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Reading List March 27, 2019

The United States Doesn’t Have a Gun Problem

Our problem is that we keep producing killers.

Firearms, once again, have dominated this week’s news cycle. In New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern issued a swift ban on semi-automatic and automatic weapons after a white supremacist killed 50 Muslim worshipers. In Indiana, several teachers were injured by Airsoft guns during an active shooter training that the sheriff’s department defended as “realistic.”

But is the heart of the gun debate as simple as all guns are bad? The essays in today’s reading list ponder this question and more, from one Ohio teacher’s uncomfortable firearms training (which gives context to the Indiana incident) to Judith Levine’s argument that any gun control movement must also advocate for disarming police. 

But first, Walter Johnson’s sensitive exploration of the psychology behind shooting and his assertion that “the cause of the United States’s problem with guns is not guns, it is the United States.”

—Rosie Gillies


Guns in the Family
by Walter Johnson

“The day I shot and killed a deer is the only time my father hugged mebetween the age of five or six and when I went away to graduate school.”

• • •

The “Active Shooter” Is the State
by Judith Levine

“Moving from liberal gun reform to a truly radical movement will require articulating the connection between interpersonal violence and official, ‘licit’ violence.”

• • •

Members of the 436th Security Forces Squadron clear rooms during an active shooter exercise Feb. 26, 2018, at the George S. Welch Elementary School and Dover Air Force Base Middle School on Dover AFB, Del. Security Forces has developed a strong relationship with local and state police departments by hosting joint exercises where all units benefit. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zoe M. Wockenfuss)

Teachers with Guns
by Thomas Baxter

What happens when a school district votes to arm teachers? A Rust Belt educator takes us through the grim realities of training to kill one of his own students.

• • •

Strapped: My Eight Years with a Gun
by Hal Stucker

“While gun rights organizations are quick to trumpet anecdotal stories of gun owners who’ve successfully used a handgun to defend themselves or stop a crime, those numbers pale alongside the number of gun deaths.”

• • •

Founding Firearms: Originalism and the Second Amendment
by Pamela S. Karlan

Modern practice has shaped the Court’s understanding of which “Arms” the Amendment protects: handguns are protected, but sawed-off shotguns and military-grade weapons such as machine guns are not.”

• • •

Campus Gun Control Works
by Evan DeFilippis

The average college student hardly fits the profile of a ‘good guy with a gun’ advanced by gun advocates: the combination of alcohol abuse and firearms increases the potential for serious violence.”

• • •

A Political Philosophy of Self-Defense
by Chad Kautzer

Self-defensive violence can transform self-understandings and community relations; it can be insurrectionary; and it must be understood against a background of structural violence.”

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