Synopses & Reviews
Originally published in 1993, Under Fire was widely hailed as the first objective examination of the NRA and its efforts to defeat gun control legislation. Now in this expanded edition, Osha Gray Davidson shows how the NRA's extremism has cost the organization both political power and popular support. He offers a well-reasoned and workable approach to gun control, one that will find many supporters even among the NRA membership.
“An insightful, behind-the-scenes look at a powerful special interest group that has managed to prevent enactment of sensible gun laws for the last century . . . this book is a must.”--Sarah Brady, Handgun Control, Inc.
“An excellent piece of reporting . . . strongly argued. . . . Davidson is a thoughtful social critic who
leads us carefully through a complicated, interesting, and very American bit of history.”—Los Angeles Times
The National Rifle Association enjoys a reputation for invincibility unequaled by any other private lobby. For more than three decades the NRA has handily defeated almost every significant legislative attempt to regulate firearms, thanks in large part to the political clout provided by their activist members, who once numbered close to 3 million. But though its reputation remains, the influence and power of the NRA has begun to fade. Membership is down to 2.6 million and - as gun violence claims nearly 30,000 American lives each year - the group has lost several important gun-control cases in the past two years. Under Fire is the first in-depth, nonpartisan look at this important organization. Using a fast-paced reportorial style, Osha Davidson investigates the current troubles of this feisty, often fanatical, but quintessentially American, institution. Davidson examines such issues as the link between drugs and guns, the NRA's connection with gun manufacturers, its increasingly unsteady relationship with the police, and the growing schism within the organization itself. Effectively separating the NRA from the myths that so often define it, Under Fire portrays a gun lobby that is neither the Evil Empire its foes claim nor the super-patriotic defender of cherished American values that it holds itself to be. As he explores these conflicting identities, Davidson shows that charges made by each side are not merely harmless banter in an isolated political battle. In place of reasoned debate, both camps resort to insults and bumper-sticker slogans that tighten the deadlock on an issue with important ramifications for all Americans. At a time when a resolution to the crisis of unrestrictedfirearms seems to be of paramount concern, Under Fire offers true insight into one of our nation's most pressing concerns.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 317-328) and index.
About the Author
Osha Gray Davidson has written for many publications, including the New York Times, Nation, New Republic, and Philadelphia Inquirer. He is also the author of Broken Heartland: The Rise of America's Rural Ghetto (IOWA, 1996) and The Best of Enemies: Race and Redemption in the New South.
Table of Contents
Part 1: The Rise of the NRA
1. The Stockton Lesson
2. The Early Years
3. One of the Great Religions of the World
Part 2: Cracks in the Empire
4. The Bullett and the Badge
5. A War in the Streets
6. Holding Actions
7. Enemies Within and Without
Part 3: Gun Wars
8. Drums Along the Potomac
10. Palace Coup
11. Operation St. Joseph
12. The Last Battle
200,000 Bodies: The Battle Continues