cover image The Trigger: Narratives of the American Shooter

The Trigger: Narratives of the American Shooter

Daniel J. Patinkin. Arcade, $24.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-62872-919-1

In a timely book, screenwriter and businessman Patinkin (The Crippler: Cage Fighting and My Life on the Edge) tells stories of six very different Americans who have shot and in some cases killed people. They include a Chicago cop who killed a gun-wielding civilian who had shot a fellow patrolman, a teenage girl who shot her abusive father as he slept, and a military veteran who gravely wounded a family member while having delusions. 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 decision to focus on shooters and not victims may strike some as morally questionable; the author writes: “we must endeavor to understand [the] actions and motivations” of the “sentient, emotional human being who... pulled the trigger... if we are to improve the situation in America.” (He also plans to donate a portion of the book’s proceeds to victim-centered charities.) His narratives, each complex in its own thorny way, humanize shooters for those who, like Patinkin before he embarked on this project, have had no previous exposure to them as people. (June)