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THE TRIGGER by Daniel J. Patinkin


Narratives of the American Shooter

by Daniel J. Patinkin

Pub Date: July 3rd, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-62872-919-1
Publisher: Arcade

A curious exercise in the annals of gun violence, highlighting the life stories of six who turned to the gun for a solution.

When he conceived of this project, writes Chicago-based businessman and educator Patinkin (co-author: The Crippler, 2016), he wanted to “investigate unfamiliar life stories and thereby illuminate complicated social and cultural dynamics.” He has partially succeeded in doing so, having turned up widely diverse stories ranging from a drug dealer to a calculating murderer to police officers who have killed in the pursuit of their work. There are not many commonalities apart from the fact that it is too easy to procure and use a gun in America—especially at moments when one is at the end of his or her tether. Early on Patinkin writes that this is not a sociological or political treatise, and that is surely the case; in most instances the shooter talks, and Patinkin constructs a narrative around it: “They talked about crazy Darryl and how Lester’s gunshot must have scared the shit out of that cracker. It definitely was a weird situation”; “To solve all of his problems, and to collect the entirety of the life insurance benefit, he would have to murder not just his father, but his entire family”; “This internal inquisition played out for seconds that seemed like hours while Al kept his Sig Sauer 9mm leveled.” Patinkin does layer the stories he has collected with observations on larger themes. For example, he takes a brief look at the Black Lives Matter movement in connection with his account of an officer-involved shooting. But in the absence of more thoroughgoing analysis, the social and cultural dynamics go essentially unexplored, limiting the value of this book to a set of testimonials from which one might frame an argument for, or even against, enhanced gun control.

Anecdotal more than analytical but of some interest to students of crime and punishment.