Sociology of Guns Module 8: Gun Injuries, Suicide, Rights and Responsibilities

With Module 8 the course shifts its attention to what could generally be called negative outcomes with firearms: injury and death, both suicide (Module 8) and homicide (Module 9), as well as issues surrounding police use of force (Module 10).

I am particularly interested in ways in which those involved in gun culture can play a role in reducing negative outcomes with guns. Initiatives like the Gun Shop Project and Walk the Talk America (WTTA) provide some models. I am pleased for the fourth consecutive year to welcome to class as a guest speaker gun trainer Rob Pincus, a board member of WTTA and co-founder (with Dan Gross, formerly of Brady) of the Center for Gun Rights and Responsibilities.

Walk the Talk America (WTTA) table at 2019 SHOT Show. Photo by David Yamane
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Prepping for Sociology of Guns Ver 7.0

It’s hard to believe that I first taught my “Sociology of Guns” seminar at Wake Forest six years ago, in the fall of 2015. This fall I will teach the course for the seventh time in seven academic years.

Although some aspects of the course do not change — the class field trip to the gun range, most importantly — I do try to tweak the courses materials from year to year to reflect my own interests and developments in the field of gun studies.

Following are the broad outlines of where I am going with the Sociology of Guns Ver 7.0 this fall, including some guest lecturers who will be reprising their previous visits.

Professor Yamane with Wake Forest student at field trip to Veterans Range, Mocksville, NC. Photo by Robin Lindner/RLI Media
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Sociology of Guns Seminar Guest Speakers: Michael Sodini and Rob Pincus of Walk the Talk America (WTTA)

Although the topic is grim — suicide — I am very excited to welcome to my Sociology of Guns seminar today two guests who have unique perspectives on the issue. Michael Sodini is founder and President of Walk the Talk America (WTTA), and Rob Pincus is a trustee of the organization.

WTTA was founded in 2018 with the goal of reducing suicides and other negative outcomes associated with firearms. I have been remiss in not writing about the organization before now. I actually spent some time at the WTTA booth at the Shooting Hunting Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in January 2019, and Pincus (making his 3rd consecutive class appearance this year) spoke in my Sociology of Guns seminar in Spring 2019 about the issue of suicide and the work of WTTA.

Walk the Talk America Booth, SHOT Show, Las Vegas, January 2019. Photo by David Yamane
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Overview of Negative Outcomes with Guns for Sociology of Guns Seminar (Fall 2020)

Although my scholarship and teaching on the sociology of guns highlights the non-criminological and epidemiological aspects of guns in society, I do not entirely ignore negative outcomes with guns.

In my Sociology of Guns seminar, I typically allocate 2 or 3 of the modules to gun injury, suicide, and homicide. Teaching on-line this semester, I provided the students with an overview of negative outcomes with guns asynchronously (via a narrated PowerPoint turned into a YouTube video) so we would have more time in our on-line (Zoom) synchronous class session to delve into the issues more deeply.

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Sociology of Guns Class Student Final Reflection #6

As noted previously, for the final assignment of the semester in my Sociology of Guns Seminar in Spring 2019, students were asked to write a 1,000 to 2,000 word essay in which they would:

revisit your previous personal experience with and understanding of guns in the U.S. (as expressed, e.g., in the field trip reflection essay) in light of your consideration of the role guns actually do play in American society. Reflecting on what you learned from completing your major writing assignment, as well as the class more generally, discuss how your mind has (and/or has not) changed. Conclude this paper by considering what more you need to know in order to make informed choices about your own participation with and the place of guns in the communities in which you live and will live in the future.

Here is the sixth and final of several such essays (see the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth), written by a student whose initial reflections on our field trip to the gun range can be found here.

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Sociology of Guns Class Student Final Reflection #4

As noted previously, for the final assignment of the semester in my Sociology of Guns Seminar in Spring 2019, students were asked to write a 1,000 to 2,000 word essay in which they would:

revisit your previous personal experience with and understanding of guns in the U.S. (as expressed, e.g., in the field trip reflection essay) in light of your consideration of the role guns actually do play in American society. Reflecting on what you learned from completing your major writing assignment, as well as the class more generally, discuss how your mind has (and/or has not) changed. Conclude this paper by considering what more you need to know in order to make informed choices about your own participation with and the place of guns in the communities in which you live and will live in the future.

Here is the fourth of several such essays (see the first, second, and third), written by a student whose initial reflections on our field trip to the gun range can be found here. (As before, the student wishes to remain anonymous.)

Richard Talbert of ProShots Range speaking to Sociology of Guns students, Spring 2019. Photo by David Yamane

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Sociology of Guns Class Student Final Reflection #2

As noted previously, for the final assignment of the semester in my Sociology of Guns Seminar in Spring 2019, students were asked to write a 1,000 to 2,000 word essay in which they would:

revisit your previous personal experience with and understanding of guns in the U.S. (as expressed, e.g., in the field trip reflection essay) in light of your consideration of the role guns actually do play in American society. Reflecting on what you learned from completing your major writing assignment, as well as the class more generally, discuss how your mind has (and/or has not) changed. Conclude this paper by considering what more you need to know in order to make informed choices about your own participation with and the place of guns in the communities in which you live and will live in the future.

Here is the second of several such essays (see the first), written by a student whose initial reflections on our field trip to the gun range can be found here.

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Are Mass Public Shootings Seasonal? (Corrected)

***CORRECTION: A FACEBOOK READER noticed something in the Mother Jones data I presented recently that I had missed. Beginning in 2013, MJ changed their definition of a mass public shooting from 4 or more victims to 3 or more victims in 2013 (see more below), but did not retroactively update their database. Although not deceptive (they said plainly they were doing this, I simply missed it), this is methodologically problematic. So I eliminated those cases, which reduces the total number in the database from 114 incidents to 95, and re-did the chart here.***

Gun trainer Rob Pincus texted to ask me tonight if I had any source for data on the seasonality of mass shooting activity. I.e., mass shootings by month.

I did not, but I was intrigued enough by the idea to do a little work when I got home tonight. The fruit of that labor is below. Important notes and interpretive points follow the chart.

Mass Shootings by Month Corrected

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