Sociology of Guns Field Trip to Gun Range, September 2021

Although the remnants of Hurricane Ida forced a last minute rescheduling, my Fall 2021 Sociology of Guns seminar students completed their mandatory field trip to the gun range on September 3rd.

This is the 7th time I have taught the course and the 7th successful field trip we have taken as a class. All the students left the range with the same number of holes in their bodies as they arrived with, plus some experience handling and shooting live firearms.

Although guns are always a Rorschach test of sorts and students’ preexisting understandings heavily influence the conclusions they draw about guns at the end of the course, having an experiential basis upon which to discuss firearms and shooting is foundational to our consideration of the role of guns in American society.

In the coming days, I will (as before) post some of the students’ field trip reflection essays on this blog. They have historically been among the most popular items I post, so stay tuned!

Sociology of Guns student firing a .22 pistol during field trip to Veterans Range, September 2021. Photo by David Yamane
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Sociology of Guns Module 1: Field Trip to Gun Range

As I prepare to teach my Sociology of Guns course Version 7.0, I thought I would post as much of the material for the different modules I am teaching this fall as possible.

Probably the most unique aspect of this course from the start has been the class trip to the gun range. Before we ever meet as a class or discuss any opinions, ideas, or scholarship on guns, students are REQUIRED to attend a field trip to the gun range. Once there, they are given the OPTION to try shooting.

The range field trip is such a highlight of the class for students, I joke that the course goes downhill after day 1.

Sociology of Guns Inaugural Student Field Trip to Gun Range, 2015. Photo by David Yamane
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Great Gun Buying Spree of 2020: Collected Works About

The COVID-19 pandemic compounded by the George Floyd protests and riots mixed with the boogaloo/CW2/Great Awakening V leading up to a hotly contested presidential election created a literally unprecedented gun buying spree in 2020.

This post collects various blog posts, stories, and studies I have come across that I think have some value. If you know of other works to be included, please post them in the comments.

Empty gun case at store. Photo by Tamara Keel, https://booksbikesboomsticks.blogspot.com/

Gun Culture 2.0 and the Great Gun Buying Spree of 2020. An essay I wrote for Discourse magazine connecting the spree to the broader culture of guns in America.

COVID-19 and Guns Video Series by Duke Center for Firearms Law. Including an interview with yours truly.

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Guns Don’t Kill People, Systemic Inequality Does

Another day in America, another pile of bodies, and another set of cries for gun control. Predictably, the Atlanta and Boulder and Indianapolis mass public shootings were followed by calls to ban AR-style rifles. President Biden proposes to subject “ghost guns” to background checks and place pistol-stabilizing braces under the National Firearms Act as short-barreled rifles.

This marks a return to the old, pre-pandemic normal in America in which extremely rare cases of large-scale homicide bring efforts to regulate guns and gun parts in ways so general they are unlikely to have the desired effect of dramatically reducing gun violence.

As tragic as they are, overemphasis on these dramatic but rare events diverts our attention from the vast majority of homicides which involve fewer than four victims, victims who are shot with regular old handguns that are acquired in transactions not covered by criminal background checks.

Having studied American gun culture for a decade now, I find myself returning repeatedly to an important truth: Everyday gun violence in the United States is concentrated in places and among people that are most affected by economic and racial inequality. Efforts to reduce this violence should, therefore, be equally concentrated on addressing its causes in these same areas. Doing so shifts efforts at intervention away from guns per se, a move that allows us to circumvent federal gridlock on gun legislation and as well as legal challenges to gun regulation. We can carve a political path forward right now by decoupling violence reduction from gun control.

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Sex and Guns: Safer not Safe

I just finished a draft of my book chapter on “Pascal’s Wager and Firearms.” It’s all about risk, risk assessment, and risk management in relation to firearms. From there I am rolling into a chapter on negative outcomes, which will of course highlight the work of the Professor of Negative Outcomes, Claude Werner.

A Tweet I saw yesterday directed my attention to an op-ed written by a leading suicide researcher created a nice bridge between these two chapters. It had to do with preventing gun “violence” (to include suicide and accidents) via safe storage. For me the most interesting part was the last paragraph, so either read or skip to the end and find the following:

Firearms are here to stay. Just as we encourage safe sex rather than abstinence to reduce the burden of teenage pregnancy, we can encourage safe firearm storage rather than simply discouraging firearm ownership altogether in our efforts to reduce gun violence.

Michael Anestis

Spoof ad from Fernet Branca Instagram feed @fernetbranca
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2nd Anniversary of “Gun Curious”

Yesterday was the second anniversary of this blog. I began Gun Curious as a complement to my longer-running Gun Culture 2.0 blog because I wanted an outlet for my observations on guns and gun culture that would be of interest to those who simply wanted to know or think more about these issues, especially those whose minds were not already made up.

In two years and 125 posts, I have found what I should have already known: that confirmation bias reigns supreme in real life and on the web.

Because of this, I appreciate all the more the modest number of dedicated readers here who share my curiosity about the significant role guns play in our individual and social lives. I am looking forward to sharing more over the next 365 days.

If you know of someone who shares your gun curiosity, please encourage them to follow the blog via email or the Gun Curious Facebook page.

The author shooting at the Colonial Williamsburg Musket Range, 2017.

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Gun Culture 2.0 and the Great Gun Buying Spree of 2020

Late in 2020 an editor from the online magazine Discourse contacted me to see if I wanted to write anything about my work on American gun culture for them. The invitation provided an excellent opportunity for me to formalize some of my scattered thoughts on the Great Gun-Buying Spree of 2020. I quickly agreed.

It was published recently so have a look, and read more after the break.

Screen cap of Discourse magazine essay on Gun Culture 2.0
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Top 10 Most Viewed Posts in 2020

I launched this blog in February 2019 because my Gun Culture 2.0 blog has come to be read almost exclusively by people who are invested in gun culture. Although they are an important audience for my work, I also want to translate what I am learning about guns to the gun curious — those interested in but unsure about guns. People in the middle. Those who are not already 100% convinced of their views.

Although I am not yet convinced that I am reaching such an audience, and readership of this blog lags well behind Gun Culture 2.0, I remain committed to posting here about issues relating to guns for people across the political and gun ownership spectra.

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