As I noted earlier, I was scheduled to teach the Sociology of Religion this semester (fall 2020), but when students found out I was not going to teach my Sociology of Guns seminar they expressed considerable disappointment. So, I switched seminars and just starting my 6th straight year teaching the Sociology of Guns.
As I have done every year, we began the semester by taking a field trip to the gun range. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, we did it differently this year. Instead of having all of the students attend at the same time, I brought in 4 students at a time to allow for better social distancing. We also wore masks the entire time and did our best to sanitize the guns between shooters.
Because each group of 4 students only got 30 minutes at the range, I took some of the things we ordinarily do at the range and made them “asynchronous” (as the online education terminology goes). I made videos presenting (1) gun safety, (2) firearms information, and (3) basic marksmanship that students viewed in advance.
At the range, I briefly re-reviewed range safety, firearms safety, and our medical plan (which included my wife Sandy, a Doctor of Nursing Practice, who was in attendance). Then each student was invited — though emphatically NOT required — to shoot a Ruger Mark III .22 caliber semi-automatic pistol, a Glock 48 9mm semi-auto pistol, and an AR-platform .223 semi-auto rifle. (One student brought her own Glock 19.)
Unlike previous years, when about two-thirds of the class have taken the opportunity to shoot at all, this year all 15 students shot all 3 guns. I think the smaller groups made the situation more comfortable and breaking the class down into smaller groups is something I will likely continue to do going forward.
I will know more definitively when their field trip reflection essays come in next week, but as is typical, the majority of the students had little or no experience shooting. This is especially true of shooting the AR-platform rifle.
Although they remarked at how loud the rifle was compared to the pistols, they also found it very easy to shoot and it drew the biggest smiles. No one to my knowledge suffered Gersh Kuntzman-like PTSD symptoms.