The mass shooting in Las Vegas on Sunday evening, which left 59 dead and hundreds injured, has reignited the debate over gun regulation in the United States. Below, one book delves into the conversation and offers some solutions, while two others explore the lives of those affected by these tragedies.
LIVING WITH GUNS
A Liberal’s Case for the Second Amendment
By Craig R. Whitney
284 pp. PublicAffairs. (2012)
The writer of this book, which provides an analysis of the gun control debate, came to the issue with fresh eyes or, as he writes, with “no gun in this fight.” He re-examines why the right to bear arms was included in the Bill of Rights, arguing that the Second Amendment did not give anyone the right to bear arms, “it simply recognized a right Americans had always had in common law and protected it.” But that right was always subject to regulation, and Whitney, a former Times reporter and editor, presents evidence of limits on gun access throughout history. He also offers -explanations as to why consensus has been so difficult to reach as well as his own proposed solutions.
A Story of Courage, Love, and Resilience
By Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly, with Jeffrey Zaslow
320 pp. Scribner. (2011)
In January 2011, former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was severely injured after being shot in the head during an assassination attempt that killed six others. This memoir, co-written by Giffords’s husband, Mark Kelly, a retired astronaut, focuses on the effect the tragedy had on their lives and marriage. Giffords underwent a lengthy recovery, having to relearn how to speak, walk, read and write. At the same time, her husband was gearing up for his final flight as the commander of the space shuttle “Endeavour.” This book offers an inside look at the life of a survivor, while also discussing the couple’s perspective on the gun control debate and the government’s role in solving the issue.
A MOTHER’S RECKONING
Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy
By Sue Klebold
305 pp. Crown Publishers. (2016)
For perspective on how mass shootings affect the family of the shooter, consider this book by the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the two teenage boys who opened fire at Columbine High School in 1999, killing 12 students and one teacher. Though the Klebold family shunned the press for years for fear that their comments might be misconstrued — in the book, Klebold describes “cringing like a frightened animal,” suffering from panic attacks and losing 25 pounds — eventually she decided she had a responsibility to try to offer insight into her son’s psyche and his upbringing. Ultimately, Klebold’s biggest lament is that she did not truly know her son, and she feels immense guilt over her ignorance. In addition to offering an account of the years leading up to the attack, she also seems to want to communicate with the families of the victims, offering herself to any who would be helped by speaking to her. Our reviewer wrote that Klebold “earns our pity, our empathy and, often, our admiration; and yet the book’s purpose is to serve as a cautionary tale, not an exoneration.”