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on February 1, 2013
Like many, I've been a fan of King's fiction all my life. He definitely has a way with words that few can match, and this piece is no different. The first part was especially entertaining, where he describes the basic stages that happen in the media after a tragedy takes place. He then goes on to talk a lot about his book Rage (a story about a school shooting) and how he decided to pull it from sale after a number of kids apparently were inspired by it. I don't think I would have pulled it, but it's his book, and so that was his choice. I understand. I also agree with him that entertainment like movies & TV and video games probably has very little to do with violent crime, at least there is very little statistical evidence one could point to showing such a connection.

So you might be wondering... why only 2 stars? Because as the title of my review states, there is nothing new to see here. This book doesn't add anything to the debate that hasn't already been said a million times, and that's just by Piers Morgan. If the aim of the book was to build a bridge between the pro-gun control crowd and the anti-gun control crowd, then it utterly failed at doing so. Most of the short book simply recounts different shootings that have occurred over the years, and then offers the same exact solutions we here touted in the media on a daily basis. Solutions that aren't really solutions, but just emotional knee-jerk reactions to a tragedy. Reminds me of how people acted after 911, blood thirsty and ready for war, without ever asking relevant questions, such as why people attacked us in the first place, and if our foreign policy could have incited such attacks. No no no, let's just rush off to war and kill a few million people to make ourselves feel better, and while we're at it pass laws allowing the government new ways to monitor and detain US citizens, further infringing upon our rights. Moral of the story, learn how to control your emotions. Learn how to use reason and logic when forming an opinion.

Here's the big 3 proposals King mentions at the end of the book. Here's what we all paid our money to hear. They will sound familiar to anyone who pays attention.

1. Universal Background Checks: This is the one least likely to cause debate among most people. There is an outdated study that suggests 40% of all gun sales don't have background checks, which means that 40% of all gun sales are a private citizen selling to another private citizen. With all the controversy about places like Wal-Mart and Dick's sporting goods selling so many guns, I find it highly unlikely that 4 out of 10 sales are private sales of what would be mostly used guns. But regardless, I'm willing to concede universal background checks as long as it's done in an open and fair way. At best, I believe all universal background checks would really do is deter a criminal a week or so at obtaining a gun. Does anyone really think the gangbanger is gonna say, "Well, I guess I can't get a gun now because of that new universal background checks law." Seriously? New gang members will still be able to buy a gun because they won't have a criminal background yet, and old gang members with criminal backgrounds will continue to get guns they way they have always got them, by having somebody without a criminal history buy them for them. It's called a black market for guns, and it's an easy way for the seller to make lots of money charging way over retail for a weapon. As for the mass shooters, the vast majority had no criminal background, so a background check would have done nothing anyway. Not to mention, many of them simply stole the guns from family members who had passed background checks. As far as Obama saying that if we only save one life it would be worth it. Well, that's a ridiculous premise for an argument. How many lives could we save every year by reducing the speed limit to 25 mph? Probably tens of thousands at least, yet he would never advocate that.

2. Ban high-capacity magazines: Most polls that ask people if they agree with banning high-capacity magazines don't specify what high-capacity means. For some people, high-capacity might mean 50 or 100 round drums. For others, 30 round magazines. Some might think anything over fifteen or twenty would be high-capacity. It's a highly subjective question. For Mr. King, anything over 10 rounds is high-capacity, which is again an example of him adding nothing new to the debate, as that is the same limit most pro-gun control advocates are asking for. Come on King, be more creative. How many gun crimes are committed where someone fires more than 10 rounds? Hardly any, and yet this is touted as a solution. If at best you force a handful of mass shooters each year to take a few extra seconds to reload, how many lives will you save? 20? 30? Out of 12,000 homicides a year. Would King jump and down with joy if next year there was only 11,970 homicides? I don't see how this does anything to tackle the greater problem of violence in the country. Also, I would love for someone to answer this question: If one or multiple attackers breaks into your house and threatens you or your family, would you prefer to have a gun with 10 bullets in the magazine or 11? If your answer is 10, you're either a fool or a liar. If you're answer is to hide under the bed and wait for the police to get there, you're just a fool.

3. Ban "Assault" Rifles: Wow, couldn't have seen that one coming. I've yet to hear anyone properly define what an "assault" rifle is, or why certain features somehow make a gun more deadly. Why does an adjustable stock make the gun more deadly? Or a rail where you could mount a scope or flashlight? Or a pistol grip? And if pistol grips were a sign of a weapon of mass destruction, or are a "military style" feature, why aren't these same people calling for bans on all pistols, since last I checked pistols had pistol grips. The only people who call for assault weapon bans are people who don't know anything about the guns they want to ban. They just see a scary looking gun that reassembles an m-16. In fact, the only reason I've ever heard anyone give for these rifles being more dangerous than other guns is that they can accept high-capacity magazines. The rest of the stuff is just aesthetics. The ar-15, for example, shoots a round that is significantly smaller than most hunting rounds. Some states even have laws against using that caliber round to hunt deer because it's NOT deadly enough. So if the only reason for wanting these certain types of rifles banned is because they can accept high-capacity magazines, making them capable of shooting off a lot of rounds consecutively without having to reload, then wouldn't their proposed ban on high-capacity magazines be enough? Is an AR-15 with a 10 round mag more dangerous than a Glock 19 with a 10 round mag? Only at long range, like 100+ yards, and how many mass shootings are done at long range? Rifles also require two hands to shoot with any sense of accuracy, and would be easier to wrestle away from an attacker because of their size. Handguns, however, can be easily concealed and can be shot with reasonable accuracy one handed. Would you rather a gunman go into a school with a 10 round Glock in each hand, or one AR-15 rifle with a 10 round magazine? Which would be more deadly? The answer should be obvious. This whole argument for banning these semi-automatic rifles is quite stupid to anyone who knows about guns. But still, people like King spread irrational fears based on their own misunderstandings.

