| Web Exclusives|
|Hot Topic: Gun Control. Choice, v.50, no. 07, March 2013.|
Burbick, Joan. Gun show nation: gun culture and American democracy. New Press, 2006. 232p bibl index; ISBN 1-59558-087-5, $24.95; ISBN 9781595580870, $24.95. Reviewed in 2007jul CHOICE.
44-6413 HV7436 2006-44415 CIP
In this unusual combination of academic scholarship and personal journalism, Burbick (American studies and English, Washington State Univ.) provides a brief history of the gun rights movement in the US from Buffalo Bill Cody through the contemporary National Rifle Association. She points out that since the 1960s, the movement has focused on gun ownership as a way to protect decent citizens from criminal (and recently terrorist) activity; earlier, hunting and target shooting were the primary rationales for private citizens to own guns. Burbick's journalistic segments are based on visits to dozens of gun shows nationwide during the past several years, at which she interviewed hundreds of gun owners and rabid Second Amendment supporters. She treats them fairly, noting, for example, "[W]ith religious gun owners, I often found ordinary [people] trying to make sense of a decadent and dying society." Burdick ends, however, with a ringing critique of gun culture, concluding that "the Second Amendment has become a political weapon to stop democratic processes," a threat to the very values that many gun owners think they are protecting. More readable and accessible than scholarly tomes like William Vizzard's Shots in the Dark (CH, Jun'01, 38-5638). Summing Up: Highly recommended. All libraries. -- A. O. Edmonds, Ball State University
Cukier, Wendy. The global gun epidemic: from Saturday night specials to AK-47s, by Wendy Cukier and Victor W. Sidel. Praeger Security International, 2006. 310p bibl index afp; ISBN 0-275-98256-4, $49.95. Reviewed in 2006jul CHOICE.
43-6790 HV7435 2005-19185 CIP
The authors apply a global public health perspective to the problem of gun-related violence. Their goal is to identify the causal chain leading to injuries, and the epidemiological approach is both the advantage and limitation of the study. It brings together cross-national data, shows how patterns of use differ among countries, compares alternative interventions, and tests some beliefs about cause and effect. In particular, the study documents the critical role of the US in producing and selling firearms that are used around the world. On the other hand, guns are not a disease, but a tool. They empower people, and while some will use that power in self-destructive behavior or illegitimate violence, guns may also be used legitimately to deter and to defend. It should not be surprising that greater access to firearms will, if all other things remain equal, increase the level of firearm-related deaths. It is less clear that "all other things" are not more significant factors, or that the alternatives to gun-related threats and violence might not be worse than the disease. Overall, the data provided is a useful addition to a debate that is far from finished. Summing Up: Recommended General readers, lower-division undergraduates through practitioners. -- D. McIntosh, Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania
DeConde, Alexander. Gun violence in America: the struggle for control. Northeastern University, 2001. 394p bibl index afp; ISBN 1-55553-486-4, $29.95. Reviewed in 2001nov CHOICE.
39-1768 HV7436 00-54821 CIP
This important study examines one of the most contentious social issues confronting the American public: the proliferation of gun-related violence. DeConde (emer., Univ. of California, Santa Barbara) presents an encyclopedic look at "the history of gun keeping," its surrounding myths, and the battle lines that have been drawn, many surprisingly repeated over the past two and a half centuries. The author clearly and persuasively challenges the shibboleth that the Second Amendment was designed to protect individual gun possession, noting that court cases, especially at the federal level, consistently have refuted such a notion. This work discusses the emergence of a gun culture in the US, the increased availability of guns after the Civil War, and the political potency of the National Rifle Association (NRA). During the post-WW II era and especially beginning in the 1970s, the NRA adopted a largely absolutist position, resulting in the organization's estrangement from previous allies in law enforcement. At the same time, its political and financial muscle has prevented passage of the kinds of controls that other democratic states have adopted. All the while, gun-related violence in the US continues to surpass that of its counterparts. Recommended for general readers. -- R. C. Cottrell, California State University, Chico
Firearms and violence: a critical review, ed. by Charles F. Wellford, John V. Pepper, and Carol V. Petrie. National Academies Press, 2005. 328p bibl index; ISBN 0-309-09124-1 , $47.95. Reviewed in 2005dec CHOICE.
