Get our latest essays, archival selections, reading lists, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
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.”
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.”
• • •
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.”
Vital reading on politics, literature, and more in your inbox. Sign up for our Weekly Newsletter, Monthly Roundup, and event notifications.
Support us with a donation this giving season.
Robin D. G. Kelley on the midterm elections.
What we have achieved this year—and our plans for 2023.