My Sociology of Guns syllabus reads, “If you engage this course thoughtfully and with commitment, by the end of the semester you will achieve the following learning objectives…” The first listed objective is:
Better understand the multifaceted role guns play in the U.S., including the history and legalities, and the everyday uses and abuses. Relatedly, you will be able to approach the issue of guns in society in a scholarly – that is, objective and nuanced – manner from a sociological perspective.
To this end, students are required to “consider the role guns actually play in society by systematically engaging sociological theories and studies (called ‘the scholarly literature’) on one specific aspect of the broader phenomenon (e.g., concealed carry, homicide, self-defense, hunting, sport).” Students are allowed to choose a topic that is of interest to them that they want to investigate further.
Topics chosen by student this semester are:
- The social psychology of gun ownership
- How legal guns get into criminal hands
- The portrayal of guns in the media and possible effects
- Armed teachers in schools
- Gangs and guns/violence
- Effect of legal concealed carry on crime
- Concealed carry on college campuses
- Explaining school shootings
- Guns and the culture of honor
- Mass shootings and gun control internationally
- Hunting – the persistence of Gun Culture 1.0 in Gun Culture 2.0
- Mental illness and guns/violence
The students clearly have the same interests in guns as Americans do generally, both those inside and those outside gun culture.
It will be interesting to see what scholarly literature they find on these topics, that those literatures say, what they DON’T say, and what more needs to be done.