43-2523 HV6789 2004-24047 CIP
Using evidence from existing research, the National Research Council, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, examined the role of firearms in violence. In 2000, over 10,000 Americans were murdered by guns and over 48,000 were injured. More suicides than homicides resulted from guns. Firearms were frequently used defensively, presumably to hold off those who would do harm. However, the report's general conclusion is that there is no convincing data on the important questions: Who owns guns of what types, and how often do they use them? What are the characteristics of gun owners? To what degree is violence associated with gun ownership? What effect does the right to carry a concealed weapon (allowed in 34 states) have on crime rates? More accurately, how often are guns used defensively? What are the most effective ways to reduce the use of guns in violence and suicide? This is a most important book. One hopes that it will lead to a reduction in firearm violence. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. -- D. Harper, University of Rochester
Goss, Kristin A. Disarmed: the missing movement for gun control in America. Princeton, 2006. 282p bibl index afp; ISBN 0-691-12424-8, $29.95; ISBN 9780691124247, $29.95. Reviewed in 2007may CHOICE.
44-5311 HV7436 2005-34121 CIP
Goss (Duke Univ.) has written an excellent book, useful to all students of lobbying. Her point of view, briefly, is that no major movement exists to oppose the guns-for-all advocates in the United States. Membership motivation, intimidation, and ample funds that convert into influence and power fuel the NRA and all other firearms lobbyists. Nationwide public opinion polls consistently indicate a stated desire by a majority of people for greater controls on use and ownership of firearms. No major lobbying effort has managed to sustain this desire to enact effective national legislation. Indeed, local and state regulations are often more effective than federal statutes. The author suggests that frequently these gains have been nibbled away (by the NRA), while gun control advocates vainly devoted their efforts to implementing national regulation. This thoughtful, well-documented book should be read and examined by would-be gun control activists and other advocates for social reform, as it illustrates the dilemma of government-that-is, as opposed to government-that-should-be. The author includes notes, references, and excellent bibliography and index. Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers, upper-division undergraduates through practitioners. -- S. L. Harrison, University of Miami
Guns in American society: an encyclopedia of history, politics, culture, and the law, ed. by Gregg Lee Carter. 2nd ed. ABC-CLIO, 2012. 3v bibl index afp; ISBN 9780313386701, $294.00; e-book ISBN 9780313386718 e-book, contact publisher for price. Reviewed in 2012oct CHOICE.
50-0644 HV7436 2011-43435 CIP
This three-volume second edition (1st ed., CH, May'03, 40-4974) has been updated with over 100 new entries, making it the "most current resource available on all aspects of the gun issue." The extensive entries (over 450) are alphabetically listed with page numbers. They range in length from a page ("Women and Gun Control") to several pages ("Tommy Gun," "Columbine School Shooting"), including See Also and "Further Reading" sections. Subjects include "Branch Davidians," "Frontier Justice," "Smart Guns," and "James and Sarah Brady"; readers should have no trouble locating information on a wide variety of gun-related issues. Information is factual, with discussion of both sides of an issue and presentation of material so that readers may form their own conclusions. Sensitive issues, e.g., "African Americans and Gun Control" and "Racism and Gun Control," are addressed. Volume 1 contains a chronology that "presents the ... watershed events that have shaped ... gun debate in American society." The chronology highlights events from 1787 to 2011 and beyond. Appendixes offer material on key federal and state laws, and on organizations concerned with the role of guns in society. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates and above; general readers. -- K. Evans, Indiana State University
Halbrook, Stephen P. The founders' Second Amendment: origins of the right to bear arms. Ivan R. Dee, 2008. 425p index afp; ISBN 1-56663-792-9, $28.95; ISBN 9781566637923, $28.95. Reviewed in 2008nov CHOICE.
