In a pulls-no-punches essay intended to provoke rational discussion, Stephen King sets down his thoughts about gun violence in America. Anger and grief in the wake of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School are palpable in this urgent piece of writing, but no less remarkable are King's keen thoughtfulness and composure as he explores the contours of the gun-control issue and constructs his argument for what can and should be done.
King's earnings from the sale of this essay will go to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
Stephen King is the author of 11/22/63, Under the Dome, Carrie, The Shining, and many other best-selling works.
"The overwhelming response from readers of the Kindle Single edition of Guns underscores the great need for thoughtful discourse on the issue of guns in America…I’m thrilled Audible is bringing Guns to the quickly growing audience of audiobook listeners." (Stephen King)
©2013 Stephen King (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
"There are a handful of subjects in America so emotional and polarizing that the national dialogue around them amounts to little more than a shouting match. Chief among these is the subject of guns. In this intimate and moving Kindle Single, Stephen King employs all his gifts as writer and citizen to address gun violence in America. But why should we care what Stephen King has to say? As it turns out, there are a number of reasons. Despite his "liberal creds," King is an unapologetic gun owner himself. He is also the author of a novel--published under the pseudonym Richard Bachman--that has served as a "possible accelerant" for at least four real-life high school shooters. King had his publisher take that book off the market long ago, but the guns and the occasional bursts of unfathomable violence remain. When division is everywhere, is it possible for someone to argue passionately for the middle road? That is what King seeks to do here--this is a frank and thoughtful contribution to a dialogue in dire need of voices from the 'all-but-deserted middle.'" (Chris Schluep, Amazon.com)
I was surprised to hear of Stephen Kings publication of "Rage" and then to find that it had some influence in multiple shootings afterward. I applaud him for pulling it from publication because of this.
First, I should say I am a centrist, one of the meager minority in our country according to King, and I would advocate for some forms of gun control myself, though King doesn't include many ideas that might actually help our gun problems, with the exception of background checks. In summary, he advocates limiting magazine capacity to 10, banning assault weapons, and comprehensive background checks. The background check is a no brainer, and no thoughtful person can make a case against that one. However, the term 'assault weapon' doesn't have a specific meaning. People include such things as flash suppressors and barrel shrouds, pistol grips, collapsable stocks, etc. None of these will have any effect on casualties in a mass shooting situation. The Clinton gun ban was also vague in it's definition, stating: "In general, assault weapons are semiautomatic firearms with a large magazine of ammunition that were designed and configured for rapid fire and combat use." Before we proclaim that we should 'ban assault weapons' we need to clearly define what that means. For most people it is a catchy term and sounds like something that should be banned, and it seems King is in that group. Next, limiting magazine capacities to 10. He presents no evidence at all that this ban will be effective. What is the point of banning something (relinquishing our freedom) if it won't have any effect. First, there are literally millions upon millions of magazines already existing in the US. Is the government going to grandfather them, or confiscate them? If they confiscate them, do we actually think the criminals will hand theirs over? Or that they won't be able to smuggle new ones in? Outlawing drugs has been real effective at keeping those off the streets... Also, in the age of 3D printers, a magazine is simply a piece of plastic and a spring that holds bullets. You could very easily print your own. Finally, he claims that the australia gun laws have been a success. In fact, the conclusions drawn by the vast majority of people looking at the issue, including snopes and factcheck, 15+ years after the ban went into effect, that there is no measurable difference in murders or gun violence. Great Britain's statistics after it's gun ban are similar. Oh, and one more thing, if you'll pardon the rant. He asserts that nobody wants to take your revolver, your hunting rifle, your sporting guns, etc, and seems to think that anybody who thinks otherwise is a crazy, paranoid idiot. I beg to differ. They tried to ban guns in Chicago and Washington DC, and that included all of them. When it finally went to the Supreme court, in spite of the fact that we have a second amendment and the court is supposed to uphold the constitution, these banning laws were voted unconstitutional by a vote of 5-4. That's right, if one of those 5 justices had voted the other way, then guns would be banned in 2 cities, and the precedent would have been set that politicians had the power to ban guns in defined areas. Are we honestly to believe that it would have remained only in Chicago and DC? No, I assert very strongly that we, pardon the pun, dodged a bullet on that supreme court decision, and that there are plenty of people out there who would love to take away our guns...and will continue to try.
