This is the sixth of several student gun range field trip reflection essays from my fall 2022 Sociology of Guns seminar (see reflection #1 and reflection #2 and reflection #3 and 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 Liana Hutton
Approximately half a year ago, when I signed the form to participate in this course, it discussed how we were required to go on a field trip to the gun range. My first thoughts were how interesting this would be because of my background. I grew up in Hilton Head, South Carolina – a place that loves guns – but in a family that grew up in New York and does not like guns. Growing up in a very socially liberal household in a socially conservative area gave me an interesting perspective. Not only did I develop my own beliefs about guns in general, but I also developed a sense of what others believed, and why. In high school, I was part of the Young Democrats club, which came together when mass shootings happened to hold an entire school activity to remember those lost in the Parkland shooting specifically. I remember that day, the members of the Young Republicans club passed around stickers to students that said, “I support the second amendment.”
To sum it up, I lived in a place that loved the second amendment, where lots of teenagers went hunting with their parents growing up, and lived in households that had multiple kinds of guns. I grew up in a family that believed, and still does, that we need gun control, and that some types of guns should be banned.
The gun range experience did not fit with my understanding of guns, but I very much enjoyed it. Because of my family’s view of guns, I would have never gone to a shooting range, let alone shot three different kinds of guns, on my own, with family, or with friends.
When I first showed up at the range, my friend and I were a little anxious. We heard the loud shots of the previous group shooting and immediately went back to the car. Both of our families are very liberal, so it was in our nature to hear that and leave the source it was originating from. When we finally got inside the fence, I was very nervous and didn’t know if I wanted to through with shooting any of the guns. I just didn’t grow up in an environment that encouraged it. It was completely foreign to me!
Skip to the end of the experience – I absolutely loved it! I was surprised by how loud the shots were, but I was also surprised that the jolt of it wasn’t as bad as people said/what it looked like when my classmates shot. I found appealing how easy it was. You just put your hands in the position, aim the gun, and boom! It wasn’t this complex process, and it was over very fast.
I was especially nervous to shoot the semi-automatic rifle, just because of what I had read about them and heard on the news. It also looked like people jolted back a lot with this type of gun, but when I did it, it didn’t hurt and was easy to control.
Guns were and still are a complete mystery to me. This experience slightly took some of the mysteriousness out of something highly debated in our country and move it to a more personal level. I don’t think guns themselves are evil things, I just think it does need to be regulated better who has access to them.
My mom was very wary of the field trip, but my dad was looking forward to what I would think. After this experience, I definitely want to go to a shooting range again. I had no clue what to expect going into the field trip, but I came out of it energized and looking forward to what I would learn in this course.
I feel like throughout my life I only heard either, “I support the second amendment,” or “We need to ban guns, or have a lot more gun control.” I never learned or looked into the middle ground of it or the history behind guns. I never de-mystified why guns are so contested in this country. This experience was a great start to getting my own subjective view of firearms and seeing that they aren’t inherently evil.
In all, I don’t have much of a prior understanding of guns in the US. I mainly see all the school shoootings/police shootings/other mass shootings in the news and think that something needs to be done about this. I see the arguments that people kill people, guns don’t kill people. I also see arguments that 22 year olds shouldn’t have access to AR-15s. For guns themselves, I always thought they were bad, I didn’t want anything to do with them. This experience fought against this view, to my surprise, and now I want to learn more about them and go to another shooting range. This field trip helped my biases surrounding guns and the debate around them, and I can’t wait for my views to be challenged further throughout the year.
5 thoughts on ““I Absolutely Loved It!” (Fall 2022 Student Range Visit Reflection #6)”
Another great essay full of introspection! It’s quite a marvel to see how the same, simple experience can elicit such a range of impressions & reflections from students with varied backgrounds.
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Demystification is a huge first step.
Liana wrote a really good essay!
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