46-1672 KF3941 2008-1451 CIP
Halbrook (research fellow, The Independent Institute, Oakland, CA) is a well-published scholar who has written a timely, well-informed, lucid book on the "origins of the right to bear arms." He covers the Second Amendment's historical underpinnings from 1768-1826, and so offers readers a rich interpretive framework from which to grasp the US Supreme Court's (conservative) decision in June 2008, which was handed down after the book's publication. The decision affirms the constitutional right of individuals to keep guns at home for self-defense, and prohibits government from violating said right. (That is, the Court struck down the District of Columbia's ban on individual ownership of handguns.) In brief, Halbrook explores why he believes the "original intent" of the framers was to underscore a personal, and not merely a militia-based, collective right to bear arms. Given his interpretation that only individual persons have substantive rights, whereas it is states that possess "powers" in the requisite sense, it is not unexpected that the author's argument supports the Supreme Court's subsequent decision. Fine index; no bibliography. Summing Up: Recommended. Suitable for educated readers, all levels. -- A. S. Rosenbaum, Cleveland State University
Hemenway, David. Private guns, public health. Michigan, 2004. 326p bibl indexes afp; ISBN 0-472-11405-0, $27.95. Reviewed in 2004dec CHOICE.
42-2252 RD96 2003-24583 CIP
As a professor of health policy, Hemenway (Harvard) takes the public health approach of prevention, not prohibition, in reference to firearms. Highlighting the available research and literature related to guns and gun safety, this text offers an in-depth analysis of the scientific literature on the public health effects of firearms availability. Because more civilians in the US own firearms than in any other nation in the world, and because firearm injuries are the second leading cause of death in the US, the author suggests that it is possible to develop policies to lower injuries and deaths from firearms with consideration of criminal justice, mental health, and safety issues. Following a thorough review of the data related to gun injuries, deaths (intentional and unintentional), and self-defense, the author describes the demography of gun users and victims and the ready supply of guns in the US. In a further examination of policies, he notes that too often the focus is on the criminal user rather than the public health policies that could target manufacturers, licensed dealers, private sellers, owners, and carriers of guns. An extensive bibliography provides additional resources. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates and above; general readers. -- M. P. Tarbox, Mount Mercy College
Horwitz, Joshua. Guns, democracy, and the insurrectionist idea, by Joshua Horwitz and Casey Anderson. Michigan, 2009. 274p bibl index afp; ISBN 9780472033706 pbk, $26.95; ISBN 9780472115723, $65.00. Outstanding Title! Reviewed in 2010apr CHOICE.
47-4703 JC599 2009-14539 CIP
Horowitz (Johns Hopkins Univ.) and Anderson (Georgetown Univ.) create an argument unique to the gun debate and not only challenge the conservative argument that more guns equal more freedom, but argue that the insurrectionist idea is a true threat to freedom. The authors frame the gun debate as one that should be viewed as a discussion on America's civic health. The book is broken into three main sections: "The Insurrectionists," "History according to the Insurrectionists," and "Insurrectionism, Democracy, and Freedom." They begin by defining insurrectionism and explain the political agenda of the insurrectionists. This section of the book is especially valuable for scholars because it is emblematic of inconsistencies within the insurrectionist idea. The middle chapters address the historical founding of the insurrectionists. These chapters are particularly fascinating as the authors trace the guns laws from the Articles of Confederation through contemporary democracies and include acts of genocide. The authors use the final chapters to make more aggressive arguments regarding the gun debate. The relationship among gun rights and democracy are far more complicated than the insurrectionists believe. The sheer originality of this book makes it a necessity for undergraduates, graduates, and laypeople interested in a fascinating conversation about the gun debate and insurrectionists. Summing Up: Essential. All readership levels. -- A. R. S. Lorenz, Ramapo College
Kellner, Douglas. Guys and guns amok: domestic terrorism and school shootings from the Oklahoma City bombing to the Virginia Tech massacre. Paradigm Publishers, 2008. 221p bibl index afp; ISBN 9781594514920, $85.00; ISBN 9781594514937 pbk, $24.95. Reviewed in 2008sep CHOICE.
