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Lethal Logic: Exploding the Myths That Paralyze American Gun Policy [Hardcover]

Dennis A. Henigan
2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 2009 1597973564 978-1597973564 1St Edition
“Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.”

“When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”

“An armed society is a polite society.”

Who hasn’t heard these engaging assertions, time and time again? Burned into the national consciousness by years of targeted, disciplined messaging by the National Rifle Association and others, they are just a few of the bumper-sticker slogans that have defined the gun control debate in America. Long ridiculed by gun control advocates, they are the first words that come to mind for most Americans when the gun issue is discussed.

This is the first book both to acknowledge the profound and deadly impact of the gun lobby’s bumper-sticker logic on the gun control debate and to systematically expose the misguided thinking at the core of the pro-gun slogans. Indeed, the author contends that the gun lobby’s remarkable success in blocking passage of lifesaving gun laws is the result, in large part, of its relentless and effective use of these simple and resonant messages. Their persuasive power has been a largely ignored influence on the current politics of gun control, in which the gun lobby wields unprecedented power in the Republican Party, while many Democratic Party leaders see the policy benefits of stronger gun laws as not worth the political risk of standing up to the NRA. The book contends that the current political stalemate over guns will never be broken until the pro-gun slogans are exposed as the cleverly disguised fallacies that they are.

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Editorial Reviews


“[A]n outstanding survey recommended for any college-level or public library strong in social and legal issues."

“Of all the people who work for gun control organizations, Henigan is probably the most influential thinker. It was he who cooked up the batch of 1998-99 lawsuits by anti-gun mayors and trial lawyers against firearm manufacturers, wholesalers, stores, and trade associations. Ultimately, the suits failed to cripple the firearm industry, but they came close. Henigan is much more prescient than some of the other ‘intellectuals’ at gun control organizations in recognizing when a particular position has become untenable and needs to be abandoned. . . . Lethal Logic, although not an official book of the Brady Campaign, presents what will likely be the key talking points for gun control advocates and their media allies in the coming months and years.”

"Anyone interested in the intersection of culture, psychology, and commerce can find valuable lessons in Lethal Logic. . . Henigan's insights into the marketing genius of the firearm industry are truly eye-opening. . . . Whatever your views on guns, their relationship to crime, and the meaning of the Second Amendment, Lethal Logic has something important to teach: A consistent, passionate message cultivates customer loyalty."

"Henigan effectively disarms the gun lobby's arguments, fighting back with equal doses of common sense and uncommon insight. Lethal Logic will make it much tougher for spineless politicians in both parties to hide behind the NRA's superficial slogans and rationality-defying spin. A must-read for every American who longs to bring sanity to our nation's gun laws."

"No one knows more about our epidemic of gun violence and no one can state the case for sanity better than Dennis Henigan, who eviscerates the Orwellian myths through which the NRA justifies so much death. Henigan exposes how the gun lobby controlled one political party and intimidated the other. Lethal Logic is a bracing look at some very hard truths."

“Dennis Henigan has long been one of the nation’s leading thinkers on the gun violence issue. In Lethal Logic, he has given us a clear roadmap toward destruction of the ‘any gun, any time, any place’ arguments of the gun lobby. This book will save lives.”

"Dennis Henigan has set out an insightful examination of the NRA's impact on the nation's gun debate. Lethal Logic offers a clear and thoughtful explanation of the methods and tactics used by the NRA to block common-sense gun laws and their effect on the political process."

About the Author

Dennis A. Henigan is the Vice President for Law and Policy at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and Founder of its Legal Action Project. For twenty years, he has been a leading advocate for stronger gun laws, appearing dozens of times on national television shows, including 60 Minutes, The Today Show, Nightline, Larry King Live, and Dateline NBC. Henigan coauthored Guns and the Constitution: The Myth of Second Amendment Protection for Firearms in America (Aletheia Press, 1995).

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 282 pages
  • Publisher: Potomac Books Inc.; 1St Edition edition (June 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597973564
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597973564
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 6.2 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,389,167 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very effective December 31, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Very effective in exposing the various falsehoods spread in opposition to gun control as well as arguing the case for gun control. The facts are all in this book though the opposition to gun control is largely ideological rather than fact based.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Directly addresses NRA talking points February 18, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Clear, concise, research-based arguments for gun control while directly refuting NRA arguments. This book is a excellent addition to the national discussion.
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114 of 180 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pot Calling the Kettle Black June 25, 2009
By EvoSci
The problem with this book is that it isn't so much about research into real facts about gun control and its effectiveness (or lack thereof), it's simply an attack on a political strategy of using slogans to mobilize a political base. Which is funny, because all this book itself is, is a vacuous piece of political propaganda.

The author tries to convince the reader that these slogans are all the gun rights supporters have. But this isn't even remotely true. Even the American Academy of Sciences and the CDC, after comprehensive reviews of all research on the subject, came to the conclusion that there is no convincing research to support the premise that gun control reduces crime or violence. Comparative studies between the US, the UK, and Australia indicate that gun control may actually increase violent crime (there is a very strong correlation, at least). Even the Clinton Administration's own studies of their "Assault Weapons Ban" concluded that the law did absolutely nothing to reduce violence in the US. One of the other reviewers mentioned "scare tactics". But another thing the author doesn't address is that, while gun control laws have generally been loosened in the US over the last 20 years (especially in allowing private citizens to carry concealed weapons - 48 states now allow it, with 2 not even requiring a permit), violent crime overall, and gun crime specifically, have consistently dropped over the same period. So the gun control supporters who cry out about escalating gun violence (which is a lie in itself) are really the ones using scare tactics.

