Guns Can Be Understood and Respected as Dangerous, Useful, and Recreational (Fall 2021 Student Range Visit Reflection #4)

This is the fourth of several student gun range field trip reflection essays from my fall 2021 Sociology of Guns seminar (see reflection #1, 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.

By Dalton Collins

My understanding of firearms in my life has always been that they are primarily tools, regardless of their ability to maim and kill. They are tools by which we can hunt and defend ourselves. Despite this, it has always been important to treat them with the utmost respect in order to handle them safely. Like many other tools they can be used for recreation.

Shooting guns is fun. There is an adrenaline component to the sound and recoil as well as a satisfaction found hitting a target.

Our trip to the range was the first time I have fired a gun in over a year. Despite how fun guns can be, I do not tend to find myself wanting to fire them. In fact, I have spent more time considering my opinions on gun control than handling firearms. in the US.

The author shooting at Veterans Range, September 2021. Photo by David Yamane
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Exhilarating Normalcy (Fall 2021 Student Range Visit Reflection #3)

This is the third of several student gun range field trip reflection essays from my fall 2021 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.

By Hannah Coates

My experience at Veterans Range was surprising to me in more ways than one. Not only was the gun range different than I anticipated in appearance, structure, and regulation, but the act of shooting a gun was also eye-opening in comparison to my expectations, all in all expanding upon my prior understanding of guns in the US.

The author shooting at Veterans Range, September 2021. Photo by David Yamane
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Mixed Emotions and Complicated Views (Fall 2021 Student Range Visit Reflection #2)

This is the second of several student gun range field trip reflection essays from my fall 2021 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.

By Mary Clark

As a self-identified “flaming liberal”, guns and gun ownership have always been a topic I am opposed to. Though, as a politics major, I strive to better understand both sides—rather all dimensions— of a complex topic like guns in the United States. My prior understanding of guns has stemmed from sensationalized news headlines and youth lead movements against gun violence, particularly with the rise of consistent and well documented school shooting incidents.

If you ever were to look at the news, or come out from the rock you’ve been hiding under, you would instantly find that the topic of guns is a complex and very personal issue for many Americans. As a young woman who grew up in a blue county of a red state, I understand that there are nuances to this debate that often get pushed aside for the sake of argument. Going to the Mocksville Veterans Gun Range complicated my view and understanding of my belief and opinions on this topic.

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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

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Is a Life with Less Risk Better?

I am a risk-averse person. When a friend from high school told me he was thinking of leaving his secure job with an established software company to join a startup, I thought it was too risky. He had a young family to worry about and the startup’s business model was terrible. Why would anyone wait to receive DVD movie rentals in the mail when they could get them right away at the many Blockbuster Video stores on their way to or from work? Cryptocurrency? No, thank you. Apple stock? Overpriced. I don’t drive fast, don’t ride my bike without a helmet, don’t jump out of planes or off cliffs, don’t like boats or ATVs, don’t drink to excess, don’t pick fights. Whenever possible, I try to limit my exposure to unnecessary risk.

At first glance, the following quote from sociologist and gun critic Jonathan Metzl would seem right up my alley:

Risk helps people identify the possibility of peril in their loved ones and is something that we all want to avoid in our own lives. Risk implies peril, hazard, and the possibility of loss. Risk, as anthropologist Lochlann Jain puts it, is a form of American autobiography—inasmuch as it reveals a great deal about our relationships with cars, machines, and other objects and technologies. As a doctor or as a researcher, I believe that a life with less risk is a life that is often longer, happier, and more secure. Risk is something that we should want to study, identify, and, ultimately, prevent.

Jonathan Metzl, Dying of Whiteness, p. 50
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