A longtime critic of American gun culture aims again at targets he holds responsible for the carnage.
Diaz (Making a Killing: The Business of Guns in America, 1999, etc.) pushed for responsible gun control legislation and regulation while employed at the Violence Policy Center in Washington, D.C. This new book, obviously timely in the wake of recent mass murders around the country, updates and expands his advocacy. In the first three chapters, the author documents the extraordinary level of gun violence in the United States compared to other nations and explains the impact of such violence on individuals and families, cities and rural areas, states and the entire democratic experience. Then, Diaz focuses on gun manufacturers and policy lobbyists, especially the National Rifle Association, that, in Diaz's view, are more concerned with their profit-and-loss statements than with the emotional losses suffered when guns kill or maim. The author attempts to prove that the NRA and its allies are not too powerful to resist successfully in the institutions that have previously enabled them, from state legislatures and Congress to the White House and the courts. Although Diaz is an advocate, he is not shrill; he gathers evidence through careful reporting and marshals his arguments well. Many of the case studies are horrifying and instructive but little known, in part because local media coverage is rarely picked up outside its tight geographic radius. Diaz is on firm ground when he claims that gun violence is actually underreported in the United States, which makes the incidents in the headlines all the more frightening. His suggested reforms, while not original, are well-presented at a time when similar proposals are being debated in state legislatures and Congress.
May not alter opinions among true believers on either side of the gun control debate but will hopefully influence the thinking of people with open minds.