Everyone in this country needs to read or listen to this essay. Whether they agree or not, it's so full of information and reason that it forms a necessary jumping off point for debate and communal understanding.
Always moving. Always listening. Always learning. "After all this time?" "Always."
It seems important to mention one's "creds" in writing reviews of Stephen King's "Guns" so I will start with mine: I served in the US Army, and was honorably discharged as a SGT/E-5. I qualified Expert with an M16 (the civilian equivalent is an AR15), and I'm still proud of that.
I also have a copy of "Rage", in the compilation of "The Bachman Books" that I purchased the year it was published, 1985. I remember reading "The Bachan Books" the same week I purchased it. I loved "The Running Man" and liked "Roadwork", and while the plot of "Rage" was intriguing, the writing was so sophomoric, it was painful. I found out later King wrote "Rage" while he was in high school, so there was an explanation. I read "Rage" once again, in 1996, when I heard Michael Carneal shot classmates in West Paducah, Kentucky. It sounded so much like the story I'd read 11 years earlier, I wanted to make sure I wasn't imagining the similarity. I wasn't.
King's essay "Guns" starts with a scathing social commentary, "That's How it Shakes Out." It doesn't matter if the first station you've got programmed into your remote is FoxNEWS and Ann Coulter is your dream date, or if you are so far left you contribute frequently to KPFK: the media cycle for mass shootings is the same.
King argues forcefully - and sometimes vulgarly - for gun control. King is a gun owner himself, and does not want to disarm the country - but he does want assault weapons banned, and large magazines banned; and he wants background checks.
What King argues isn't new or innovative, but the writing is vintage King. There are phrases I remember from "The Shawshank Redemption" (the movie adaptation, not the original novella "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption") and the unabridged edition of "The Stand." There's also a theme in the first and last section of "Guns" that runs through "The Library Policeman" and "The Ten O'Clock People." The theme was chilling in the stories, and the probability it's a reality is startling.
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I am undecided on this issue however I was disappointed with my favorite story teller's attempt to cobble together a cogent argument. For someone that can easily move between horror, fantasy, and baseball, his efforts fell short given his capabilities. Very disappointed.
First chapter . . . Shakedown, had merits.
Writer, Reader, Former Bookseller (RIP Borders)
Not what you would expect, given the source. It's actually the most balanced and reasonable argument I've heard amidst the current fervor. Direct, but not preachy. Definitely worth 45 minutes and whatever the token cost.
I am a 30 year old over-the-road truck driver. I listen to A LOT of audiobooks!
I have to say that objectively, I enjoyed this short listen. And I do respect Stephen King as a fellow gun owner, but I disagree with his politics, as mentioned in the book. I did enjoy how he correctly portrayed the media as ratings-hungry and immorally uncaring.
It was a surprise how "fair" Stephan King is in "GUNS". Although I do not agree with all he says, he is sympathic with gun owners.
Christian was very believeable and interesting.
I would reccommend it to gun owners as well as non owners.
This was presented as an unbiased opinion on this issue. You pay to be yelled at, called names and abused by this author. I have many of his books in my library and absolutely love most of them. This is not an unbiased discussion.
Yes, the narrator did a very good job.
It did have a few good points before he started acting angry about people who disagree with his opinions.
Why does everyone that has access to the media feel they are an authority on politics. Is there anyone that can have a discussion or express their opinion without getting angry with people who do not share their view?
Big Stephen King fan.
Yes and No, It tends to reiterate many of the tired old arguments from both sides, bringing both sides towards the middle but not introducing anything new to the debate which is very useful for those of us not paying attention, but for those of us who do, not very stimulating.
The performance of the narrator was very passionate which kept your ear and made the listen very enjoyable.
The short nature of it made it a good listen while I did some quick house chores.
The author does a good job of bringing the far right/left wings more towards the center, and surprisingly I agree with many of his statements. One thing I was disappointed to see was the failure to address one critical problem with gun laws and the 2nd amendment. The primary reason it was put in place was in reaction to the dismal prospects at the start of the revolutionary war. i.e. a public with inferior weaponry subject to rule by the government because they had no realistic prospects of taking on such a well armed government. How they pulled it off was a miracle really. The 2nd amendment is there to ensure the government fears the people, not the other way around.The authors proposal only makes rational sense if you are willing to forgo that position. If you are willing to subject yourself to a law enforcement that can out-gun you any day of the week. Not a problem when everything works right (which for the most part it does and has but there are notable exceptions) but the alternative, I believe, is the exact reason it was put in the constitution.
