Guns in American Society; An Encyclopedia of History, Politics, Culture, and the Law


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Drizzt
March 12, 2003, 06:17 PM
Library Journal Reviews

March 15, 2003 Saturday

SECTION: BOOK REVIEWS; Reference; Pg. 74

LENGTH: 320 words

HEADLINE: Guns in American Society;
An Encyclopedia of History, Politics, Culture, and the Law

BYLINE: Charles K. Piehl

BODY:
.2 vols. ABC-CLIO. 2002. 727p. ed. by Gregg Lee Carter. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 1-57607-268-1. $185. REF

Contributed by social scientists, legal experts, members of the ethical and religious communities, and others, this book's 400-plus entries fairly represent the complex issue of firearms use in America. The entries range widely, including many individuals past and present, both in and out of government.

A variety of federal and state court cases are covered, as are the ordinances promoted by gun control advocates or opponents, and good background is provided on many issues.

For instance, anyone seeking information on sawed-off shotguns, the TEC-DC9 pistol, Saturday-night specials, or the Tommy gun will find not only a helpful definition but also a very brief historical sketch, making this book an excellent starting point for researchers unfamiliar with historical gun terminology.

In addition, Carter (The Gun Control Movement) has provided a useful guide for sorting through the many relevant organizations and interest groups, and in this regard the encyclopedia is hard to beat.

Unfortunately, it proves less successful in placing guns in cultural and social historical context. For example, while some effort is made to discuss the influence of television on gun violence, it is hard to find much about films in either the pre-TV or TV era. And while there is a separate discussion of guns and African Americans, the same cannot be said of other significant racial or ethnic groups.

Approximately half the topics covered here duplicate those in Glenn H. Utter's Encyclopedia of Gun Control and Gun Rights, but this book provides fresh material on most of those entries and much more. Thus, despite its limitations, it should serve as the standard reference on many aspects of guns, gun ownership, and gun control in the United States.

- Charles K. Piehl, Minnesota State Univ., Mankato

LOAD-DATE: March 12, 2003

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