National media headlines likely won’t be free of firearm related tragedies anytime soon. Our social media feeds probably won’t suddenly be free of arguments between 2nd Amendment proponents and gun control advocates. Wherever you fall on the political spectrum, it doesn’t matter, because shit ain’t going away anytime soon. But we can all try to be — as dispassionately as possible — educated about the subject of firearms.
So here’s a proposition for you:
What books about firearms do you like? Why? You can list a scholarly text or a popular book. You can list something about the history of a weapon or a sociological examination of the tool’s impacts.
For my offering, I’ll toss out two titles to start the conversation.
First, there is David Hemenway’s Private Guns, Public Health, published in 2006. Hemenway is a professor at Health Policy at the Harvard School of Public Health. Now, if you’re the type to say, “He’s from Harvard, what do you expect from ivory tower elitists?” then just leave the conversation now. But if you’d like to see what someone who studies public health for a living has to say, in a very scholarly way, about gun violence, then this is a good book to start. It’s a serious read written by a world class researcher. This isn’t US Weekly but it is digestible for a layperson.
Second, I always go back to Larry Kahaner’s AK-47: The Weapon that Changed War. More of a mainstream type book, this text examines the cultural and political impact of a weapon that isn’t particularly well-made. But what initially might have seemed to be shortcomings have ultimately helped make the gun a worldwide phenomenon. Kahaner actually argues that the AK-47 has had more of a political impact than the nuclear bomb.
So that gets us started. And yes, I realize I’m probably going to have to close this post and this conversation will go no where. But at least for a moment, let’s pretend that we can have legitimate conversations about books that touch upon an important subject in our world today.