46-0599 HN90 2007-45369 CIP
Education professor Kellner (UCLA) has been a rather prolific author, producing a number of books in the past few years (e.g., Media Spectacle and the Crisis of Democracy, CH, Sep'05, 43-0621; Grand Theft 2000: Media Spectacle and a Stolen Election, CH, Apr'02, 39-4867). In this book, Kellner explains the wave of school shootings and mass terrorism that has become too common in the US. Numerous scholars and social commentators have attempted to provide a reasonable explanation for the violence. However, no one has clearly articulated a comprehensive reason for this complex phenomenon. Kellner argues that the shooters at Columbine and Virginia Tech and the domestic terrorists at Oklahoma City tried to resolve their crisis of masculinity through violent behavior. He contends that the perpetrators were social outcasts who searched for purpose in a culture that associates guns and militarism with masculinity. This distorted, media-shaped view of masculinity driven and glorified by the corporate mass media, television, movies, and the Internet has created a devastating cocktail of sorts, corrupting the image of men while coarsening US culture. Kellner proposes a number of changes, including stricter gun control laws and media projection of newer, more constructive views of masculinity. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. -- J. B. Cook, North Greenville University
Pogrebin, Mark R. Guns, violence, and criminal behavior: the offender's perspective, by Mark L. Pogrebin, Paul B. Stretesky, and N. Prabha Unnithan. L. Rienner, 2009. 155p bibl index afp; ISBN 9781588266651, $49.95. Reviewed in 2010mar CHOICE.
47-4135 HV7436 2009-9889 CIP
Pogrebin and Stretesky (both, Univ. of Colorado, Denver) and Unnithan (Colorado State Univ.) have produced a well-developed scholarly text that thoroughly presents and defends their findings on the underexamined subject of gun violence from the perspective of criminals. The empirical interviews and information obtained from Colorado inmates provides rich, firsthand insights into the extended motivations and justifications of offenders, which further parallels the work of previous studies. This research appropriately cites and connects with the classic journal articles of Gary Kleck and Mark Gertz, and Gresham Sykes and David Matza; Marianne Zawitz's Bureau of Justice Statistics report Firearm Injury from Crime (1996); and James Wright and Peter Rossi's Armed and Considered Dangerous (CH, Apr'87; new 2nd ed. 2008). The examination and discussion of "shall-issue" concealed carry gun laws is pertinent to this study. However, an important accompanying issue that the authors fail to adequately acknowledge is the feeling of security that citizens who carry firearms receive, even in the absence of actually being safer. An excellent addition. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. -- R. M. Seklecki, Minot State University
Spitzer, Robert J. Gun control: a documentary and reference guide. Greenwood, 2009. 333p bibl index afp; ISBN 9780313345661, $85.00. Reviewed in 2009jul CHOICE.
46-5981 KF3941 2008-37472 CIP
Spitzer (SUNY at Cortland) offers an excellent compilation of primary documents and other information on one of the most contentious and divisive topics that many first-year students research for entry-level English and speech classes. Although several reference-type books on gun control are available, including Harry Henderson's Gun Control (rev. ed., 2005; 1st ed., CH, Jan'01, 38-3004) and Glenn Utter's Encyclopedia of Gun Control and Gun Rights (CH, Sep'00, 38-0069), this book is more useful for high school and undergraduate students. Covering contemporary and historical areas of the great gun debate, this volume allows students to approach their arguments from a variety of angles. They can pull from political debates, the Republican versus the Democratic platform, federal and state laws, federal and state court cases, primary resources such as letters and documents, and analysis and commentary on the issues, among other sources. The easily comprehensible format, the many bibliographic sources provided, and the list of gun control Web sites will enhance students' research. The US witnesses the consequences of gun control or the lack thereof every day. This book, on a vital and interesting topic, would be an excellent addition to large public libraries and to high school and college libraries. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-level undergraduates and general readers. -- D. J. Turner, Auraria Library
Strain, Christopher B. Reload: rethinking violence in American life. Vanderbilt, 2011 (c2010). 162p bibl index afp; ISBN 9780826517425 pbk, $24.95; ISBN 9780826517418, $49.95. Outstanding Title! Reviewed in 2011jun CHOICE.
