I am very excited to be teaching my sociology of guns seminar again this fall. Students are registering for fall classes right now, so I’ve been talking to some students who are excited to take the course, based on what they’ve heard from students in the fall 2015 class. (In case you missed previous posts, begin here to get into some of the many posts written by me and my students.)
I will definitely be reprising some of the highlights from Round 1, including our introduction to firearms class and range visit, a visitor from a local gun store, and a guest speaker from Moms Demand Action or another gun control group. I would like to have more guest speakers — e.g., someone from Grass Roots North Carolina — but I already try to cover more material than is realistic in one semester, so not sure that will happen. I would also like to take a more global focus, but just understanding the role of guns in American society is already a tall order.
The basic description of the class remains unchanged:
Guns often have a spectacular presence in the American imagination, from George Zimmerman to Sandy Hook Elementary to the American sniper Chris Kyle. But guns are also a part of everyday life in communities across the United States. They are used as tools of criminal violence and self-defense, and are one of the mostly commonly owned pieces of sporting equipment in the country.
Clearly, guns are an important part of American society and culture. With more than 300,000,000 guns held by private citizens and a Constitutional amendment associated with gun ownership, the possession, regulation, meaning, and use of firearms reaches into important realms of American society, including: civil rights and liberties, identity and culture, crime and violence, public health and personal safety, and even sport and leisure.
This course explores the multifaceted role guns play in the U.S. from a sociological perspective. From a firm foundation of understanding the history and technology of firearms, as well as the historical and constitutional origins of the right to keep and bear arms, the course will focus on a range of topics, including: the prevalence and distribution of guns; attitudes and opinions about gun ownership; lawful possession and use of firearms; legal and illegal gun markets; gun crime and injuries; and the varieties of responses to gun injuries and crime.