In her masterful The Gunning of America, Pamela Haag furnishes a salutary corrective to the perception of the gun’s inevitability in American life by showing its history as a commodity invented and then deliberately marketed and distributed like any other widget or household appliance ... In a partly speculative but gripping foray, Haag describes how [Sarah] Winchester most likely felt herself cursed, not only by the immediate deaths of her family but by all the souls dispatched courtesy of her husband’s firearms.
One book will not settle the long-running gun debate, but Haag has powerfully reframed the issue as one rooted in dollars and cents, not the Second Amendment and inalienable rights. In a brief section at the book’s end, she weighs in on contemporary debates, arguing that we should look at guns as a business and put the onus on makers, not owners. She also endorses smart-gun technology and the same kind of consumer regulations that 'apply to almost every other commodity.' Her recommendations are a touch cursory and anticlimactic. Her historical sense, however, is brilliantly on display in these pages.
...a fascinating exploration of the major businesses and families that have manufactured firearms — and manufactured the seductiveness of firearms — in this country over the past 150 years ... The most memorable portions of The Gunning of America feature advertisements aimed at making firearms appealing to all audiences.