The sixth iteration of my Sociology of Guns seminar at Wake Forest University is in the books. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, it was (still) a pleasure to teach this course. (You can read much more about previous editions of the course here.)
The final assignment for the course is for the students to write an essay reflecting on their personal experience with and understanding of guns in light of what they learned in the course. Specifically:
In this final essay, you will revisit your previous personal experience with and understanding of guns in the U.S. (as expressed, e.g., in the field trip reflection essay) in light of your consideration of the role guns actually do play in American society. Reflecting on what you learned from completing your major writing assignment, as well as the class more generally, discuss how your mind has (and/or has not) changed. Conclude this paper by considering what more you need to know in order to make informed choices about your own participation with and the place of guns in the communities in which you live and will live in the future.
Over the next several days, I will be posting some of these final reflection essays, so stay tuned. (Also, read more below.)
The class sessions being on Zoom actually made it somewhat easier than in previous years to have guest speakers visit, and as usual these were some of the highlights of the course. In particular, I was happy to welcome John Johnston of Citizens Defense Research (for the 3rd time), Tiffany Johnson and Aqil Qadir of Citizens Safety Academy, Michael Sodini of Walk the Talk America and Rob Pincus (for the 3rd time), and Lara C. Smith of the Liberal Gun Club.
Outside our class meetings, the students’ major assignment was to explore the scholarly literature in an area of interest to them. The titles of their projects highlights the range of their interests:
- Welcome to the Future: The World of Personalized Weapons
- Illicit Arms: How Illegally Obtained Guns Harms Communities and Gun Culture
- Sex and Guns: The Dangers of No Safety Education
- Women Bring Knives to Gunfights: How Women’s Negative Outcomes with Firearms Reflect Gender Differences in Firearm Use
- How People Get What They Want: A State-by-State Approach to the Movement of Illegal Firearms in the US
- Friend or Foe: The Real Contributor to the Underground Gun Market
- The Real “Smoking Gun”: The Impact of Gun Violence Portrayal in American Media
- Too Close for Comfort: The Connection between Gang Membership and Gun Ownership
- “You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out!”: The Problem of Juvenile Gun Possession
- White, Black, or a Shade of Grey: Beliefs Regarding Concealed Carry on College Campuses
- More Guns Less Crime; The Battle of the Johns
- Gun Control’s Efficacy: Best When Coupled with Innovative Solutions
- Guns and Crayons? Efficiency of Arming Teachers & Other Safety Measures to Prevent School Shooting
- Suicide by Firearm
- Policing Gun Crimes: Tactics, Theories, & To-Do’s
- What’s Up With All The Guys With Guns? Exploring the Association between Hegemonic Masculinity and Gun Ownership
I am on a research leave in Spring 2021 to work on my book on American gun culture, but hopefully in Fall 2021 I can keep the seminar streak alive.