48-6000 HN90 2010-20351 CIP
This work provides well-organized, point-counterpoint discussions regarding the spiraling rise of violence in the US and the social changes required to generate the necessary remedies. Strain (Florida Atlantic Univ.) reaffirms the vast differences between other industrialized nations and the US addiction to violence, exemplified by the presence of firearms in US homes and the American association of masculinity with the display of a firearm to resolve disputes. The supporting material for these critical connections is solid and irrefutable, including children's exposure to violent media programming that contributes to a commercial supply and demand for violence. Notably missing from this and most other research on this subject is any generally plausible, realistic solution. Yes, something must be done to curb the proliferation of violence-based electronic warfare entertainment initiatives. However, such efforts are on a collision course with the endless pursuit of sales and increased market share. Does anyone have a plan for retrieving the 200 million rifles and shotguns and 50 million handguns in private homes throughout the US without incurring thousands of casualties? Indispensable for any criminal justice collection. Summing Up: Essential. All levels/libraries. -- R. M. Seklecki, Minot State University
Tushnet, Mark V. Out of range: why the Constitution can't end the battle over guns. Oxford, 2007. 156p index afp (Inalienable rights series, 3); ISBN 9780195304244, $19.95. Reviewed in 2008jul CHOICE.
45-6455 KF3941 2007-11748 CIP
Tushnet (Harvard Law School) writes about the Second Amendment with awareness of what is going on in the courts, at law schools, and in the streets--or in this case, the woods. He begins with campaign photo ops containing guns. From this vantage point he describes the impact of gun culture on "the right to bear arms." Tushnet does not seem frightened by his finding that gun culture is very strong in the US. He moves from there to reasoned inquiry into experiments with gun regulation. The book evinces considerable immersion into the worlds of people who own guns, including what they believe, where they live, and how they argue. This should be informative to his traditional, critical legal audience. Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers, all undergraduate students, and professionals. -- J. Brigham, University of Massachusetts
Utter, Glenn H. Encyclopedia of gun control and gun rights, by Glenn H. Utter and Robert J. Spitzer. 2nd ed. Grey House, 2011. 550p bibl index; ISBN 9781592376728, $165.00. Reviewed in 2012jan CHOICE.
49-2442 KF3941 2011-290626 CIP
Few issues in American public policy are more polarizing than the debate over gun control and gun rights. Utter (Lamar Univ.) first published this useful encyclopedia in 2000 (CH, Sep'00, 38-0069), and this second edition is a most welcome update. New to this edition is a chronology of important events in the history of the issue--ranging from 1775 (Colonial militiamen) to the 2011 shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and others in Tucson, Arizona. An insightful introductory essay, supplemented by statistical tables, provides a solid overview to an ambitious encyclopedia featuring over 300 entries on organizations (ATF, NRA), laws (state, federal), events (Columbine, Virginia Tech), and individuals (Brady, Obama). Of particular reference use is a guide to selected topics grouping the entries by topic. While primarily focusing on the US experience, this volume also addresses other countries (UK, Japan, etc.). Primary documents (court cases, acts of law) are reproduced, as are appendixes, including a list of organizations advocating gun rights and control. This well-illustrated work presents the various sides of the issues in a fair, nonbiased manner. Summing Up: Recommended. Academic and public libraries; lower- and upper-level undergraduates, general readers. -- D. K. Frasier, Indiana University—Bloomington
Williams, David C. The mythic meanings of the Second Amendment: taming political violence in a constitutional republic. Yale, 2003. 397p index afp; ISBN 0-300-09562-7, $45.00. Reviewed in 2003sep CHOICE.
