Guns in American Culture
Soc. 96C, 11:45-12:35 MWF, Spring 2014
L207 Lafayette
Prof. Daniel Krymkowski


Columbine. Tucson. Aurora. Newtown. The Washington Navy Yard. Mass shootings such as these have kept the gun issue very much in the public eye. Unfortunately, the debate has become rather vitriolic, characterized by a number of overly simplistic views. This course seeks to inform students about the historic and contemporary role of firearms in American culture, in order to enable a more reasoned discussion. Questions such as the following will be considered. Why does the United States have the highest rate of gun ownership in the world? What are the demographics of gun ownership? In particular, why are men so much more likely to own guns than women? What is the relationship between guns and violence? The United States has a high rate of homicide with firearms, but Vermont has extensive gun ownership with little homicide. How can we explain this? Can gun control be effective? What do scientific studies reveal about this? What role does the National Rifle Association play in the debate, and how did it come to be such an influential lobbying organization?