Most times I offer my Sociology of Guns seminar, I require students to obtain “permission of instructor” prior to enrolling. I do this for three main reasons.
First, many students (like many sociologists and some of the public) assume that “of guns” means “of gun violence and gun control.” I want them to be clear what they are in for.
Second, I do deal quite bluntly with issues of violence, injury, and death in the course, and not always coded negatively. Students with sensitivities to this are fairly warned.
Third, the field trip to a firearms education and safety class with optional range visit is an essential part of the course. Students need to know that if they can’t make it, they can’t take the class.
The full text of my Permission of Instructor Info form is below FYI.
I was scheduled to teach Sociology of Religion in Fall 2020. When my current class found this out they expressed considerable disappointment that I wouldn’t be teaching my Sociology of Guns seminar. So I made a last minute change and will be teaching the course for the 6th straight calendar.
I have posted a number of times on this blog and my older Gun Culture 2.0 blog about this seminar I have been teaching in the Department of Sociology at Wake Forest University since 2015. This entry collects as many earlier posts as possible — from both blogs — including many written by students in the class.
This is the seventh and final post 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 and sixth post.)
This student’s reflection is particularly interesting to me because she is — by her own admission — so anti-gun she had a very negative reaction to the field trip.
I lived the first four decades of my life completely outside of gun culture, so I remember well when I started to realize after I moved to North Carolina how common and normal guns are to so many people.
Once I was attuned to the reality of guns outside of their criminal misuse, I didn’t have to look very hard to find them all around me. I realized the annex to our local sports arena holds gun shows several times a year. I noticed ground signs advertising “concealed carry classes” on many heavily trafficked street corners. I saw billboards on area highways displaying advertisements for local gun stores. I also discovered, with astonishment, that many of the highly educated professionals I play tennis with have guns. One owns several long guns that were passed down from his grandfather. Another has two semi-automatic pistols in his basement that he used to shoot regularly. A number of the women in our tennis community also own handguns, mostly for self-defense.
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.
This is the third 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.)
Many gun people take for granted that everyone has a basic familiarity with firearms. As someone who never saw, touched, or fired a (non-BB/pellet) gun for my first 42 years of life, I know there are many of us out there. The student’s reflection below highlights some of the discoveries that can come from venturing into the unknown of a gun store and range.
Sociology of Guns student field trip to ProShots Range, January 2018. Photo by David Yamane
My Sociology of Guns seminar’s annual field trip to the gun range is such a highlight that I sometimes wonder if I should do it at the end of class rather than the beginning. The class really is all down hill after visiting the range.
This semester my 15 students and I once again made the short drive from Wake Forest University to ProShots Range in Rural Hall, North Carolina.
One of the best places to satisfy gun curiosity is at the gun range. So the highlight of my Sociology of Guns seminar at Wake Forest University each year is a field trip we take to a local range. There students get a first exposure to what guns are, how they work, and what it is like to handle them. This provides an essential experiential base of knowledge that carries over through the semester.
Sociology of Guns student learning how to operate an IWI Tavor bullpup rifle at Veterans Range, 2016.
One place I often meet gun curious people is in the Sociology of Guns seminar I teach at Wake Forest University.
As I have for the past four academic years, I am currently teaching the seminar this semester. A PDF of the current syllabus is available, as are my dozens of posts on previous year’s classes.