‘In America, we shoot each other.' Thus ends The Trigger: Narratives of the American Shooter by author and businessman Daniel J. Patinkin—an...examination of the lives of six ordinary Americans who share the experience of having shot someone...a former crack dealer, a Navy veteran, a police officer, an abused young woman, a hardworking Hispanic man and a high school football star ... Often the sheer drama of the narratives makes it easy to ignore some of the writing, with cringe-worthy purple moments such as: 'The shame gurgled in Lester’s throat like a vile backwash.'...To his credit however, Patinkin has told us six stories that no one else would. He acknowledges that he is in no way trying to overlook the central tragedy of the victims and their families, but he tries his best to force readers to realize that these shootings aren’t just random events, but a result of real troubles within the shooters and the society that produces, and generally ignores, them.
When he conceived of this project, writes Chicago-based businessman and educator Patinkin, he wanted to 'investigate unfamiliar life stories and thereby illuminate complicated social and cultural dynamics.' He has partially succeeded in doing so, having turned up widely diverse stories ranging from a drug dealer to a calculating murderer to police officers who have killed in the pursuit of their work. Patinkin layers the stories he has collected with observations on larger themes. For example, he takes a brief look at the Black Lives Matter movement in connection with his account of an officer-involved shooting. But in the absence of more thoroughgoing analysis, the social and cultural dynamics go essentially unexplored, limiting the value of this book to a set of testimonials from which one might frame an argument for, or even against, enhanced gun control ... Anecdotal more than analytical but of some interest to students of crime and punishment.
In a timely book, screenwriter and businessman Patinkin tells stories of six very different Americans who have shot and in some cases killed people ... Chapters on each include their histories, how they got access to guns, and the role of class and race in their stories. Patinkin offers no solutions and no generalizations, and includes no mass shooters—he selected his subjects for their 'compelling' stories and for maximum variation in circumstances and regions ... His narratives, each complex in its own way, humanize shooters for those who, like Patinkin before he embarked on this project, have had no previous exposure to them as people.