This is the sixth of several student gun range field trip reflection essays from my fall 2021 Sociology of Guns seminar (see reflection #1, reflection #2, reflection #3, reflection #4, and reflection #5). The assignment to which students are responding can be found here. I am grateful to these students for their willingness to have their thoughts shared publicly.
By Kierra Law
Overall, I would say that my experience going to the gun range did not fit with my prior understanding of guns in the U.S.
Our field trip to the gun range was my first experience handling a gun. I appreciated this trip because it made me realize some things that I had not realized before. There were also parts of the experience that I enjoyed and parts that still made me feel uncomfortable being around guns.
One of the first things that surprised me was how loud the guns were when they were fired. This made me reflect on how scary and traumatizing shootings can be for people who find themselves in those situations.
I was also surprised by the power of the guns, especially the 9mm handgun. Although I already knew how dangerous guns can be, feeling the power of the guns in my hands made it more real to me.
I was also surprised at how accurately I was able to shoot considering that I have never even held a gun before. For me, the 9mm was the hardest gun to shoot so it was shocking to me that it is a commonly owned gun. I also did not like that the 9mm handgun did not have any external safety like the other guns we shot.
After shooting I could not imagine carrying a gun let alone being able to use one outside of a gun range, but it also made me realize that owning a gun does not have to be a bad thing.
This experience made me aware that in a lot of ways I lack knowledge of guns, and the representations of guns that I have seen in my life and in the media have always shined a negative light on guns. I believe the prevalence of guns in the media has normalized gun violence.
These are some of the main reasons why guns have made me feel uncomfortable.
I live in a community that has been majorly affected by gun violence and one of my family members was held at gunpoint by police officers after being mistaken for someone else, so I came into this experience with a very negative view of guns.
I was surprised that I enjoyed my experience at the gun range but I felt comfortable at the range because it was informative and there were safety precautions in place.
This experience was valuable for me because I have been considering whether I should purchase a gun after college for safety as I will probably be living on my own. Through this experience I learned that if I were to purchase a gun later, I would probably feel more comfortable starting off with a .22 handgun or something similar, whereas before I assumed and was advised that I should start off with a 9mm handgun.
I am still not completely comfortable around guns, and I am still conflicted on whether I would be comfortable owning one, but I am interested in learning more about guns and possibly even going to a gun range again.