Shooters: Myths and Realities of America's Gun Cultures

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9780195150513: Shooters: Myths and Realities of America's Gun Cultures
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In the white-hot debate over guns and gun control in America, there is one fact on which both sides in this increasingly polarized conflict can agree: Americans love their guns. 73 million Americans own guns. This translates to 1 gun owner out of every 4 citizens, many of whom, to account for the 250 million weapons currently in circulation, own several. While these facts are undisputed, a related but different question is endlessly contested: why do Americans so love their guns? Broadly speaking, what exactly is the appeal of the gun?

In this important work, Abigail Kohn immerses herself in the world of "shooters." Emphasizing that not all owners are necessarily enthusiasts, Kohn dispenses with the knee-jerk dogma and rhetoric that has too often passed for reportage to travel directly to the heart of American gun culture. Frequenting gun shops and shooting ranges, and devoting particular attention to those whose interest in weaponry extends beyond the casual, she captures in finegrained and often entertaining, yet always humane, detail how gun owners actually think and feel about their guns. Through her conversations--with cowboy action shooters at a regional match, sport shooters, hunters, with shooters of all ages and races--we hear of the "savage beauty" of a beautifully crafted long gun, of the powerful historical import owners attach to their guns, of the sense of empowerment that comes with shooting skill, and the visceral thrill of discharging a dangerous weapon. Kohn convincingly brings out the myths, norms, and beliefs of gun ownership, stressing how values such as individualism, toughness, and liberty are intricately linked with the gun and exploring how these core values connect pro-gun ideology to wider cultural and political concerns.

Cutting through the cliches that link gun ownership with violent, criminal subcultures and portray shooters as "gun nuts" or potential terrorists, Abigail Kohn provides us with a lively and untainted portrait of American gun enthusiasts.

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About the Author:


Abigail Kohn is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute of Criminology at the University of Sydney Law School. She has published articles in Reason Magazine as well as a number of academic journals.

Review:


"A fascinating look into the world(s) of gun enthusiasm that puts real, human faces on a gun debate dominated by antiseptic statistics and abstract principles. After reading Shooters, youll wonder why no one has done such a study before."--Reason


Shooters constitutes a true break-through: readers will discover an even-handed analysis that examines the gun amid these American landscapes."--The Electric Review


"While academics continue to convince each other of their brilliant rationality in condemning guns and gun owners, Abby Kohn takes a courageous step to "the other side," beginning a discourse in which the massive appeal of guns can finally start to be appreciated. Her empirical investigation of the appeal of guns to enthusiasts is a long overdue movement in the only direction that can actually lead to policies that might reduce criminal violence."-- Jack Katz, author of Seductions of Crime


"Abigail Kohn's Shooters opens wide a window into the diverse and much misunderstood world of gun enthusiasts. Kohn provides a rich account of the subculture of the men and women who use guns recreationally as well as for self-defense. Her exploration of their motives and satisfactions is subtle and insightful. Moreover, Kohn deftly situates the current debate over guns in the context of the role guns have played in shaping American culture and character. Shooters deserves a wide audience. It may not change the hardened positions in the debate over guns, but no one will put this book down without having had to rethink their attitude toward guns and the men and women who use them."--Jan Dizard, co-editor of Guns in America


"Abigail Kohn brings a fresh, and extraordinarily well-informed, voice to the gun control debate. Her research into the world of gun enthusiasts lends depth and richness to this complex segment of American society, giving the lie to the often demeaning caricatures of gun-owners that tend to dominate the popular media. Kohn's concluding suggestions about ways both sides of the debate can advance beyond "good guy"/"bad guy" stereotypes are constructive, level-headed, and thought-provoking in the best sense of the term. A timely and important contribution to the national conversation about firearms and violence."--Mary Zeiss Stange, author of Woman The Hunter and Gun Women: Firearms And Feminism In Contemporary America


"The first anthropologist to study gun use in America, Abigail Kohn interrogates American gun culture in an even-handed analysis of what guns mean to Americans. Building on a study of gun enthusiasts, she explores the attraction of guns and examines the attitudes and approaches Americans take toward guns. This incisive, thoughtful work is a major contribution to Americas gun debate. It lays out the issues in a direct, easily accessible way. Shooters should be required reading for anyone concerned about guns, regardless of where they stand."--Gay Becker, author of Disrupted Lives and The Elusive Embryo


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9780195306446: Shooters: Myths and Realities of America's Gun Cultures

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