because it made me reflect on important subjects; for example, a student asked how frequently concealed carry licenses need to be renewed and when Richard answered 5 years I was slightly surprised. One reason was that, while filling out the questionnaire to buy a gun, they ask buyers if they have ever been involved in any kind of felony, illegal activities or other unlawful activities; they are also asked if they are mentally defective. In this case, what I found surprising was that in the span of five years, the owner could have participated in illegal actions, or developed a mental illness, making them unable to own a gun.
In addition, Richard was asked if any of the shop’s guns had been found at a crime scene, to which he answered positively for a few. He explained that most likely these events occurred because the guns had been stolen from their rightful owner and not used by a malicious buyer. It thus made me reflect on the role of guns in America, and what solutions we could find to better secure guns from being stolen and prevent such events.
Something else Richard mentioned was the fact that sometimes grandparents or parents come to shoot some guns on the range with their children to spend quality time. I thought this was really curious since I usually spend quality time with my family playing golf, not quite the same experience.
Going into the actual range was really exciting, I had only seen people shooting a real gun on TV but never in front of me. Shooting was not what I expected. It may have been the gun I was using, but it had nearly no recoil which everyone had warned me about; it was fun trying to shoot something physical and real. Even though I still do not feel entirely comfortable with guns, I was really happy to have experienced this and can now say that I am capable of shooting a gun, safely.
[DY NOTE: I have very lightly edited this text for length and to correct glaring spelling, grammar, and/or substantive errors.]