Gun Show Nation: Gun Culture and American Democracy

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New Press, 2006 - Law - 232 pages
From the floor of American gun shows, a fascinating historical expose of how guns have burrowed into the heart of American democracy.

"To understand gun talk, I had to understand what America means to millions of ordinary people and how these beliefs shaped their sense of who they are, were, and must remain in the future."from the introduction to Gun Show Nation

In this first-of-its-kind archaeology of America's gun culture, progressive cultural historian, critic, and gun owner Joan Burbick takes us on a journey from gun shows to NRA conventions, using firsthand observations and interviews with a wide range of gun owners and gun advocates as a jumping-off point for a fascinating exploration of the rise of the gunfrom Buffalo Bill and the mythology of the frontier to Ronald Reagan, the first sitting president to address the NRA.

Gun Show Nation examines the lethal politics of gun ownership, uncovering a powerful, conservative political ideology that places the individual citizen armed with a gun at the bulwark of our democracy.

Talking directly to gun lobby strategists, Burbick reveals the pro-gun movement's deliberate effort to co-opt the language of rights from the civil rights movement to appeal to a disaffected white electorate, crafting a powerful conservative response to liberal efforts to achieve social, economic, and racial justice in the 1960s.

An illuminating examination of how guns have changed and challenged our beliefs in democracy, Gun Show Nation shows us what America looks like from the floor of a gun show.

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Buffalo Bill at the Gun Show
Rebirth of a Nation
The Rifle Fraternity

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About the author (2006)

Joan Burbick is the author of Rodeo Queens and the American Dream, Healing the Republic, and Thoreau's Alternative History. An award-winning scholar, she is a professor of English and American studies at Washington State University. She lives in eastern Washington.