Tuesday, March 05, 2013
I usually don't review books that I blurb-- but if you have any strong views on guns, on either side, take a look at Dan Baum's Gun Guys . There are several reasons to (on top of its being a fine piece of reporting and a good read): first, genuinely pro- gun books by unabashed liberals are unusual; second, who is more likely to persuade fence- sitters we gunners are human--an NRA life member or an unlikely Jewish liberal from (Yikes!) BOULDER-- a person who obviously had to think out of his "box"?? And before you jump, I have been in the NRA for thirty years. I know that I often avoid the subject unless pushed, and Baum's work makes it easier to be pro- gun and have non- gunners listen.
OK, my blurb: "“You don't have to agree with Dan Baum on everything; perhaps a gun-loving self-described liberal Democrat from Boulder is so unique nobody will. But he has written the most original book on the gun culture yet, fair, funny, and as informed as it is iconoclastic. I urge all my friends, both those in the NRA and those who think guns are evil, to read, learn, laugh, and recognize themselves. Gun Guys is an unlikely bridge for our too-polarized time.”
I am known for being odd. I might add that his other "blurbers" are Masssad Ayoob, today's most- read defense and handgun guru, as well as an ex - cop and a respected teacher, gun writer, and expert witness; and Ian Frazier, New Yorker writer and author of among other good things Great Plains and In Siberia, who I believe now lives in Brooklyn though he has lived in Montana. Pretty strong three- legged stool-- I am pleased to be in the company of two very different writers I enjoy.
And one more thing: Baum got a rather grumpy review in the Wall Street Journal this AM, and I think it was unfair. While its author admitted the good aspects of the book, he seemed riled that Baum admitted to any internal conflicts, and that he portrayed some rather odd folks as well as admirable ones. Get off your pedestal! Baum did not interview or describe a single lunatic or jerk, just some eccentrics and a lot of good people; Libby, who has been among mad gunnies now for at least 20 years, and is as pro Second amendment as one can be, says it is the truest and funniest portrait of the gun culture she has ever read. Does the reviewer seriously think the ranks of the pro- gun contain no nuts or freaks? I know more of them than Baum portrays; I even like some! But pretending we are all perfect won't fool anybody, and every character in Gun Guys is a portrait, not a caricature. I'd give it to a literate anti in a second, and expect them to come away knowing that in the political definition of the term that there is NO SUCH THING as an "assault rifle". Next question?
The reviewer also thinks that Baum is lukewarm, but I defy him to find a single suggestion in favor of anti- gun legislation in this book. What Baum does ask for is our internal pressure on fools and unsafe practices- the force of culture, manners, the value of shaming-- another matter entirely, and one I support, as do such sites as The Truth About Guns. Might I tease the author by saying such suggestions and beliefs are thoroughly "conservative"?