Guns in America

Northeast LibraryRead Feed

Guns in America

In the context of mass shootings, police violence and the second amendment, Americans continue to disagree about the place that guns should have in our society. Are gun deaths the result of access to firearms or violent tendencies in the individual? What, if any, gun control is reasonable and constitutional? What did the founders intend with the second amendment? How did we become a country that has so many guns? What is the reality beyond all the hyperbole? These books will hopefully inform you about the history of guns in America and our current use of them.

The Gunning of America: Business and the Making of American Gun Culture by Pamela Haag
This narrative history asks us to rethink what we know about American history and guns. The author argues that even before the American Revolution, guns had been a common, everyday part of American life. Looking at guns as a commodity, she traces their marketing and selling by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company throughout its long history. Haag particularly looks at the fascinating character of Sarah Winchester, who supposedly was haunted by the ghosts of those killed by her family's guns. This long, well-researched book is both compelling and comprehensive.

The Way of the Gun: A Bloody Journey into the World of Firearms by Iain Overton
The author tries to put America's unique relationship with guns in an international context. A gun owner himself, Overton is highly disturbed by the international gun economy and the violence it allows to happen throughout the world. He works as a journalist for an international nonprofit called Action on Armed Violence. This book is global in its scope, looking across countries, at criminal and legal players and comparing social and political effects.

Stand Your Ground: A History of America's Love Affair with Lethal Self-defense by Caroline E. Light
Though this book is not technically focused just on guns, as it traces the legal and cultural history of the right to "stand your ground," guns play a large role in the narrative. Written after Sandy Hook, Light's book argues that the spike in firearm sales after each mass shooting is the result of Americans' faith in their ability and right to react with lethal force if they feel threatened. The author argues that this has been used as a way for the most privileged (the white and the wealthy) to keep their positions of power and to brutalize the most vulnerable. This strong perspective colors Light's reading of all of American history and the role of guns in it.

Thunder in the Mountains: a Portrait of American Gun Culture by Craig K. Collins
Part memoir and part history, Collins weaves together his own, his family's, and our country's relationship with guns. Growing up hunting in Idaho and Nevada, Collins was shot in a hunting accident as a teen. This, along with other stories of family and friends with guns, gives him a unique lens with which he views firearms, American history, and our current gun debates. He looks at the role of guns in a variety of contextsIndian massacres, the Civil War, the hunting of the buffalo and the gold rushand considers what role they should play in our future.

Glock: the Rise of America's Gun by Paul M. Barrett
Focusing on the glock, the gun used by two-thirds of police departments and amazingly popular among the general public, Barrett tells of its invention and saturation of the market. The manufacturer's advertising made it one of the most popular guns in America, but its ease of use, indestructibility and reliability helped as well. The gun used to shoot Gabrielle Giffords along with countless others, the glock is an interesting case study in the way that American gun culture has both changed over time and remained the same.

The Second Amendment: A Biography by Michael Waldman
Written by the president of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, this book looks at the legal history of the amendment that has been the focus of so much debate and disagreement. Waldman tries to explain the original context of the amendment and the different ways it's been interpreted over time. Looking at a variety of court cases and the different legal philosophies which impact them, Waldman considers what the second amendment really means.