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Gun Guys: A Road Trip

3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  363 Ratings  ·  107 Reviews
Here is armed America—a land of machine-gun gatherings in the desert, lederhosened German shooting societies, feral-hog hunts in Texas, and Hollywood gun armories. Whether they’re collecting antique weapons, practicing concealed carry, or firing an AR-15 or a Glock at their local range, many Americans love guns—which horrifies and fascinates many other Americans, and much ...more
Hardcover, 338 pages
Published March 5th 2013 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2013)
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Maybe the best thing I've read yet on the places of guns, gun owners, and gun rights/gun control in American society. The author set out to collect information and viewpoints from around the country and across the philosophical spectrum on the subject, and this is a masterful, balanced, thoughtful, often funny, and sometimes poignant report on what he found.

I tend to agree with the jaundiced eye with which Baum regards both ends of the political continuum on this issue. To put it a bit more plai
Apr 29, 2016 Jeanette rated it really liked it
It only loss the star for me in the technical descriptions of length. I know the parts, but had no idea of the attachments? Or the variety.

Dan Baum is the kind of person whom I love to know and befriend. He's urban, honest, open-minded, and essentially a lightening rod for cultural nuance and individual humor. But I especially like the way he feels about his "fit". So many of us do not fit into the ideologue whole world view that divides and categorizes in any of 30 or 40 essential characteristi
Elizabeth A
Dec 28, 2015 Elizabeth A rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, 2014, non-fiction
A holiday road trip to the Mid-West was the perfect time to listen to this audiobook, which is strangely, yet wonderfully, narrated by Richard Kind.

Guns. Abortion. Gays. Religion. What do they have in common? Ideological hysteria from all sides. What has happened to us as a nation, that we cannot have civilized, respectful, well informed debates over important issues?

This book is a travelogue that could help start moving the conversation in the right direction, at least on the gun front. Can yo
May 06, 2013 Erik rated it really liked it
"Gun Guys: A Road Trip" is the (nonfiction) tale of a liberal Democrat gun owner who takes to the road to try to understand and document gun owners in America. This is a must-read for anyone interested in the gun debate. Admittedly, no one with an opinion about gun rights or gun control will be swayed by the contents of this study. We believe what we believe. But this book might best represent what is needed in the discussion: a fair and balanced look at both sides of the issue without mindless ...more
Apr 09, 2016 HBalikov rated it really liked it
“Gun guys don’t talk about it much, because we don’t want to seem weird, but a huge part of the attraction of guns in the sensual pleasure of handling them, whether shooting them or not. They are exquisitely designed and beautifully made like clocks or cameras…Guys like machines, and guns are machines elevated to high, lethal art. Most of us, though, seldom enjoy the pleasure of handling them – perhaps only when we take them from the safe for hunting season, plus a few sessions of target practic ...more
Apr 16, 2016 Jim rated it it was amazing
No matter what side of the gun-control debate you're standing on right now, you really should take the time to read this book. It is like a breath of fresh air to one who has been long exposed to the ravings of lunatics on either end of the gun-control balancing beam. Dan Baum is a Jewish Democrat who also (somewhat guiltily, of course) enjoys the occasional recreational use of firearms.

When it comes to gun control, particularly in the USA, there seems to be very little middle ground. You have
Jul 15, 2013 Melody rated it really liked it
Recommended to Melody by: Dad
I'm astonished at how I feel about this book, frankly. Because I picked it up between two fingers, with my nose wrinkled up and my eyes rolling like the teenager I sometimes act like when my gun guy father tells me to read something like... well, like what I thought this was going to be.

