Blog - “I Am Grateful for This Experience That Forced Me to Get Uncomfortable (Fall 2022 Student Range Visit Reflection

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This is the seventh of several student gun range field trip reflection essays from my fall 2022 Sociology of Guns seminar (see reflection #1 and reflection #2 and reflection #3 and reflection #4 and reflection #5 and reflection #6). 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.
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Sociology of Guns students at range, Fall 2022. Photo by Sandra Stroud Yamane By Hanna Vasconcello Growing up with immigrant parents in a city full of people like me (Miami) meant I did not have many chances to see day-to-day manifestations of American culture like guns. My first idea of gun culture came around 2012 after the Sandy Hook shooting. Because I had never had an experience with a firearm before, my immediate response to guns was negative. The intensity of my disdain for guns constantly fluctuated, but my general attitude was discomfort with the idea of owning, using, or enjoying a firearm. To me, they represented the ugly parts of humanity, like violence and destruction. It was not until about a year ago that my opinion toward guns started shifting. As I have had to live alone and be in situations where I felt helpless, I have come to terms with how helpful a gun can be in protecting oneself. I also have friends who own guns, which has made me reconsider my negative attitudes toward gun owners. Therefore, my understanding of firearms was more accepting by the time the gun range field trip came around. However, I did not plan to touch or shoot a gun during the trip, an out-of-character decision for my adrenaline-junkie personality. I had never held a gun in my life, and I never saw myself as a person who could shoot one. Maybe I was still carrying some negative assumptions, or perhaps I was terrified of something going wrong once the gun was in my hands. I ended up shooting all three guns. Once I saw the other girls enjoying themselves, I felt encouraged to join them and see whether this was fun. Self-defense is easy to understand, but I could never grasp why people took joy in guns. How people could hold a firearm and have fun was beyond me. Once I got the hang of gripping and shooting the gun, it started making sense. I found myself smiling and genuinely enjoying my time up there, holding the gun. I congratulated the other girls on their skills and laughed with them. Here we were, gathered together and joking around, all while shooting guns. This experience wholly contrasted with my previously negative views of people who enjoy guns. Having fun with firearms does not equate to taking pleasure in violence or hurting others. Indeed, guns can act as a social facilitator through which people come together to have some friendly competition. On top of unexpectedly having fun, I was also surprised by how normal the gun felt in my hands. I mentioned before how I did not grow up with guns. One consequence of that was how they have always seemed so far away from my reality. In other words, guns have never felt real to me. Therefore, it is needless to say that the gun initially felt weird in my hands. Its shape, texture, and weight were an unfamiliar combination that took a couple of seconds to get used to. I still vividly remember the harsh vibration and the furious pop after my first shot. After a few more shots, I was surprised to see how quickly the activity became familiar. The loud bangs became less formidable and the bodily aftershocks less unwelcome. This sudden normalcy was significant for me because I have spent my formative years thinking of guns as these mythical objects venerated by hillbillies and sadists. My experience most certainly negated this prejudice and introduced me to the ordinary nature of firearms.
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Sociology of Guns student at the range, Fall 2022. Photo by Sandra Stroud Yamane If I showed teenage Hanna the picture of me shooting the semi-automatic rifle at Veteran’s Range, she would have been dumbstruck. The countless school shootings and the lack of gun exposure made her hate these lethal weapons, so she would probably wonder what made her change her mind a couple of years later. I would tell her that I am not a recently-converted gun enthusiast. However, I would say that I understand them better. Guns can be normal, fun, and provide a sense of safety. Unfortunately, the media does not show people cautiously using guns in a controlled setting, which is why some may come to find them appalling and dangerous. While I can see the good side of guns more clearly, some parts of gun culture still make me uncomfortable. For example, I still cannot fathom civilians possessing arsenals that contain borderline military-grade weapons. Nevertheless, I am grateful for this experience that forced me to get uncomfortable and face a reality I did not know existed. This content originally appeared at text and was written by David Yamane This content is syndicated and does not necessarily reflect the views or positions of The Liberal Gun Club

Source: https://guncurious.wordpress.com/2022/1 ... lection-7/

Re: Blog - “I Am Grateful for This Experience That Forced Me to Get Uncomfortable (Fall 2022 Student Range Visit Reflect

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Having fun with firearms does not equate to taking pleasure in violence or hurting others. Indeed, guns can act as a social facilitator through which people come together to have some friendly competition. On top of unexpectedly having fun, I was also surprised by how normal the gun felt in my hands.
They are not the "evil weapons" that are portrayed by the Bloomie lobbyists. I'd say this student is in the 36% that pollsters say don't own a gun, but could see themselves owning a gun. They have an understanding of firearms (thanks to their "Sociology of Guns" class) including when and where it's appropriate to use them.
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Re: Blog - “I Am Grateful for This Experience That Forced Me to Get Uncomfortable (Fall 2022 Student Range Visit Reflect

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Super cool coming across this post!

I had a similar experience, albeit at a different phase of life and coming from a different place, in grad school. In about 2010 or so, I was in my early 50s and halfway through grad school for clinical psychology. I was going to a VERY liberal grad school in Southern California, and while I generally had a really a positive experience there, I did feel like the academic environment was a little insular. Also, being more of a '70s liberal, albeit one who has very significant white male privilege, I often felt like the flavor of liberalism being practiced was a bit too pacifist, too anti-gun, and didn't balance the need for raising awareness with the... er, often more compelling need for direct action. A little too talky for me.

I expected that when I proposed, for an independent study project, to visit a gun range frequented by law enforcement and military, that my idea wouldn't even be taken seriously.

I was pleasantly surprised. (Among other reasons, the goal was to be more comfortable if I had to work with LEOs or vets.)

But then I had to go do the project, which actually DID make me very uncomfortable. I had a gun, but had not shot it in at least 10 years. The hardest part was just signing in and getting set up-- once I was in my boothon the range, it was a great experience. And it DID succeed in the goal-- I don't work with a whole lot of LEOs or vets, but over the last 10 years or so (including clinical training) it's been more than a handful-- probably more than two-hands-ful. And it's been a privilege and an honor.

I understand your thoughts about military grade weapons. I've never felt the need for full auto, don't understand it-- I like efficiency, small, lightweight cars and bikes, so for me it's both an issue of safety and preference. OTOH, I think the way 'assault weapons' are conceived and defined seems bizarre at both extremes of the political spectrum. Generally, I don't mind some limits, while other regs seem like they are based on ephemeral concepts rather than practical ones. Like, no pistol grips? Really?

Anyway, glad you had a good experience! Just found this place this week.

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