41-0611 KF4558 2002-11549 CIP
Williams (law, Indiana Univ.) examines two diametrically opposed theories or "myths" currently used to explain the meaning of the Second Amendment's right to keep and bear arms. Supporters of each are sure of the rightness of their positions and, Williams argues, both naive and historically wrong. The individual rights theory interprets the amendment to guarantee an individual right to bear arms, while the collective rights position takes the view that this right is not an individual one but is designed to protect state militias from federal abolition. The former is naive in its belief that disparate individuals possessing arms will coalesce into a force to thwart governmental oppression, while the latter's naivet^D’e comes in its trust in the government not to be oppressive. Williams provides substantial evidence to rebut both theories and to support his view that the Amendment was intended to provide a right to revolt against an oppressive government by the "Body of the People," a universal militia united by a common culture. Since this no longer exists, the author suggests ways in which we might achieve new forms of popular unity and checks and balances in 21st-century society. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels. -- M. W. Bowers, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Wilson, Harry L. Guns, gun control, and elections: the politics and policy of firearms. Rowman & Littlefield, 2007. 277p bibl index afp; ISBN 0-7425-5347-7, $72.00; ISBN 0742553485 pbk, $34.95; ISBN 9780742553477, $72.00; ISBN 9780742553484 pbk, $34.95. Reviewed in 2007feb CHOICE.
44-3554 HV7436 2006-3835 CIP
This is a clearly written, well-documented summary of the gun control issue in the US. Wilson, director of the Center for Community Research at Roanoke College, runs a course where students receive college credit for engaging in survey research, including research on the gun control issue. The volume capably covers the constitutional rulings interpreting the Second Amendment and synthesizes debates over how to frame the issue in a political context. Wilson describes national and state policies regulating firearms, analyzes public opinion about gun rights and gun control and its role in the voting calculus, and portrays how interest groups on all sides of the issue pursue their respective agendas. The author insightfully studies the distinctive role the mass media play in the overall discussion. Throughout, the coverage is balanced, not an easy task for such a controversial issue. The book draws upon an extensive array of social science research from several disciplines, especially criminology and political science. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates. -- E. T. Jones, University of Missouri--St. Louis
Winkler, Adam. Gunfight: the battle over the right to bear arms in America. W. W. Norton, 2011. 361p bibl index; ISBN 9780393077414, $27.95. Reviewed in 2012apr CHOICE.
49-4752 KF3941 2011-14429 CIP
Winkler (Univ. of California, Los Angeles) presents an examination of the current legal environment of gun control in the wake of the Supreme Court's District of Columbia v. Heller decision. According to Winkler, the modern debate over control has devolved into extremist arguments pitting liberals, who want to confiscate most guns in America, against conservatives who stand opposed to any reasonable gun control efforts. While this characterization rests on a good deal of exaggeration, Winkler offers his book as a moderate alternative perspective, viewing the Heller decision as an extension of a long-standing attempt in the US to balance gun rights and gun control. While many liberals condemned the Heller decision's extension of the Second Amendment to state efforts to regulate firearms, Winkler applauds the decision as an example of judicial statesmanship. In praising Scalia's opinion in the case, Winkler argues that Heller failed to vindicate either side's extreme position and has instead created the conditions in which rational political compromise can now be reached, balancing protection for gun rights with concern for public safety. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers, undergraduate students, and graduate students. -- E. C. Sands, Berry College
Editor’s note: The following pertinent title will be reviewed in a forthcoming issue:
Fleming, Anthony K. Gun policy in the United States and Canada: the impact of mass murders and assassinations on gun control. Continuum International Publishing Group, 2012.
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