Saturday, April 29, 2017

A One-Star Review and Guns

Like other writers, I loathe one-star reviews. I hate to get them, and if there’s a book that I didn’t like I’d rather ignore it and spend my time writing a review of a book that I did enjoy. But I was compelled to write a one-star review on a particular book because it exploits my favorite genre--crime fiction--as a soapbox to promote a political agenda that I disagree with. The book, Unloaded: Crime Writers Writing Without Guns, is an anthology edited by Eric Beetner who uses the book as a platform for his pious grandstanding as a shill for the anti-gun lobby. Read my review here.

No doubt, you’re going to ask, “Mario, what is it about you and guns?”

To begin, I’ve always liked guns. When I was four, my mother asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I told her I wanted a machine gun. Part of the reason I joined the army was that I’d have the opportunity to shoot all kinds of guns. Once I even got to shoot a vintage automatic rifle reportedly used by the police when they ambushed Bonnie and Clyde. Macabre for sure, but if you write crime novels, supremely cool.

Then on September 5, 1985, my father committed suicide with his pistol. It was a day of enormous tragedies, heartache, and shame. I associated guns with those horrific events and my reaction to the pain and grief was to get rid of the few guns that I owned. My attitude was that I didn’t need guns, and neither did anyone else. So for the next twenty-five-plus years I was ambivalent to owning guns.

Then recently I read Woe To Live On by Daniel Woodrell and Empire of the Summer Moon by S.G. Gywnne.


In both books, the early black powder revolvers were central to the action. I became fascinated with these guns to the point that I decided to buy one. When I mentioned this to a writer friend, he told me that if I owned a gun my chances of being killed by it would be 2.7 times more than if I had no gun. The statistic shocked me. Why would I do such a risky thing? I decided to investigate his claim and that led me to dive headfirst into this debate about guns in America.

I learned that statistic came from a study (long since discredited) headed by Dr. Arthur Kellerman, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control. His study was part of CDC’s quest--not to find the truth or promote public safety--but to cook the evidence in support of abolishing guns. “We’re going to systematically build a case that owning firearms causes deaths.” And “…a long term campaign… to convince Americans that guns are, first and foremost, a public health menace.” However skeptical you might be that the CDC willingly compromises its ethics you only need look at their history with the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment.

The anti-gun lobby, in league with the American medical establishment, likes to preach about the dangers of owning a gun but when you look at the numbers reported by the CDC, for 2015 Accidental Fatalities, you have: Firearms 489; Pedestrian 959; Drowning 3602; Falls 33,381; Automobile 36,161; Poisoning 47,478 (of which half are prescription opioids, i.e., provided by the medical community). Considering that in this country there are as many gun owners as there are car drivers, Americans as gun owners are much safer than Americans as car drivers. And accidental firearms deaths continue to decline (in 2005 it was 789, in 2010 it was 606), and so you think the anti-gun crowd would cheer that trend but they don’t even mention it.

The Epidemic of Gun Violence! Now that sounds super scary. The big numbers that make up “gun violence” are gun homicide and gun suicide, and those numbers are subsets of the much larger totals of violent crime and all suicides. Interesting how no politician or bureaucrat ever says we have an epidemic of violent crime or an epidemic of suicide. By using the term gun violence, the apparatchiks can blame gun owners--people like me--while washing their hands of the hard work needed to stop violent crime (domestic violence, robbery, gang violence, and drug trafficking) and suicide (depression and substance abuse). To me, suicide is especially troubling since we live in a land of promise and plenty, and yet as our material standard-of-living continues to rise, so do our suicides.

If we are truly committed to solving violent crime and suicide, then we must devote the necessary resources and be diligent and honest in grappling with some tough social issues. The solution will not be a policy based on fraudulent agendas, misdirection, and lies.


Catherine Dilts said...

Nicely stated. I read a book where hunters were ignorant redneck drunks to a man. No women hunters apparently. I will never read that author's work again. Stereotypes and political talking points are lazy writing.

ssas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ssas said...

One reason I'm annoyed with the NRA (and some gun-nuts) is because their lobbying so overshadows all the actual good work they do (like supporting kids and adults learning how to shoot and firearm safety, and helping veterans). I could blame the press (and I do, partly) but also the NRA never discusses its good work (it's buried on the website) and instead it just goes political all the time (and in ways I completely disagree with). Your last paragraph says it all: this is not a simple issue and treating it like one helps nothing.

Plus stereotypes and agendas make for really lazy, boring writing.

Mario Acevedo said...


Yeah, the NRA is unloved by many in the gun community. And they could do a better job as you said.
Thanks for posting.