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Let It Bang

A Young Black Man’s Reluctant Odyssey into Guns
By: RJ Young
Narrated by: RJ Young
Length: 4 hrs and 17 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (27 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The most RJ Young knew about guns was that they could get him killed. Until, recently married to a white woman and in desperate need of a way to relate to his gun-loving father-in-law, Charles, Young does the unimaginable: He accepts Charles's gift of a Glock.

Despite, or because of, the racial rage and fear he experiences among white gun owners ("Ain't you supposed to be shooting a basketball?"), Young determines to get good, really good, with a gun. Let It Bang is the compelling story of the author's unexpected obsession - he eventually becomes an NRA-certified pistol instructor - and of his deep dive into the heart of America's gun culture: what he sees as the domino effect of white fear, white violence, black fear, rinse, repeat. 

Young's original reporting on shadow industries like US Law Shield, which insures and defends people who report having shot someone in self-defense, and on the newly formed National African American Gun Association, gives powerful insight into the dynamic. Through indelible profiles, Young brings us up to the current rocketing rise in gun ownership among black Americans, most notably women.

©2018 RJ Young (P)2018 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

What members say

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A reluctant Odyssey of facts vs. feelings.

The facts that were presented are indeed true. The authors confusion stems from an inability to differentiate facts from feelings. His story is his story. How can I express my feelings for someone who is not even willing to stand up for their own life and does this with false Pride.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Interesting, heartfelt, but somewhat unbalanced

This book is about race and politics at least as much as it is about guns. It is a very personal tale and I found it very interesting.

By the author's account, his marriage ended following Trump's election soon after he said that he hates white people. He recounts very many personal stories of being mistreated by white people and clearly resents those experiences, and I don't see why he shouldn't. The author deserves to be treated as an individual person, not a black man, but so too do the people he collectively announced hate for.

The author describes getting intensely interested in guns, pursuing marksmanship training and becoming a certified instructor, then abandoning the pursuit. The author gives several accounts of innocent black men being killed by police and others with guns. The author goes into detail on the statistics of crime and gun ownership by ethnicity.

The author argues against using firearms for self defense and supports this with two stories of what he feels were unjustified uses of firearms in self defense. I agreed with him more than I disagreed, but clearly justified uses are not addressed. He describes people that concealed carry as vigilantes out to murder someone. He doesn't seem to allow for life circumstances and experiences to lead one to come to the conclusion that a firearm might some day be necessary to defend one's life. I am not giving the score that I am because I disagree with the author, but in part because there is little exploration of self defense where without the use of a firearm, a victim would have been killed. The author seems to believe that he would rather be a victim than defend himself in that case. I'd like to know why the author feels that way.

I can't critique the author for letting his race dominate so much of his life and thinking because I do not have his experiences, where the color of his skin matters or is noticed by probably nearly everyone he interacts with. But I think it is a damn shame that he let that and politics consume him to the degree that it ended his marriage. I feel sympathy for the author as a divorced and left-leaning person myself for the pain that this has brought him, even if I can't understand first-hand the anger and bitterness over being treated differently and often poorly because of the color of his skin.

I hope that the author can one day come to understand that for most people that legally carry a firearm, using it in defense is one of the last things they want to do, just above becoming a victim, possibly a dead or seriously injured one, of someone that chose to do them harm. The author doesn't seem to consider that fact, that some people are evil and care less for a person's life than the $20 their victim has in their pocket. Very few people are out there just itching to use a gun.

I think it is fantastic that the author took this journey, and as a white person, I hope that many more people of different ethnicities take this journey. I hope that many more get training and arm themselves for defense, because gun control has a racist history and I can't think of anything that will better protect people like the author that are an ethnic minority from becoming the victims of a reprehensible, racist act of violence.

It was a thought-provoking account to be certain, but I wish that the author considered more possibilities and explored more viewpoints, as open-minded as the author's account is.

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Amazing story

This was an amazing story and every minute worthy of praise.
As a gun owner and a POC it has showed me the work I need to do to fight for positive change in my community.

✊🏽✊🏽✊🏽

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  • BIGMAC
  • Pittsburgh, PA USA
  • 06-23-19

Honest and well written

It was an easy read. It had a good and straightforward flow. I enjoyed it.

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There need to be more books like this...

This is the book I thought I would write when I finished going a similar path as the author; I'm more grateful to benefit from his experiences than to document my own. This book gives light to issues everyone has opinions on but clearly not everyone has the misfortune of living through. It's not just for the obvious audience, it's for everyone.

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Amazing Human Being!

I think this is one of the best books I've listened to all year. RJ Young narrates the book himself, which is one thing I truly appreciate in an author. Gun control is a hot topic these days and RJ's perspective is unique. I thought it was enthralling to read about his personal journey navigating personalities and skills to come to the life decisions he's made. I know that we will likely never see true change in the way we regulate or live with guns in the United States, but RJ's thoughts resonate with me. I am a while man and while I'll never completely understand what it means to be a black man in the U.S. or the world, even, I strive every day to empathize with my fellow human beings to try to become an example of what it takes to truly achieve equality. I wish everyone could read this book to understand what RJ is trying to illustrate for the rest of us. Humanity needs to evolve; we need to move past the color of our skin and truly embrace each other as the SAME race on this tiny rock in the universe. Thanks for sharing your story RJ!

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  • Pete
  • Oklahoma City, Ok, US
  • 11-05-18

A personal story

I began following RJ on YouTube and learned about his book from there. His story is personal and sometimes uncomfortable to hear not because of what is written but because of what it made me think about myself. I was and am still intrigued by his story. I am still processing how I feel. I don't have the luxury of a common background with RJ to relate to. What I do have is the ability to appreciate any book that makes me examine my own life and what surrounds me. RJ's book tells his truth and in listening I learned a bit more about myself.

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Everyone must read!

Thank you for writing this book! Honest, refreshing book every American should read. Loved listening! RJ has a great voice to listen too.