Gun Baby Gun


Gun Baby Gun – A Bloody Journey Into The World Of The Gun
By Iain Overton
Canongate – £18.99

           There are more gun shops in the US than petrol stations. At almost 30,000,            there are about ten times the number of federally licensed firearms dealers              in the US than McDonald’s. And the dealers are overwhelmingly middle-                    aged, white and male; just looking at the legions here told you that. There                wasn’t a black face in the whole crowd.

Having lived in the United States for the best part of ten years, I can well relate to this book, as county’s gun-laws are frightening, despicable and what’s more: fundamentally out-of-control.

Out-of-control, not so much because guns ensure the many thousands of pointless, tragic deaths are an accepted, absurd, inexorable facet of American culture (as opposed to life), but because those who regularly kneel at the alter of the gun, resolutely refuse to listen.

They refuse to listen to reason. They refuse to listen to trauma. They refuse to listen to heartbreak. They refuse to listen to anything or anyone, other than their own impossible, fatalistic, warped, selfish, myopic, paranoid, moronic, barbaric, stupid, murderous selves. And the list could, perhaps should, go on significantly longer. Although in a round-a-bout kind of way, the writer and investigative journalist, Iain Overton – who is also Director of Investigations at the London-based charity Action on Armed Violence – touches on almost everything there is to be touched on when it comes to each and every harrowing dimension/dilemma with regards the worst invention in the history of humanity.

That’s right; in Gun Baby Gun – A Bloody Journey Into The World Of The Gun, Overton thoroughly dissects the appalling world of the gun. He does so by diplomatically traipsing the increasingly thin-line that traverses across what is acceptable in the US (”God, power, flags and ego were just different ways to sell gunmetal”) and what isn’t internationally (”There are 12 billion bullets produced every year – almost two bullets for every person on this earth. And as many as 500,000 people are killed by them every year worldwide”).

Eye-opening and accountable, urgent, grisly, real and painstakingly researched, these 312 pages (excluding an assortment of black and white photographs and Notes), tells the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the trigger from which ensues only pain, tragedy and more tragedy.

For instance, in chapter twelve (‘The Traders’), the author regales the reader with having attended what sounds like the most ghastly experience this side of a stabbing convention: a gun convention, aptly entitled Shot Show in Las Vegas (where else?): ”The industry reportedly says these semi-automatic weapons are for hunting and for target practice but death – and the fear of death – stalks much of the civilian assault-weapon advertising […] ‘Take the shot of your lifetime,’ the company urged […]. Alone, these images could be dismissed, but seeing row after row of them, I began to feel insanity creeping in. Profit here was infused with murderous intent […]. In the US guns seemed to be all about God, freedom and individualism.”

Personally, I’d add power and madness to the final sentence of the above, because there really is no getting away from so many facts:

In some places, it’s easier to get a gun than a glass of clean water.
In some paces, you are allowed to carry concealed firearms into schools.
In some places, there are more guns than people to shoot them.

As Jon Snow has been quoted as saying, Gun Baby Gun ”captures the gun’s strangely accepted place in human life and, far too often, death.”

This (very readable) outstanding book, should absolutely be made COMPULSORY READING for very gang-member in El Salvador and every red-neck-yahoo-philistine who subscribes to the Second Amendment.

David Marx


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