“The Gun Felt More Like a Dangerous Tool Instead of the Killing Machine I Thought It Was” (Fall 2022 Student Range Visit Reflection #4)

This is the fourth 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). 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 field trip, Fall 2022. Photo by Sandra Stroud Yamane

By Elisabeth Kuguru

My experience shooting a gun for the first time today mostly fits with my prior understanding of guns in the US. In recent years, I have become a lot more open to shooting at gun ranges, but I could never picture myself picking up a gun and shooting. Growing up in Nairobi, Kenya, guns were always meant to be feared. They are completely illegal in Kenya, however guards and police are permitted to carry them. When living there, I knew that if a gun was involved it could only mean danger. Although I did not have to be fearful of school shootings in Nairobi, I was wary of terrorist attacks. These were my first impressions of guns, so I was shocked to come to North Carolina to see people open carrying in Costco and at parties.

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A Singular Word to Describe My Experience at the Gun Range: Liberating (Fall 2022 Student Range Visit Reflection #3)

This is the third of several student gun range field trip reflection essays from my fall 2022 Sociology of Guns seminar (see reflection #1 and reflection #2). 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 student at range field trip, Fall 2022. Photo by Sandra Stroud Yamane

By Mansi Patel

To use a singular word to describe my experience at the gun range, I would choose liberating. As a young liberal woman who grew up in Georgia, guns tended to be a very polarizing topic and still are. As mass shootings continued to increase throughout the country, public displays of protest on both sides of the issue also began to increase. Especially after the school shooting in Parkland, I began to not only educate myself on politics, but also notice the very obvious divide between the two parties– pro-gun and anti-gun. I quickly politicized the issue like the rest of society, but visiting the gun range reminded me that your views do not need to align perfectly with the narrative of either CNN or FOX. The only entity they need to align with is yourself. 

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“I Surprised Myself with My Openness and Enjoyment of the Activity” (Fall 2022 Student Range Visit Reflection #2)

This is the second of several student gun range field trip reflection essays from my fall 2022 Sociology of Guns seminar (see reflection #1). 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 student at the range, Fall 2022. Photo by Sandra Stroud Yamane

By Audrey Dorfman

Prior to the field trip to Veterans Range, I would classify my view of guns in the US as predominantly negative. As I had previously never directly interacted with a gun before, I only associated the use of guns with the violence seen in the media in horrific crimes like mass shootings. I did not understand the need or desire to be a gun owner. However, the experience at the range definitely altered my prior understanding of guns in the US as I surprised myself with my openness and enjoyment of the activity.

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“You Might Be The Last Person I Would Ever Expect to Do That” (Fall 2022 Student Range Visit Reflection #1)

This is the first of several student gun range field trip reflection essays from my fall 2021 Sociology of Guns seminar. 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 student shooting during range field trip, Fall 2022. Photo by Sandra Stroud Yamane

By Amelia Baker

Before going on this trip, I mentioned it to a few of my friends and family. Most of them either didn’t believe me or thought I was joking. When I told them it was true and I was really going to a shooting range, I got a nearly identical response across the board; “You might be the last person I would ever expect to do that.”

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