In response to my recent post about prepping for Sociology of Guns V7.0, reader DZ asked:
I’m curious. Have any of your students been “triggered” by the range trip? Are any affected emotionally by shooting a firearm for the first time? Have you had students refuse to participate?
These are great questions that I am happy to answer.
The field trip is mandatory but the shooting is voluntary. In previous years, when everyone in the class (16 students) attended in one group, about 2/3 to 3/4 of the students opted to shoot.
The participation rate was lowest when we went to an indoor range because some students decide in the moment whether they want to shoot or not. As you probably know, indoor ranges are not the most sonically welcoming environments.
Due to COVID, last year I took just 4 students at a time and EVERYONE shot. I think being outdoors in a smaller group made the situation less intimidating. Even though COVID is less of a concern this year, I am still going to do the small groups for this reason.
Students are only rarely negatively triggered. This may be because I pre-screen students for the class, letting them know that the field trip is mandatory and telling them that if they have strongly negative personal experiences with firearms, the class may be challenging for them. I have had just a couple of students in the past ask to sit out the discussion of suicide do to previous trauma.
On the other hand, I have had many students who experience the cognitive dissonance of disliking guns going in and enjoying the experience of shooting. You can get a flavor for this in the reflections students write after the field trip, some of which I post on my blog(s).
From last year, for example:
The collected posts from the class dating back to 2015 are available HERE.