Gunstories: Life-Changing Experiences with Guns
S. Beth Atkin
HarperTempest, 2006 (2006)
Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke
. Beth Atkin gives voice to eighteen young men and women in
. In their own words, they discuss what effects guns had in their lives. Story titles include:
In the Middle
A Bullet Doesn't Have A Name
Perfection Is The Key
. In her Introduction, Atkin clarifies that she has no
for this project, saying '
Gunstories is about young people's life-changing experiences with guns ... a subtle, poignant, extreme, devastating, or meaningful effect
Shooting Has Empowered Me
, twenty-one year old Merry Briski shares what the '
' and competitions have meant to her over the past ten years. She tells us that shooting with her dad and younger sister Jackie (who has her own story in the book and aspires to become a Marine) has strengthened their bonding. Merry has developed a '
drive for excellence
', gaining strength competitively, as well as determination and problem-solving skills. She writes, '
I knew very clearly that the ability to shoot gave me the ability to defend myself ... shooting sports gave me a sense of security and self-reliance ... There is good gun use and bad gun use
'. Merry emphasizes teaching SAFETY in gun use at all times.
eventeen-year old twins Niko and Theo Milonopolous co-founded
, focused on the passage of a '
citywide ban on the sale of ammunition in LA
'. These ambitious young men give speeches, join marches, and are recipients of the
Annual Injury Prevention Award
Youth Action Award
, and the
2000 President's Service Award
. They feel that their continuing mission of gun control has made them better persons, more aware and knowledgeable. They have learned the constraints of their State law - '
that you can't make any local law that conflicts with the State law, ergo ... you can't ban guns in the State ... so they are committed toward an ammunition ban
tkin includes a bibliography and a list of organizations (pro and con), such as
Common Sense about Kids and Guns
Million Mom March
. Her book addresses teen suicides, drive-by and gang shootings, school shootings such as at Columbine in 1999, and consequences of accidental shootings. I find the voices of young men and women refreshingly straightforward and courageous, no matter what stand they take on the issue. Atkin deserves accolades for bringing this project into the limelight, a difficult task on a controversial subject. Reading
has given me insight into young people's thoughts, feelings, and experiences about firearms.
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