So in conclusion, none of these new proposals will do anything to curb the violent crime problem in the US. Most people in the gun-control crowd only focus on mass shootings, when statistically the vast majority of gun violence is committed by gangs involved in the illegal drug trade. The one thing that would have a real and almost immediate effect on bringing down overall gun violence, ending drug prohibition, never gets mentioned, even by the liberal crowd who so often claim to believe in individual rights. Also strengthening education, better understanding of mental illness, economic growth, more responsible parenting, ending the welfare system that has decimated many urban, mostly minority communities, would all lead to better results in the long run. But, of course, these are much harder issues to discuss and implement, and aren't a quick fix to heal the collective's emotional wounds.
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on January 29, 2013
I love Stephen. I write. I love him like a soul uncle. But here's where he fell down: giving the proceeds of this essay to the Brady Campaign absolutely ASSURES that anybody who disagrees with him won't read a word. Calling the pro-gun crowd "yeehaws" absolutely ASSURES that if they did in fact start reading the essay, that is where they will stop reading. Mr. King, if your mission was to inspire reasoned debate, you failed utterly. I'm so disappointed about this, because I have been craving a voice in the crowd who could lead us toward an open discussion (because there is none, only fence building and stone throwing, even stone throwing at the grieving parents of Sandy Hook victims). I thought you might be that voice. But you have proven not to be. If anything, you have only thrown a bottle rocket into the middle of whatever discussion was kindling.
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on November 3, 2014
King's short piece is appealing for a variety of reasons. First, it evidences the righteous anger that any sensible person feels when faced with gun tragedy. Second, he bluntly and persuasively addresses a few of the "gun-damentalists" favorite arguments about firearms, violence, and regulation. Third, he is always a good read. But, this seems like the kind of riff one writes quickly after seeing one too many horrors and wondering why no one else is screaming. It is sensible, but it is also superficial in its treatment of gun policy. Want to read a Facebook posting from a friend and favorite writer who is horrified by gun violence and a lack of a sensible gun policy, then this is for you.
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on February 18, 2013
I have always been a huge King fan but I have to disagree with basically this whole book. He is obviously part of the left and the facts about Australia and a few other parts were badly incorrect. I guess if you need some entertainment whilst on the s******, well, here you are but that's as far as this work goes!
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on May 18, 2013
This essay is the middle ground in the national gun debate. And the overwhelming majority of Americans knows it. Yet the majority will continue to be silenced by the drunks in the barroom, as King characterized the loud extremists, until we refuse to hear them. Perfect writing, as is always the case with Stephen King.
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on June 22, 2015
I do not believe it will happen in my lifetime, but, there has to be restrictions as to what guns are available to the public. There is no need for high powered riffles. You do not need an ar15 to go deer hunting. There should be available licensed hunters in the case of a bear, dog pack or other harmful situations.
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on April 25, 2013
So I like SK- a lot. I think he's a great writer and also a very smart man who has a unique talent for turning things around in his head and being able to present them in a new way. A great, smart read for people on both sides of the gun debate.
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on April 15, 2013
I was happy with how this essay went. There were a couple of surprises for me (I did not know that Steve owns guns). Alot of people were upset with Mr. King for sharing his thoughts and views on the gun control issue, but I am not one of them. He makes some very good points and gives us some food for thought.
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on February 4, 2016
I didn't expect this to be typical King, and I wasn't surprised. Being familiar with his writing, including his non-fiction, I anticipated some well thought out points. I certainly wasn't disappointed. While I disagreed with a good deal, it was interesting and clear arguments. The nation desperately needs rational discussion and debate on this issue. King provides a possible healthy beginning for that. I just wish he had given some more facts/data to support some of his statements (I hate doing research!).
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on February 25, 2013
Any book on gun violence in America includes opinions on what can be done about it. In this case, Stephen King gives us a list of possible Congressional bills starting with the one most likely to pass and ending with the one most needed, but least likely to end up law.

But it is the first chapter of this short and astute essay that truly horrifies with its brutal, unembellished clarity. Called “The Shake,” it gives us a play by play of how each of these shootings is identical. Different names, different places, yes; but each committed by a boy or young man, with automatic weapons swiped from an adult relative, usually a parent; how the crime enters the public sphere, and then, just as quickly, fades away. And, ultimately, how none of the inherent problems that lead to the endlessly repeating scenario is ever honestly addressed.

King owns guns, and supports the 2nd Amendment. His writing is no-frills, honest, and asks hard questions.
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