And yet he doesn't address any of this. Instead he sets up a straw man of a gun rights movement that has none of this factual evidence to support it, and which depends strictly on catchy slogans.
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72 of 116 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The only civil right tha's fashionable to assault June 30, 2009
If we had authors asserting that religion and politics have killed more people than almost anything else over the course of history (which they have), and that we should therefore restrict religious or political beliefs, you'd hear a massive outcry. If an author pointed out that speech is just as dangerous as any weapon and should be restricted by government, the ACLU would be storming the barricades in defense of that civil right. But move one amendment away, and it's trendy to try and strip all people of a civil right because of what some bad people do, even though that right also helps to defend the good people against the bad.

Henigan has for years asserted that law abiding citizens shouldn't be allowed to arm themselves. He has relentlessly pursued stripping individuals of this civil right, through every avenue from public propaganda to civil litigation to legislation, all the while reasserting the Brady Campaign's failed policies. This book is just more of the same; save yourself the money and just visit the Brady Campaign's website if you want to be indoctrinated. The irony is that the sloganeering and propaganda that Henigan rails against are the same tactics that the Brady Campaign has used for over a decade.
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30 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Attempting to open the eyes of the blinded February 22, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book contains enough facts backed with sources and data to help anyone to understand a large part of why our fine country leads the world in death and injury from gun violence. History and facts support a bumper sticker: "The NRA promotes the death and injury of thousands of children a year." The main reason for the NRA to use their powerful muscle to block any and all registration of fire arms and cartriges is a paranoid and false fear that it will lead to the loss of owning their legal guns. Gun owners now have a clear "constitutional" right to own guns for self defense. So, what keeps the NRA from supporting laws that will reduce gun ownership by criminals and the mentally ill? Dennis Henigan provides some reasonable answers if you have eyes to see and a rational mind.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No a ban, just common sense November 14, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The unfortunate fact is that people think "gun control" and "gun ban" are the same thing. This book puts emphasis on regulation, not outright bans. It shows flaws in current policies that allow the "bad guys" to easily acquire guns, and shows what could be done to fix those loopholes while respecting lawful owners' rights.
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6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By Derek F
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Dennis Henigan explains chapter by chapter how slogans often used by the gun toting community are false and often counter-productive to creating a safer nation. These claims include "Guns don't kill people. People kill people." and "An armed society is a polite society." as well as others. Henigan is staunchly anti-gun. This is no surprise seeing as how he is vice president for law and policy at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. I went into the book with an open mind but almost immediately found myself taking everything Henigan argued with a grain of salt. Henigan provides sources for his data but many of his sources come from very slanted sources. I sought to find the truth behind his claims and did much of my own research. I found many of his arguments to be misleading, drawing conclusions from facts that had little to do with the subject matter. The causality of many of his figures on guns and violence is questionable at best. Many of Henigan's claims, however, I found to be inaccurate, spun, or entirely false. From statistical errors occurring in the first sentence (claiming 70% of Americans support a ban on assault weapons, when in reality it is only 50% [Gallup,2009]) to misguided comparisons, Henigan goes to great lengths to use rhetoric in order to push a gun control agenda. Henigan notes that the Brady Act could be used to reduce the "gun show loophole", that is, that private dealers at gun shows do not require background checks as they are considered private sales. Henigan fails to note, however, that only 0.7% of convicts obtained their guns from gun shows, an almost negligible figure.

Overall, a well put together book with lots of information, but it definitely falls short of qualifying as a reference for guns and violence in America.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Communism democratic rhetoric
If you really want us to give up our guns .Its not long till we end up a communism country .How did that work out for Russia .
Published 18 months ago by Don Hull
1.0 out of 5 stars Faulty Logic and Lazy Thinking.
The author takes the premise that denying all citizens the right to buy, own, and use guns is justified if it could have prevented isolated massacres and other criminal activity... Read more
Published on February 2, 2012 by Michael K. O'connor
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth the paper it was printed on
The book is worthless unless your using it as a target or as something to start a fire. Don't waste your money on this book with its faulty information.
Published on December 13, 2011 by xtremedays
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Side of The Coin
One of the few books I did not get from Amazon but thought I'd put my two cents in. Just finished this book and I thought is was very good reading. Read more
Published on May 28, 2011 by InfoSeeker
5.0 out of 5 stars Question the Negative Reviews
If you look at the distribution of reviews, you will find (not surprisingly) that most people either love this book or hate it, and again (not surprisingly), that more hate it than... Read more
Published on April 8, 2011 by D.A. Kelly
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read for all
This book is surprisingly thorough for its size. In each chapter, Dennis Henigan states one of the familiar pro-gun slogans and clearly elucidates its logical flaws. Read more
Published on February 1, 2011 by Todd
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your money
This book is truly one of the worst I've read. Completely full of mis=leading half truths and out right lies. Take a past and save your money
Published on January 18, 2011 by Uncle Charlie
1.0 out of 5 stars Biased, dishonest, poorly written
This is a poorly written dishonest book that tries to twist the facts to meet the anti-gun author's imagination. Read more
Published on April 8, 2010 by James May
5.0 out of 5 stars Lethal Logic
This is an excellent book for anyone who wants to know how to take on the gun lobby's over-used and abused myths. Henigan's Lethal Logic is thorough and well reasoned.
Published on April 7, 2010 by M. Ester
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