Collected Posts on Sociology of Guns Seminar

In Fall 2021, I will teach my “Sociology of Guns” seminar at Wake Forest University for the seventh consecutive academic year, dating back to the fall of 2015. A PDF of the course syllabus for Version 7.0 is available HERE, and links to each of the course modules are available below.

Over the years, I have posted a number of times on this blog and my older Gun Culture 2.0 blog about this seminar. This entry collects those earlier posts — from both blogs — including many written by students in the class.

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I’m Surprised This Trip and Class is Allowed (Fall 2021 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.

By Caleb Brinkley

To preface, I enjoyed the class range trip and thought it went well.  My circumstances are different from other students in several ways, notably in experience and physical considerations.  I have a relatively extensive background in the gun community with a focus on competition and training that extends beyond the level of the average American gun owner.  Thus, what was unique about the range trip for me wasn’t the shooting per se, but the context in which it occurred in.  The shooting itself was introductory level, as appropriate for the students since the majority had little experience with firearms. 

The author shooting at Veterans Range, September 2021. Photo by David Yamane
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Student Gun Range Field Trip Reflection Essays for Fall 2021 Forthcoming

Later today, I will begin posting some of the field trip reflection essays my Sociology of Guns students were required to submit following our visit to Veterans Range at the start of this semester.

The field trip is historically a highlight of the course for students, and the reflection essays among the most popular items I post to my blogs every year (previous student reflections can be found on my Sociology of Guns collected posts page).

The essays provide interesting insights into the experience and thoughts of young adults who for the most part are not invested in, or even familiar with, guns and gun culture. They are gun curious.

Sociology of Guns student at Veterans Range, Fall 2020
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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, Version 7.0 (Fall 2021)

For the 7th consecutive year, I am teaching my Sociology of Guns seminar at Wake Forest University. The course syllabus is available as a PDF here and separate blog posts on each course module can be found below. In addition, links to every post on the course since 2015 are available on my Gun Culture 2.0 site.

The image below represents the three main objects I have in teaching the course, as well as the related assessments.

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“Race and Guns in America” Webinar on Saturday July 31

I was recently querying Academic Twitter about peer-reviewed social scientific publications on non-deviant African American gun owners to assign in the module on race in my Sociology of Guns seminar (more on that module forthcoming). I was disheartened but not surprised that there are none (historians and legal scholars have done better). After all, only this year was a peer-reviewed sociological study of LGBT gun owners published.

Perhaps the times are changing. From 2:00-4:00pm Eastern Time on July 31, I will be joining Wake Forest Law Professor Gregory Parks and a panel of other academics and experts for a thoughtful and thought-provoking webinar on race and guns in the U.S.

The conversation will examine how race intersects with the history of gun ownership in America, the roots of the Second Amendment, and the modern politics of guns. Panelists will bring a historical, legal, psychological, and sociological lens to bear on the discussion, “Race and Guns in America: A Conversation About Black Gun Ownership.”

You can register for the event here.

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Sociology of Guns Module 2: Guns Are Normal, Normal People Use Guns

Everyone approaches the study of and teaching about guns from a particular perspective. My own perspective comes from my involvement in gun culture over the past decade, which has profoundly shifted my perspective on guns and gun owners. Over the years I have refined this perspective into a sort of motto:

Guns are normal, and normal people use guns.

I first used this exact phrase during my address at the National Firearms Law Seminar and now sell t-shirts with the phrase to raise funds to support my research on gun culture.

In this first substantive module of Sociology of Guns, I share with my Sociology of Guns students this overarching perspective from which I approach the class.

Photo by Robin Lindner/RLI Media
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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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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 Student Final Reflection #8: I Recognize the Topic is Much More Nuanced

As noted earlier, the final assignment of the semester in my Sociology of Guns seminar is for the students to write an essay reflecting on their personal experience with and understanding of guns in light of what they learned in the course (full text of the assignment is here).

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

Sociology of Guns student at range. Photo by Robin Lindner/RLI Media
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