Yes I definitely would. It's Stephen King for crying out loud.
Indifference would be the best word.
Meh meh meh.
"Sane suggestions, but quite a rant"
Stephen King makes some excellent reasoned arguments for a way forward in the "gun control debate". In brief: controlling automatic weapons, only allowing public possession of 10 rounds, and background checks.
He also examines the mind set of some of the perpetrators - who had often been bullied, or else 'woke up' in disbelief and shock at what they were doing, and the book opens with a minute by minute account of a typical "event".
However, it's an angry essay, which descends at times into a rant of name calling. King openly discloses how some school shootings had copied details from his own published book "Rage", and while he claims to have no regrets over writing the book (which he withdrew from sale), I wondered if some guilt was fuelling his own rage at these atrocities.
"Guns, guns, guns ..."
As a European, I find it incomprehensible as to how the American public can justify allowing weapons to be a part of public life - but they do. Stephen King's take on the topic is honest and interesting. As a gun-owning liberal he manages to see beyond the hyperbole both sides of the battle hurl at each other, while grasping the reality of living in a society which is already drowning in more firearms than any army should ever need. An excellent and thought-provoking listen.
"Guns, S. King"
Left me speechless. Superbly argued by King and passionately read. It should be compulsory listening to all NRA members.
"Guns by Steve King"
Just another reason to love SK. The fact he packs heat and still offers a coherent argument ... Come on folks sort it out for fs.
"One sane American"
Stephen King writes some amazing stories; they're brilliantly executed, he creates a wonderful interwoven universe where fans can delight in discovering the hidden character and locale connections and he imagines the most vulgar, disgusting, cruel, and nightmare inducing horror imaginable. BUT, in this essay he manages to be the ambassador for all that is sane regarding gun laws in the US. He is a human contradiction to the repeated excuse that media violence causes insanity amongst the people who shoot others. In this essay he uses his fame to good avail, making clear, rational points and offering some fresh perspective from someone who has at one point likely been branded a weirdo by those who believe that America's 'Culture of Violence' is the cause of killings. A very interesting piece worthy of your time.
"Almost a full-on rant"
This short audiobook is Stephen King's take on gun culture in the USA.
At times it almost seems like a rant but as you listen you realise that a lot of what he says just happens to be the truth.
The reading is very good and although a difficult (delicate) subject Mr. King handles it really well.
Add to that it's a snip of a price then what do you have to lose.
"Very interesting and surprisingly balanced"
King created a narrative of how he feels about guns, and how he feels about media and guns, and how these two interact in negative (or neutral, or complicated) ways. It was definitely worth the money, and the time. It's short, but I really felt he expressed some of the anti-gun (and pro-gun) arguments in such a way that I appreciated some of the complexity of America's gun culture, which as an outsider had previously looked incomprehensible.
A fresh perspective on the subject of guns in the USA.
As ever this has been written with such craft that even an essay on this emotive subject simply captivates.
"Understanding the dilemma"
It is easy for some of us in the UK to laugh at the madness of 'gun control' in the US, but the situation did not develop over night and King tries to provide some sober insight into the problem. He is a gun owner in a gun owning society that tends to see its constitution as giving them a right to have any weaponry they desire. The country has developed its own neighbourly arms' race! Here in the UK, we can be made afraid thinking about bad people with guns, but, on the whole, prefer to try to remove their guns. In the US, they have bad people with guns AND good people with guns, and like the pigs and humans in 'Animal Farm', it is getting impossible to tell the two apart. King argues for a slow and steady retreat. Good luck to him.
"Worth a listen"
Not that anyone outside America would need convincing that guns kill people, but this piece is still worth a listen. With his approachable, easy style, King makes a few interesting points about the 'culture of violence' the media loves to talk about, and stands behind what president Obama is trying to achieve, without sounding unreasonable (although again- to people who live in countries with decent gun control, the propositions made in the US on how to curb gun violence might seem very mild). A great short listen.
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