Shooting Guns is Normal

In his excellent book, The Gun Gap, political scientist Mark Joslyn highlights the ways in which gun owners and non-owners live in very different social worlds. For example, non-owners are much more likely than owners to say none of their friends own guns.

Unfortunately, one of the few times these different social worlds come together is in the wake of horrific mass murders. This is probably the worst possible time for people to try to grasp a reality with which they are unfamiliar.

One way to appreciate how common and unproblematic guns are for most Americans comes from the Pew Research Center’s 2017 report, America’s Complex Relationship With Guns.

Pew Question: “Regardless of whether or not you own a gun, have you ever fired a gun?”

Nearly three-quarters of respondents (72%) said YES.

In terms of population, nearly 180 million adults in America have fired a gun (72% of 250 million US population over 18). Even plus or minus 5%, that is a lot of people.

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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.

Enjoy!

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New Gun Owner Advice from a High-Level Shooter

Now that I have been wandering around American gun culture for over a decade, I consume fewer gun-related podcasts than I used to. Time is my scarcest resource and as podcasts have proliferated, the signal-to-noise ratio is often too low to merit the investment.

That said, John Johnston’s Ballistic Radio has been at the top of my diminishing list of must listen to podcasts for some time now. Recently he had on a guest who is an extremely high-level shooter, K.A. Clark. This is not unusual for Ballistic Radio, of course. What I found interesting was the advice Clark had for new gun owners.

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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 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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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).

Shooting is Fun – Trip to the Range with My Student

In a lunchtime talk at the National Firearms Law Seminar recently, I recounted three of my main observations about guns and gun culture in America. The second of these observations is: “Shooting is fun, and challenging.” It is fun, in part, because it is challenging.

This is one of the things that got me into guns in the first place and is something I enjoy passing on to others. As I have become known more and more as “the gun guy” in my social and professional circles, more and more people have asked me to take them shooting.

Last summer, one of my sociology students asked me if I would take her to the range. Of course, I said. In January, she reminded me that I promised to take her to the range, and we eventually arranged to go last week.

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Student Range Visit Reflection #6: A Canadian POV on an American Gun Range

This is the sixth of several planned posts featuring Sociology of Guns Seminar student reflections on our field trip to ProShots, a local gun range. I provide the actual assignment in the first post, and you can also see it in the context of the syllabus itself. (Link to second post and third post and fourth post and fifth post.)

This reflection is by a Canadian student – an outsider to gun culture in both the United States and Canada – who ended up deciding not to shoot on the range but still learned quite a bit.

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Student Range Visit Reflection #5: Respecting Weapons and Trusting Others

This is the fifth of several planned posts featuring Sociology of Guns Seminar student reflections on our field trip to ProShots, a local gun range. I provide the actual assignment in the first post, and you can also see it in the context of the syllabus itself. (Link to second post and third post and fourth post.)

This student’s background was familiar to me as I meet many women whose grandfathers, fathers, and brothers hunt but whose grandmothers, mothers, sisters, and themselves do not. So, although her father and brother hunted together, she had never fired a gun before this field trip.

Mother and daughter shooting at Veterans Range, Mocksville, NC. Photo by David Yamane

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