What it was, however, was the story of a liberal Democrat guy who grew up liking guns and how he jumped feet-first into US gun culture to understand it from the inside. It didn't turn out the way Baum expected it
David Ward
Sep 24, 2016 David Ward rated it liked it
Gun Guys: A Road Trip by Dan Baum (Alfred A. Knopf 2013) (683.400973). This is a book about the American gun wars - who can carry, where and when, and under what conditions. I learned from this book that modern day rifles like the American made AR-15 are made of largely interchangeable parts. The owner can add on lots of "extras" to spiff up his gun; he can change the appearance of the weapon, or he can even change the caliber. As I read this, I realized that this is apparently much of the attra ...more
Zachary Marciano
Its incredibly hard for me to review this book without any political bias but there is one thing for certain in this book and its the ability to really grasp and understand gun culture. At it;s core the gun control issue present in America right now is presented in a manner that doesn't constitute as much understanding and comprehensiveness that it should. However Dan Baum's perspective of gun culture is extremely unique in that his political background of being a liberal Democrat and his person ...more
May 10, 2016 Keri rated it really liked it
I'm not emotional about guns and I think that is why I am open to these discussions. This book gave a pretty balanced review of the topic, something many cannot seem to do, especially.considering the author is a gun enthusiast. This book talked about the passion and respect people have for guns but also their 'if you're not with us, you're against us' attitude. Baum discussed the zealots on both sides of the argument. He wrote about the lack of data to support both the anti-gun legislations and ...more
Mar 06, 2013 Mrs. rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Wasn't quite sure what to expect with this one, but it turned out to be a good read, albeit with what I thought were some unnecessary jabs at rural America and some "redneck" stereotyping. Dan Baum is an author and former New York Times writer who grew up in a liberal Democrat Jewish family (his description). He was taught riflery at summer camp when he was 5, and developed a lifelong love of firearms. In 2009, he embarked on a cross country discovery tour to find out exactly who enjoys shooting ...more
Apr 09, 2013 Laura rated it it was ok
Shelves: pleasure-reading
I picked this up because it was reviewed briefly in Mother Jones, and the reviewer praised it for being an honest effort to communicate with and understand gun owners. I agree that this would be a worthwhile project--to understand gun owners and the gulf between them and non-gun owners might help to create policies that would be palatable to "gun guys" and keep everyone safer. The reviewer compared this book to Confederates in the Attic, by Tony Horwitz, and the comparison is apt, because I had ...more
Apr 12, 2013 Michael rated it really liked it
It's pretty momentous that this book came out when it did- there have been two mass shootings in recent American history that has moved guns to the front line of the American discussion agenda (or maybe next down the line right now what with tensions with North Korea being the way they are. The author acknowledges these tragedies in the postscript, but I'll get to that.

Dan Baum doesn't set out to argue one way or the other for gun control or whether guns are inherently good or bad. Baum has an

May 28, 2016 Randy rated it really liked it
It’s very difficult to find a balanced discussion about guns. It’s a polarizing issue like vaccines and abortion. However, Gun Guys comes close. Our protagonist, a liberal Jewish guy from a non-gun owning family becomes enamored of guns at summer camp beginning a life long affair with the idea of guns. The premise of the book is a long road trip around America to discover why some people love them and others hate them. Some of what he learns is surprising; some is what you would expect. Gun nuts ...more
May 23, 2013 Sheehan rated it it was amazing
This is just good journalism, front to back.

I identify with the author's stuck-in-the-middle of the gun debate, navigating the personal pleasure of shooting amongst the largely rhetorical argument between pro-and anti-gun folks. Dan Baum, a self-professed liberal enjoys collecting guns, engaging in the sport of shooting, but is put-off by the political defensiveness of the gun guys who assume the sky is falling and ostracized by his liberal in-group as a "gun guy" , where's a gun guy to go from
Brad Brunner
Mar 10, 2013 Brad Brunner rated it it was amazing
This is more of a comment then a review. Dan Baum, a liberal pro-Obama Democrat and a gun guy since his 60's youth, takes a completely non-political look at guns and gun people in America. It's fascinating and funny, and is extremely timely.

My comment is that I would like to see more books like this, that look at divisive political issues fairly. What Dan Baum has done for guns, someone needs to do for abortion, taxes, and the proper role of government. We needn't let ignorant media or politicia
May 29, 2013 DJMikeG rated it it was amazing
This was a fantastic book, immensely interesting. Non fiction that read like fiction, and never felt like an op ed piece. I'm what I guess you could call a "liberal" gun owner so it really struck a chord with me. This is an excellent book on an incredibly complex and controversial subject. Highest recommendation.
Robin Morris
Mar 10, 2013 Robin Morris rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Anyone seriously interested in the gun control debate should read this book.
Jun 22, 2013 Jessica rated it really liked it
Shelves: top-10-of-2013
This was a really unique book about gun owners in America. Dan Baum fell in love with guns at summer camp when he was a kid, but being a Jewish liberal from New Jersey he didn't fit the "gun guy" stereotype. Starting in 2010 Baum spent a year and a half driving across the country to meet fellow "gun guys" that make up 40% of Americans. He meets machine gun enthusiasts, a couple who participates in shooting competitions together, the founder of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, eve ...more
Aspen Junge
Is it possible for Gun Guys and Not-Gun Guys to find some kind of middle ground? After spending more than a year traveling the country and talking to gun guys on their own terms, Dan Baum kind of thinks so, and I tend to agree with him.

Baum is an Obama-voting liberal who also likes guns. Like me, he first learned to shoot a .22 rifle at summer camp (he kept up with it, I didn't-- I now shoot archery). As an adult, he acquired several vintage guns which he treated with loving care. For this book,
Oct 31, 2014 Tim rated it really liked it
This is probably the most balanced book I have ever read regarding guns and gun control. The author does make a lot of statements that I don't necessarily agree with, but on the whole, he seems pretty consistent in his methodology and is at least trying to see the issues from all angles.

