Shooting is Fun – A Reminder from the Field

“It’s fun. It’s a sport. And it’s a skill.”

Participant in Open Source Shooting Sports range event

It’s no secret that early in my research on American gun culture, I took Michael Bane’s idea of a Gun Culture 2.0 and brought it into scholarly discussions of guns. This has been a mixed blessing.

The concept of Gun Culture 2.0 is mostly positive because it allows me to convey a broad pattern of evolution in the center of gravity of American gun culture.

Diagram by David Yamane, from

But, as the literary critic Kenneth Burke famously said, “Every way of seeing is a way of not seeing. Every insight has its own special blindness.”

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Visiting the National Gun Owners Association of Kenya Range in Kiambu

One of the students in my Sociology of Guns seminar last fall grew up in Nairobi, Kenya and still has family there. She is what I would call an open-minded critic of guns, or perhaps a gun skeptic, as reflected in her class range field trip reflection, “The Gun Felt More Like a Dangerous Tool Instead of the Killing Machine I Thought It Was.

At the end of the semester, she said she was visiting family in Kenya over the break and was planning to visit the gun range with her Guka (Grandfather). I asked her to send me a report if she did and she did.

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“I Am Grateful for This Experience That Forced Me to Get Uncomfortable (Fall 2022 Student Range Visit Reflection #7)

This is the seventh 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 and reflection #6). 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.

Sociology of Guns students at range, Fall 2022. Photo by Sandra Stroud Yamane

By Hanna Vasconcello

Growing up with immigrant parents in a city full of people like me (Miami) meant I did not have many chances to see day-to-day manifestations of American culture like guns. My first idea of gun culture came around 2012 after the Sandy Hook shooting. Because I had never had an experience with a firearm before, my immediate response to guns was negative. The intensity of my disdain for guns constantly fluctuated, but my general attitude was discomfort with the idea of owning, using, or enjoying a firearm. To me, they represented the ugly parts of humanity, like violence and destruction.

It was not until about a year ago that my opinion toward guns started shifting. As I have had to live alone and be in situations where I felt helpless, I have come to terms with how helpful a gun can be in protecting oneself. I also have friends who own guns, which has made me reconsider my negative attitudes toward gun owners. Therefore, my understanding of firearms was more accepting by the time the gun range field trip came around. However, I did not plan to touch or shoot a gun during the trip, an out-of-character decision for my adrenaline-junkie personality. I had never held a gun in my life, and I never saw myself as a person who could shoot one. Maybe I was still carrying some negative assumptions, or perhaps I was terrified of something going wrong once the gun was in my hands.

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In Search of the Elusive Liberal Gun Owner Deep in the Heart of Texas (Light Over Heat #40)

For my 40th consecutive weekly video, a light(-hearted) take: An anthropological expedition to the heart of deep red Texas in search of the elusive species known as the Liberal Gun Owner.

Please enjoy!

Thanks to Randy Miyan, Executive Director of the Liberal Gun Owners, for the gun range sizzle reel used here. See also:

Liberal Gun Owners Lens:

Instagram: @liberalgunowners

Twitter: @libgunowners

Show and Tell in Sociology of Guns Class

In my Sociology of Guns class yesterday, we de-briefed our field trip to the gun range the previous week. Some of the students’ written reflections are forthcoming – always some of the most read posts on this blog.

In the meantime, pictured below are 4 ammunition cartridges I brought with me to show the class. Three of them the students shot at the range: .22LR, 9mm, and .223 Remington. I highlighted how the diameter of the .22 and .223 bullets are almost the same, though their size and the amount of gunpowder used to propel them are dramatically different.

Although ballistics are well outside of my areas of expertise, students did have questions about calibers designed for hunting, the difference between rifle rounds and shotgun shells, and the legality of fragmenting bullets.

.22LR, 9mm, .223, and .50 BMG cartridges
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Light Over Heat #20: A Light Take in Celebration of This Milestone – Shooting Guns in Texas

Wow, this is the 20th episode of “Light Over Heat” that I recorded! I can’t believe it. It seems like I was just recording my 10th episode not long ago. This second set of videos (Season 2) was supposed to be organized thematically around t-shirts I own. It mostly was, but on a few occasions I couldn’t pull that off. Oh, well. The world is too chaotic to be organized thematically around seasons, anyway.

Speaking of chaos, this video is also appearing way out of order since I had to pre-empt it in order to reflect on guns and race in the wake of the Buffalo mass murder.

Although I do not do the typical internet/social media “hot takes” on my chosen topic, I did think it was appropriate for this milestone video to do a “Light Take” (h/t John Correia). So, this video shows me shooting a single-action revolver, a lever-action rifle, a double-action revolver, and a fully-automatic and suppressed submachine gun. Of course, lessons can be learned from this exercise, but for now I will just let the videos speak for themselves.


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Sociology of Guns Student Field Trip to the Range, Year 6

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.

You can download a PDF of the current syllabus here. A collection of links to my previous posts on the seminar is available also.

Sociology of Guns student at the range. Photo by Robin Lindner/RLI Media

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Not So Hidden Humor in Gun Owners’ YouTube Videos by Connie Hassett-Walker

In my work on gun culture, I have systematically avoided collecting systematic data on gun culture online. True, I have spent time with and attended a seminar by YouTube star John Correia of Active Self Protection. But I just don’t have the stomach to wade into many online gun forums or follow too much gun social media.

Fortunately, other scholars are braver than I am. Among them is Connie Hassett-Walker. Following on her recent book, Guns on the Internet (Routledge, 2019), she offers some examples of and reflections on humor in gun owners’ YouTube video here.

In the conclusion to her book (and in an essay on The Conversation), she issues “The 100 YouTube Video Challenge.” Designed to inspire open-mindedness and empathy for those on the other side of the gun debate, the challenge entails watching 100 YouTube videos “showcasing something from the opposing side.” Not only that, “but identifying three things in the videos they watch to which they could relate” (p. 131).

Here she gives those on the gun control side 8 pro-gun videos to get them started toward their 100. Please suggest other videos from either side of the debate in the comments.

By Connie Hassett-Walker

I imagine what you’re thinking. ‘Gun videos’… ‘humor’… what?

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Shooting is Fun — #435 — Family Time

Those who have seen my video on becoming a gun owner know that my wife Sandy played a crucial role getting me into guns. But the last time we shot a class together was in 2012. Over the past 6+ years since then, she has been accumulating nursing degrees while I have been wandering around gun culture.

It was so much fun, therefore, to take John Murphy’s  Concealed Carry: Advanced Skills and Tactics course together this past weekend, especially shooting the “Who gets to kill the most home intruders drill” (humor alert: not its actual name; see video below, H/T Annette Evans).