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Gun Guys: A Road Trip
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Gun Guys: A Road Trip

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  245 ratings  ·  86 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, 352 pages
Published March 5th 2013 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2013)
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James
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
...more
Erik
"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
Mrs.
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
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
Jeremiah
Jun 27, 2013 Jeremiah rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
Michael
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

...more
Melody
Jul 15, 2013 Melody rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
...more
Sheehan
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
...more
Brad Brunner
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
...more
Tim
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
...more
DJMikeG
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.
Wendy
Approach this book knowing that the author is torn between two worlds. A Jewish NJ democrat who loves guns. The large bulk of the book is meant to help non-gun guys have some understanding of gun guys. I believe that the author wants the gun guys to also understand where the "other side" is coming from, but he's likely understanding who the bulk of his audience will be and working from that angle. Sadly, his road trip seems to find very few gun guys that are open to finding common ground. And he ...more
Kristopher
This book was interesting to read. It was written by a Democrat who happens to like guns. (He must be the one! :) ) His experiences throughout the book in traveling around the country and exploring different parts of the gun culture were fun to read about, although bearing no resemblance to my own experiences. I kept feeling throughout the book that he was missing the big picture overall, though. He wants gun owners to try to be nicer about things and yield "just a little". He does note that gun ...more
Robin Morris
Anyone seriously interested in the gun control debate should read this book.
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,
...more
Thomas O'Banion
May 21, 2013 Thomas O'Banion rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Wes Metz
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
Laura
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
Jim
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
...more
Geoffrey Benn
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
Jessica
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
Donna
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
...more
Jacqueline Kawate
I liked this book much more than I expected I would. The author, a liberal Jewish guy from NJ who fell in love with guns at age 5, takes a gun road trip across America. He goes to gun shows, gun shops, gun training classes. He talks to AR-15 lovers. He shoots wild boar in Texas. He takes his wife deer hunting. He carries a concealed gun in every state that allows it. We learn that violent crime is actually on the decrease across America (except in Chicago) . He talks to the NRA. He gives a look ...more
Drew Danko
This is the most balanced, intelligent treatment of the gun control issue I've read to date. Even the bibliography was interesting and informative. One area I need to reread is his discussion on the assault weapons ban. He presented some facts/ideas against the ban, but the one fact I cannot get around is that a number of the children at Sandy Hook might have survived had the shooter not been able to obtain (via his mother)the assault weapon he used. How much recreational shooting is worth the l ...more
Joe
Excellent read for both sides of the gun control debate!

Take a trip across the country with Dan Baum, a self described east coast, liberal, democrat, agnostic, jewish, reluctant gun owner as he looks to answer how a few day at camp with a .22 rifle as a kid left him hooked on guns for life.

The writer visits many places familiar to Ohio gun owners such as Target World in Cincinnati and Rockcastle shooting center in Kentucky along with many other stores and events and does a great job of showing t
...more
Cynthia
An intriguing look at the gun debate from a perspective you don't often see. Dan Baum is left-leaning on most issues, but has been enchanted by guns since he was first handed one at sleep-away camp as a child (hey, it was the early 60s -- a different world). Fifty years later, himself a collector of numerous firearms, Baum sets out to interview gun owners around the country to find out why they own guns and what they use them for. He talks to hunters, concealed-carry instructors, gun shop owners ...more
Jud Barry
Baum is a self-described Jewish Democrat from New Jersey as well as a "lifelong gun guy," which could be the result of a genetic anomaly (my joke; laughter optional). The "road trip" of the title refers to the book's project, in which he ventures out to meet other gun guys (and, less frequently, gals) in their native habitats (gun stores, shooting matches, hunts, etc.) so as assemble a group portrait of the species and in so doing render them less exotic.

Baum's style, smooth and pleasant, reads
...more
Rabid Washcloth
The fact that the book is written by a gun-toting democrat should tell you there is no clear-cut support for either side of the issue. This can certainly be a good thing, but since I'm not too interested in the gun-control debate, it also left me feeling like I wasted my time. I wanted to lean one way or another after I was done. The personal stories were an effective way of expressing the pros and cons of guns, but the stories became a little redundant.
Tony
Personal journalism at its best. Baum provides sufficient depth to aid anyone's thinking about the subject and doesn't get all pushy with his own answers.

His discussions with Aaron Zelman of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership are fascinating as are his personal notes on changing his carry weapon from a revolver to a Glock.

The more people who read this the better.
Andy M
This book is a very honest investigation into gun culture and gun politics. The adamant gun-hater and the libertarian gun owner will both be offended by Baum's arguments, but they won't be able to refute them easily. It takes resolve to leave the safety of your own community and venture into places where you know you'll be despised. Baum makes the lunge anyway, and the result is a brilliant account.
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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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