Unusual Programs is an occasional collection from The Dialog U.S. highlighting unconventional approaches to instructing.
Title after all:
“Sociology of Weapons”
What prompted the thought for the course?
I grew up within the liberal tradition of the San Francisco Bay Space and by no means touched a firearm till I used to be 42 years outdated, dwelling in North Carolina and instructing sociology at Wake Forest College.
For the previous 10-plus years I’ve been deeply immersed in American gun tradition each professionally and personally. I’ve each studied and am a member of the Liberal Gun Membership, Nationwide Rifle Affiliation and different gun-related teams.
Having one foot outdoors and one foot inside gun tradition permits me to see the social lifetime of weapons from completely different views. Eager to convey this range to others prompted me to assemble and train this course for the primary time in 2015. This fall, I’ll train the course for the ninth consecutive tutorial yr.
What does the course discover?
Reasonably than focusing completely on gun violence and politics, my course appears extra broadly at weapons in society.
The category begins by actually placing firearms in college students’ arms.
The primary class assembly is at a gun vary, the place college students have the chance – however aren’t required – to shoot three semi-automatic firearms: a .22 pistol, a Glock 17 9 mm pistol and an AR-15 type .223 caliber rifle. The sector journey is a supply of perception that carries via the complete semester.
Substantively, the course builds on the scholars’ firsthand expertise of weapons by exploring the multifaceted function they play in society. It places weapons in historic, authorized and world contexts. The intention is to supply college students with a higher understanding of the lawful possession and use of weapons, gun crime and accidents, and the way forward for gun politics.
Visitor audio system range from semester to semester however embody leaders of assorted gun proprietor teams, skilled gun educators and trainers, and representatives of gun violence prevention organizations.
Why is that this course related now?
It usually feels as if the USA is being torn aside by cultural and political divisions over weapons. As Mark Joslyn argues in “The Gun Hole,” the completely different social worlds inhabited by gun homeowners and non-owners form not simply their basic orientations to weapons, danger and coverage, however their very understanding of what constitutes society.
I consider that we as a society can’t restore this divide till folks start to speak to one another about their variations with the objective of mutual understanding. These conversations needs to be constructed on a stable basis of empirical data concerning the function weapons truly play in society – each constructive and damaging.
What’s a crucial lesson from the course?
The journey to the gun vary stands out as a result of it affords direct publicity to gunfire. As anticipated, scholar responses range. Most take pleasure in it. Some dislike it. Nobody is detached. All are higher in a position to relate to the course materials due to it.
Particularly, those that have been personally repulsed by weapons previous to the sector journey usually come to see why weapons might be enticing to others. Those that had lacked publicity usually develop into gun curious. And the few gun lovers I get in my course don’t simply have their enthusiasm strengthened; in addition they perceive why others see weapons otherwise.
Reflecting on the sector journey expertise over the course of the semester via the lens of scholarship on weapons turns the warmth of gunfire on the vary into the sunshine of comprehension within the classroom.
What supplies does the course function?
“The Liberal Gun Homeowners Lens, Pillar 1: The Human-Weapon Relationship” – which explains the deep anthropological connection between Homo sapiens and projectile weaponry.
“Gunfight: The Battle Over the Proper to Bear Arms in America_,” – Adam Winkler’s magnificent e-book on the historic and authorized context of weapons.
“Gun Tradition 2.0: The Evolution and Contours of Defensive Gun Possession in America” – my complete abstract of the historical past and improvement of gun tradition in the USA.
What’s going to the course put together college students to do?
“Sociology of Weapons” teaches college students to method this fraught matter in a extra goal and nuanced method encompassing each the on a regular basis makes use of and abuses of firearms. This information then helps college students higher perceive their very own private beliefs about and relationship to weapons.
Taken collectively, these classes put together college students to make knowledgeable selections for the remainder of their lives about being concerned with weapons – or not – in addition to the place of weapons within the communities through which they may stay.