Synopses & Reviews
In this illuminating expose, an award-winning journalist takes aim at one of today's hottest topics: the arming of America's women. America is a nation whose Constitution protects the right to bear arms. It is also a place in which more than one third of all women will be violently assaulted, raped, or robbed in their lifetimes. Journalist Caitlin Kelly learned to use a gun--and found herself empowered in ways she hadn't anticipated. But of the many people across America whom Kelly interviewed for this fascinating book, only some are crime victims who've chosen to join the estimated 17 million American women who own guns. Blown Away takes a comprehensive look at the intersection of guns and women's lives by capturing a large and varied chorus of Voices, from battered wives who chose to fight back to Hollywood celebrities who have taken an outspoken stand against firearms. Readers will come to know women like Patty Varone, bodyguard for nine years to former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani; Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy whose husband was killed by gun violence; female criminals such as Jean Harris and Amy Fisher who have used guns against other people and paid the price legally and psychologically; teens and college women who enjoy shooting for competition and self-defense; and female sport shooters who cherish their weapons as much as the thrill of competing. Unique in its diversity--104 original interviews with men, women, and girls ages 13 to 72--the book includes teens, college women, seniors, blacks, and Hispanics. Shocking frank, and always objective, the book sheds light on every angle of an issue that continues to divide a nation--a nation whose passion for firearms andindividual freedom lives uncomfortably with its image of women as caring nurturers.
A controversy that has divided America for decades.
A decision more women must confront every day.
In the long-standing and heated debate between gun-control advocates and supporters of the Second Amendment, the perspective of women has often been overlooked in what most perceive to be the "masculine" world of firearms. This is the subject journalist Caitlin Kelly was motivated to explore after she was threatened by a stalker and contemplated acquiring a gun for her own protection.
Through interviews and firsthand accounts, Kelly probes the many issues affecting women who own guns and influence gun policies, to those whose lives are most affected by gun violence, and our society's conflicted views on women who acquire guns for sport and self-defense. Voices include activists and legislators such as Representative Carolyn McCarthy, whose husband and son were the victims of a shooting rampage; Patty Varone, who served Rudy Giuliani as a bodyguard for nine years; Mary Leigh Blek, founder of the Million Mom March; and Paxton Quigley, a modern-day Annie Oakley who teaches women how to shoot in the name of empowerment -- as well as insights on guns and violence from such high-profile women as Halle Berry, Madonna, and the late Katharine Graham.
Brutally frank in its description, yet balanced in its analysis, Blown Away is an up-close and unflinching look at guns in America -- and the women who live with them.
About the Author
Caitlin Kelly is a National Magazine Award-winning freelance writer and winner of five journalism fellowships. A former journalism professor at New York University and Concordia University, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Town & Country, Glamour, and others.
Reading Group Guide
By Caitlin Kelly
Reading Group Discussion Guide
1) The author discusses her own experience of learning to shoot a handgun. Would you ever consider shooting a gun? Owning one? Why or why not?
2) While women face so much violence, especially from men, what can they do to better protect themselves? How can they better protect other women or their own children?
3) If you bought a gun for self-defense, how would your family and friends react? What if you bought one for hunting or sport-shooting?
4) If your daughter or a female friend or relative decided to get a gun, how would you feel?
5) Why do you think women with guns are often portrayed as sexy in the movies, but not in real life?
6) What do you think can be done to protect teenagers from gun violence in schools, to prevent another massacre like the one at Columbine?
7) What would you do if you found out that the person you were dating, or married to, owned a gun but had not told you about it?
8) Law enforcement remains male-dominated, with only 13 percent women. Why do you think this is? Do you think women would feel any safer, or be any better protected from violence, if there were more women in uniform?
9) How important is gun control to you when you vote? If you had the power to make a new law, or several, regarding gun use or gun ownership, what would it be?
10) Why do you think the gun "debate" remains so polarized? Can you imagine a day when it is not? What will it take?
11) Have you ever acted on your beliefs about gun ownership -- written a letter to the editor or to an elected official? Made a donation to a gun control group, or gun rights group?
12) The author writes: "We can pay now or we can pay later." Do you think that poverty contributes to gun violence? Would increasing relief to the poor decrease gun-related crime?
13) What surprised you about this book? What did you learn that you previously did not know? Did reading the book affect or alter your views about gun ownership? How?