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Making a Killing: The Business of Guns in America Paperback – March 1, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: New Press, The (March 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565845676
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565845671
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,556,077 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Author Tom Diaz makes no bones about his animus toward guns: he wants to regulate the U.S. firearms industry to death--literally. Guns are responsible for about 36,000 deaths each year in the United States (more than half are suicides), and so Diaz views them as a public health hazard requiring a massive government intervention. Making a Killing is hardly a dispassionate treatment; Diaz himself is a political activist (and a former Congressional aide). He suggests adopting strategies used against cigarette makers and admires the success antismoking zealots have experienced in their crusade. Much of his treatment focuses on the business of gun making, especially its lightness of regulation and what he considers to be its obsessive secrecy ("The firearms industry is a business so secret that it makes the tobacco industry look like a model of transparency"). He is also appalled that manufacturers make profits from these products and mortified that several leading firearms producers are foreign-owned (is he equally alarmed about who makes most of America's VCRs?). Making a Killing probably won't bring any new soldiers into the antigun camp, but for those already there it is a ready source of information and outrage. --John J. Miller --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From The New England Journal of Medicine

A compelling cry for government regulation.

More About the Author

I was born into a military family and raised largely in the American South, where I learned to shoot in the Boy Scouts and was on a rifle team in high school. I served in the Air National Guard as a small arms specialist and in the Army National Guard as an anti-tank platoon leader. Worked for the Department of Defense (Advanced Research Projects Agency) in Thailand for a while during the Vietnam War. I also served three years as a District of Columbia Police Department reserve officer.

I graduated from the University of Florida (BA Pol. Sci. 1962)(Go Gators!) and Georgetown University Law Center (1972, editor, Law Journal). I've followed a wandering career course, practiced law in and out of government, became a journalist and ended up serving six years as assistant managing editor at the very conservative The Washington Times newspaper in Washington. My guru was the former editor-in-chief Arnaud de Borchgrave, a true professional whose passion was and is journalism and truth, not ideology. I also reported from Central America, Russia, India, Pakistan and the first Gulf War before leaving The Times. I then spent two years at a small think tank in Washington studying terrorism and international organized crime, and from there went to work in 1993 (following the first WTC bombing attack) as a Democratic counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Crime Subcommittee, where I worked on legislation and hearings involving terrorism and firearms.

I currently work part-time at the nonprofit Violence Policy Center in Washington. I sought out this work and center after I was converted from an NRA partisan to a gun control advocate based on what I learned about the predatory American gun industry while serving on "the Hill." The rest of my time I devote to projects involving the study of crime, terrorism, and history.

I used to be a "Scoop Jackson Democrat" politically, but today I am decidely non-partisan---I find little competence, honesty, or source of inspiration in either "organized party."

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Sean McGuire on December 19, 2012
Format: Paperback
Ignore the clearly biased reviews of the pro gun crowd. Tom Diaz cogently defends his position with facts and figures.

If you want to understand why an organization of mostly reasonable hunters and other responsible gun owners (The NRA) fights basic, common sense regulations supported by 80% of the people, follow the money.
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18 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 6, 1999
Format: Hardcover
From the comments of other readers here, you might think this book is some kind of predictable rant. In fact, it's solid reporting, soberly presented. It's filled with direct quotes from gun industry executives and gun magazines that prove the writer's points. Sure, the author has a point of view, but he doesn't shove it down your throat. I found it very analytical and persuasive. I hope other people will be more open-minded about the amazing research in this book. It made me see the gun control issue in a new light.
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36 of 61 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 7, 1999
Format: Hardcover
As a gun owner who has been eagerly looking for someone or some group that advocates a realistic and sensible plan to deal with gun violence, I was incredibly let down by this book. The first thing that needs to be dealt with is the fact that the gun industry is not this incrediby profitable industry. Most American gun companies have been limping along, some of the more notables being pulled from bankruptcy. But beyond this the book is just tired, feeble, and bases its appeal on inflammatory statements. It's really not a surprise, considering Diaz works for the most dishonest interest group outside of big tobacco: The Violence Policy Center. The VPC is nothing more than an organization that seeks to ban guns via radical spin, deception, and outright dishonesty. (An example is the VPC's web sites criticism of scholar John Lott... the criticism focuses purely on other views of Lott's, taken completely out of context, and in no way even attempts to argue his methodology.) Diaz follows all the trends of his employer in this book. Furthermore, Diaz's claim that he is a "reformed gun nut" seem completely implausible; he just makes too many mistakes. There are many excellent scholars on the subjects of guns in this country. David Kopel, John Lott, Gary Kleck, and Don B. Kates all have more serious, mature, scientific and responsible presentations than this dishonest screed. If anything, this book is a superb example of why the gun debate in this country is so acrimonious and non-productive. Guns are deadly, yes. But so is stupidity and the establishment of laws that have been shown to be failures. This book is lethal in its stupidity and arrogance and its appeal to emotionalism over sound science.
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27 of 47 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 24, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Tom Diaz's book is a chilling and convincing indictment of the gun industry and the pro-gun press that acts as their mouthpiece. I read it in a single afternoon. "Making a Killing" is a fundamental book for those who think that there are alternatives to concealed weapon (CCW) liberalization and that some industries will do anything to increase their profit margin, even at the expense of public safety. First of all, I thought that Diaz's section explaining the difference in caliber and types of weaponry was very helpful (32-35). Many gun advocates like confusing these definitions, in the public sphere and in legislative committees, to try and discredit those who oppose them. (Note the earlier reader who attempts this tired strategy.) Diaz's explanation of how the semantics of "assault rifle" changed from the early 1980s to the early 1990s was illuminating (126-128).
I was unaware of the ways that gun manufacturers exploit ties to law enforcement agencies. After much lobbying to insure the criminals have access to high-power, compact weapons, they then go to the police to get them to trade in their six-shooters for pistols. Gun manufacturers then buy the old guns and re-sell them, where they often wind-up in the wrong hands (146-148). The conclusion is clear: the gun industry intends to make its money by selling to both sides of the domestic arms race that they have largely created. For anyone who ever wondered why the NRA and other groups have advocated the most illogical and ineffective gun laws imaginable, it is because they have an interest ($$) in making sure criminals are armed.
Diaz's analysis of the recent push to liberalize CCW (concealed carry weapon) legislation nationwide confirmed my suspicions.
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7 of 14 people found the following review helpful By J. Solis on June 24, 2009
Format: Paperback
As a gun owner, member of the NRA, and believer in the need for new gun legislation that keeps guns in the hands of "responsible" citizens, this book was a great read. Unfortunately, the bias is something out of a Michael Moore movie (which I enjoy by the way). However, the reader must not take this book as gospel. There are fundamental viewpoints presented in the book that are logical: such as when guns are introduced to the civilian marketplace, they end up in the hands of criminals. This fundamental question, I belive, has no fundamental answer. This book does not really present the definitive answer either. Yes, the gun industry is unregulated, and yes they are in it for the profits, and yes the NRA is more of a industry catalyst rather than a spokesgroup for the individual citizen, however, none of this is new. Unfortunately, that is all gun owners have to rely on. This book presents a myriad of facts in snapshots much like soundbites in the news. Read it. It is enjoyable and an easy read. Points are loud and clear, and some are logical.
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