Social Sciences: Gun Culture | April 15, 2013

Baum, Dan. Gun Guys: A Road Trip. Knopf. 2013. 336p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780307595416. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307962218. SOC SCI

A self-described Jewish Democrat from New Jersey, Baum is also a passionate “gun guy.” To better understand gun culture, Baum put on his NRA cap, strapped on his legally concealed handgun, and hit the road to talk to gun owners. What emerges is a welcome corrective to the current deeply polarized and rage-filled debate about guns in the United States. Baum’s perspective as a liberal who loves guns allows him to write with refreshing clarity about an issue that is usually addressed only from one side or the other of a deep cultural divide. The “road trip” narrative gives the book momentum. Readers will almost certainly find some of their assumptions about armed America challenged by Baum’s evenhanded exploration of the subject. VERDICT This is briskly paced, personal, funny, and engrossing. Extreme partisans on either side of the “gun issue” are unlikely to be moved by Baum’s travel narrative, while readers interested in a fresh perspective on a divisive issue will be pleased. General readers interested in gaining a better understanding of the appeal of guns and their role in American culture will enjoy this candid exploration of our gun culture. [See Prepub Alert 10/1/12.]—Rachel Bridgewater, Portland Community Coll., OR

Diaz, Tom. The Last Gun: How Changes in the Gun Industry Are Killing Americans and What It Will Take To Stop It. New Pr. Apr. 2013. 336p. notes. ISBN 9781595588302. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781595588418. SOC SCI

As he did in his previous book, Making a Killing: The Business of Guns in America, Diaz (former senior policy analyst, Violence Policy Center) here argues passionately for stricter gun-control regulations. Following on the previous book, he looks at the changes taking place in the gun industry as it markets more lethal weapons to the consumer and seeks to influence state and national legislation in favor of more lax gun laws as well as frame the way we as a society think and speak about gun violence. Highlighting the growing lethality of easily acquired firearms and the influence of the gun lobby on our ability to access data related to gun crime, Diaz, a former NRA member and gun enthusiast, offers actions that concerned citizens, policymakers, the media, and public health practitioners can take to lessen the future incidence of gun violence in America. VERDICT Gun-control activists will welcome this book, which will find a broader audience with increased interest in the renewed national gun-control debate in the wake of the Aurora, Newtown, and other recent shootings.—Elizabeth Winter, Georgia Inst. of Technology Lib., Atlanta