BLOWN AWAY: American Women and Guns

Caitlin Kelly, Author . Pocket $13 (340p) ISBN 978-0-7434-6418-5

A book about guns in America that doesn't take sides? A book about women and guns that avoids all the theoretical debates about what women "should" feel? Journalist Kelly starts out with some bold confessions instead: that she's been the victim of crime several times, and that she's loved learning to use guns and found it very empowering but doesn't own one herself because she's unwilling to shoulder "the social responsibility of keeping a firearm" in her home. While women do buy guns for sports or hunting, most of the 11 million to 17 million female gun-owners in America are looking for protection, says Kelly. According to the author, three-quarters of all women in America will be crime victims at some point in their lives; since most women are smaller and physically weaker than their assailants, Kelly believes "a gun... is the only weapon that truly levels the field in a life-threatening confrontation." Guns may make women feel safer, the author acknowledges, but do they really protect? While many women want guns to intimidate and don't ever plan to fire to kill, women who do shoot their attackers may face long jail sentences. While Kelly's prose is peppered with shocking statistics from both sides of the debate, it's her interviews with improbable women gun owners—delicately coifed elderly ladies, preppy Mount Holyoke College students, a big-game hunting former Miss Mississippi—that truly fascinate. Kelly offers no conclusions, just a list of sensible recommendations that anyone from either side could support: addressing violence against women, making women's safety a public priority and taking measures to reinforce responsible gun ownership. Agent, William Clark. (Apr. 20)

Forecast: Kelly doesn't take sides; she's simply penned a provocative book for open-minded readers. Trouble is, there may not be much demand (outside the classroom) for a book covering both sides of the gun control issue. Nonetheless, the book is eye-opening and could get some media coverage.

Reviewed on: 02/23/2004
Release date: 04/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-4165-8656-2
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