It is also very sad that many proponents of gun control, time and time again, demonstrate a complete ignorance of the subject matter to which they dedicate their scorn and consternation. They are afraid of guns
Sep 23, 2016 Jenny rated it it was amazing
Baum writes with interest and open-mindedness, exploring the world of gun guys (and gals) in America. As a Jewish Democrat who is also a gun guy, Baum is able to provide a perspective that doesn’t make accusations, just explores the topic. I would definitely recommend reading this book if you get the chance - it is completely worth it, whether you grew up with guns or have never touched one in your life.
Marissa Bueno
Feb 17, 2016 Marissa Bueno rated it it was amazing
Gun Guys: A Road Trip is written by Dan Baum, a Jewish Democrat who grew up in suburban New Jersey and now lives in Boulder, CO. Baum goes on a tour of America’s gun culture and takes on the task of discovering what draws so many American to guns. He encounters many different individuals such as AR-15 fanatics, shooting instructors, competitive action shooters, armorers within the film industry, representatives from the National Rifle Association, and many “gun guys.”

I enjoyed reading this book
Mar 15, 2013 Jim rated it it was amazing
Do you want to understand what it is about guns that makes a lot of people defend gun rights, despite the passage of time, various crimes and mass murders, and yes, sometimes the media vilification of lawful gun owners? Read this book.

It's a nice and very thought provoking road trip through gun culture in America. Baum is a liberal Democrat from Colorado, but he's a guy who likes to shoot and own guns, and a damn good writer, and just maybe he's a mensch. So he gets to wondering, "what is it ab
Jun 27, 2013 Jeremiah rated it liked it
Recommended to Jeremiah by: Ben
It's entertaining and well-written and some of the accounts and experiences seem worth trying out (particularly the "Prism" simulation in Las Vegas), but often reads like the author started the book (or journey) with a specific destination in mind for the readers (or himself). A destination that is never quite reached. Baum often disregards facts and considerations that counter the arguments he's making, but the book is supposed to be about a road-trip and interacting with gun guys and not makin ...more
Jun 28, 2013 Donna rated it really liked it
Enlightening, entertaining and evenhanded survey of America's gun culture. Author Dan Baum is a bit of a walking contradiction: a liberal who happens to love guns. He learned to shoot at a boys' summer camp, where he found that riflry was the only activity at which he didn't fail.

Now a stoop-shouldered, middle-aged journalist, Baum set out on a road trip to connect with as many other different kinds of gun owners as he could. He also applied for a concealed carry permit and sought additional tra
Geoffrey Benn
Jul 14, 2013 Geoffrey Benn rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Dan Baum, the author of “Gun Guys: A Road Trip,” is a self-described gun guy who also happens to be a liberal Democrat who grew up in a decidedly anti-gun family. This upbringing and the political inclinations of his friends and family meant that his gun hobby had been an individual, almost secret, preoccupation. With the gun control debates heating up again after the election of Barack Obama, Baum decided to break that isolation by hitting the road and attempting to meet gun guys of every possi ...more
Matthew Budman
Aug 29, 2015 Matthew Budman rated it really liked it
It's rare that any of us picks up a current-events nonfiction book that seriously challenges his or her worldview. With Gun Guys, Dan Baum is all too aware of the man-bites-dog premise of not only his book -- an examination of gun enthusiasts' attitudes -- but his own biography, as a by-the-numbers cultural and political lefty . . . except for his love of guns. And he uses that disconnect incredibly effectively to show liberal readers (like me) guns and gun owners in a way we've never seen, to p ...more
Wes Metz
Dec 07, 2013 Wes Metz rated it it was amazing
The number of people killed annually in the United States by firearms and by motor vehicles is about the same (around 32,000). Clearly, our society places a high value on guns. Gun Guys: A Road Trip is a fair and balanced look at gun culture in America. Baum acquires an NRA cap, a concealed-carry permit, and a handgun, and goes on the road, visiting gun stores, shooting ranges, gun shows, competitions, and training venues. He interviews gun owners of all stripes; those who use guns for play, to ...more
Thomas O'Banion
May 21, 2013 Thomas O'Banion rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Americans
Dan Baum decides to take on the task of discovering what drives American's fascination with guns. Baum, a self-described gun-loving liberal, seeks out the opinions and testimonies from a wide-range of Americans from a reformed gang member, a sport-shooting couple, gun sellers in rural Nebraska, and an NRA employee, among many others. He does not go in to great detail portraying the angry/hostile/paranoid gun owner and he really does not need to. The mainstream media does this just fine and appea ...more
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Dan Baum has been a staff writer for The New Yorker, for which he covered Hurricane Katrina. He's been a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, The Asian Wall Street Journal, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He is the author of Citizen Coors: An American Dynasty and Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure. He has written numerous articles for such national magazines as ...more
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