I recently found myself in a gun control debate on co.general. Wishing to back myself up with facts, I started to delve into the books and journals dedicated to this only-slightly-less-hot-than-abortion debate. Josh Sugarmann’s book isn’t exactly useful as a debate tool for either side of the gun control debate, because he’s as damning of the organized gun control organizations as he is of the NRA and the gun lobby (which Sugarmann shows to be virtually synonymous). Sugarmann, who himself is a gun control advocate with the Violence Policy Center, thinks that “the truth lies somewhere in the middle” of the debate, and that the average American should beware of the fanatics on both sides who misuse and misconstrue the evidence of violence in our society for their own agendas. He does this by giving us the history of the National Rifle Association, which is also the history of gun control in America, and shows how the organization has shifted over the years from a sporting idea to “Second Amendment fundamentalism” that characterizes it today. Along the way he visits the topics of whether or not the Second Amendment does indeed guarantee the right for an individual to bear arms, what the real problem of firearms in society is, and the lies told by both the NRA and Handgun Control, Inc. Sugarmann’s book is easily read, and damn near necessary reading for anyone who is a member of the NRA. However, I fear that any true “Second Amendment fundamentalist” will be put off by Sugarmann’s book, because he often doesn’t provide the necessary references for his supposedly objective statements of statistics. Which is too bad, because his book has the potential of getting at the truth in the middle.

[Finished 16 May 1993]


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