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Shooters: Myths and Realities of America's Gun Cultures First Edition, 2nd Printing Edition

8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195150513
ISBN-10: 0195150511
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Editorial Reviews


"A fascinating look into the world(s) of gun enthusiasm that puts real, human faces on a gun debate dominated by antiseptic statistics and abstract principles. After reading Shooters, youll wonder why no one has done such a study before."--Reason

Shooters constitutes a true break-through: readers will discover an even-handed analysis that examines the gun amid these American landscapes."--The Electric Review

"While academics continue to convince each other of their brilliant rationality in condemning guns and gun owners, Abby Kohn takes a courageous step to "the other side," beginning a discourse in which the massive appeal of guns can finally start to be appreciated. Her empirical investigation of the appeal of guns to enthusiasts is a long overdue movement in the only direction that can actually lead to policies that might reduce criminal violence."-- Jack Katz, author of Seductions of Crime

"Abigail Kohn's Shooters opens wide a window into the diverse and much misunderstood world of gun enthusiasts. Kohn provides a rich account of the subculture of the men and women who use guns recreationally as well as for self-defense. Her exploration of their motives and satisfactions is subtle and insightful. Moreover, Kohn deftly situates the current debate over guns in the context of the role guns have played in shaping American culture and character. Shooters deserves a wide audience. It may not change the hardened positions in the debate over guns, but no one will put this book down without having had to rethink their attitude toward guns and the men and women who use them."--Jan Dizard, co-editor of Guns in America

"Abigail Kohn brings a fresh, and extraordinarily well-informed, voice to the gun control debate. Her research into the world of gun enthusiasts lends depth and richness to this complex segment of American society, giving the lie to the often demeaning caricatures of gun-owners that tend to dominate the popular media. Kohn's concluding suggestions about ways both sides of the debate can advance beyond "good guy"/"bad guy" stereotypes are constructive, level-headed, and thought-provoking in the best sense of the term. A timely and important contribution to the national conversation about firearms and violence."--Mary Zeiss Stange, author of Woman The Hunter and Gun Women: Firearms And Feminism In Contemporary America

"The first anthropologist to study gun use in America, Abigail Kohn interrogates American gun culture in an even-handed analysis of what guns mean to Americans. Building on a study of gun enthusiasts, she explores the attraction of guns and examines the attitudes and approaches Americans take toward guns. This incisive, thoughtful work is a major contribution to Americas gun debate. It lays out the issues in a direct, easily accessible way. Shooters should be required reading for anyone concerned about guns, regardless of where they stand."--Gay Becker, author of Disrupted Lives and The Elusive Embryo

About the Author

Abigail Kohn is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute of Criminology at the University of Sydney Law School. She has published articles in Reason Magazine as well as a number of academic journals.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; First Edition, 2nd Printing edition (June 10, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195150511
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195150513
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.1 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,091,239 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 41 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a great book and long overdue. As a Marine Corps combat veteran and ardent handgun enthusiast I shoot because I enjoy it and because I believe in self-defense. Unlike many of the people I shoot with I am very liberal politically and even though I am a member of the NRA I don't care for alot of their rhetoric. I knew there was a middle ground to being pro or anti-gun and this book illustrates that perfectly. Highly recommended whatever side of the debate you are on but especially if like most Americans you are in the middle ground of this issue.
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18 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Albatross on March 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
I have several criticisms of this book.

First, Abigail Kohn's ("AK") sampling approach is not scientific. When one does a study exploring the nature of something like America's gun culture, being objective means you study more than just one sample. Here, AK concentrates on an outlier within an outlier. As she admits in her introduction, San Francisco is not representative of America's culture in general so then why should it be the basis for sampling America's gun culture? And then to compound things, the bulk of her interviews are with members of the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) which itself is an outlier within America's gun culture. It would be very hard to draw an accurate conclusion, indeed to generalize to the rest of gun owning America with this sample. SASS members may like to be called shooters, other gun enthusiasts may not.

Second, the book's subtitle is "Myths and Realities of America's Gun Cultures". What I expected then was a book describing how people that don't own guns view people that do and then the research would either confirm or deny those views. Her book does attempt to do this, but it starts two thirds of the way through and is mostly covered in the Conclusion. Through the first two-thirds of the book she delves into describing how gun owners view themselves and then primarily through the eyes of the SASS. What we get then from her research is that gun owners want to relive the glory days of the cowboy, a conclusion that is pretty much the same as the knee jerk reaction of unarmed America. Really, what did she expect from the SASS?
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Donal Fagan on May 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although Abigail Kohn was raised in a liberal Jewish background, it would be hard to reduce her to a cultural stereotype after reading Shooters: Myths and Realities of America's Gun Culture. The book followed from her UCSF dissertation in anthropology, Shooters: The Moral World of Gun Enthusiasts. In May 2001 she posted an article for Reason Magazine: Their Aim Is True - Taking stock of America's real gun culture, and in May 2005 she participated in a Reason Debate: Straight Shooting on Gun Control.

Her book was published in December 2005, but I only ran across it because some folks were touting More Guns, Less Crime. Based on the Amazon reviews I had a feeling I already knew what Lott's book was going to say, and Shooters was one of their alternate suggestions. I disregarded the peach schnapps jokes that were running through my head and sent for a copy.

Kohn sought to define what owning guns means to American gun owners. Any city would have had quirks, but I have to admit that San Francisco seemed like an outlier of a place for a study of American gun culture. I'm relatively new to guns myself, but in MD and PA I know a lot of guys that hunt and frequent gun ranges, and even some that shoot paintball. But I had no idea that Cowboy Action Shooting and SASS even existed - and I've never met anyone that calls himself, or herself, a shooter. But America is a big place, and she started near her campus at U Cal SF.

As I come away from the book, I feel that I learned some interesting history and was exposed to many new ideas, which reflects well on the book. But I also feel that the book was actually less balanced than the dispassionate anthropological tone would indicate. Kohn immersed herself in gun culture - and liked it.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Illuminaughty on March 16, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book is a scholarly piece of academia that's well thought out and well cited. Overall, the book has a strong message with clear thoughts and examples. Even the pro-gun control parts are well in line with most pro-gun ideology.

The only thing I strongly disagree with is the ending, which calls for the criminalization of private gun transfers in lieu of "professional transfers" for a "nominal fee." Clearly Abagail has never encountered the gun dealers that charge fifty to a hundred dollars for the BS NICS paperwork. And if the paperwork is mandatory, you can bet prices will rise. Just look at class 3/ NFA items transfers. The CHEAPEST I've paid is 50 dollars per. But I digress.

Good book, it's nice for a liberal to see the light as I myself am neither liberal nor conservative but parts of both. I often say education of an issue will show the true nature of it, and this book will educate people who're presumably not into guns such as gun-debate-illiterate liberals and give them an objective view of the entire subject. For gun owners, it will offer a reasonable argument towards sensible gun control (yes, I can't believe I said it either), sensible gun control being things like felons and children not owning guns, and straw purchasers being sent to jail, basically things that are already illegal. Her conclusion is also a good one, though I disagree with the private transfers part strongly.

For that to come close to working, there'd have to be no central NICS check-in for "professional" transfers. I'm sorry, but you just don't know where the information your NICS check goes to. Tin Foil hat off.
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