From Publishers Weekly
Weir's analysis of gun control is objective and well documented. After tracing the history of militias-private citizens with arms who made themselves available to government in times of crisis-he argues that the continuing contest in the U.S. is predominantly an emotional one, with phony statistics presented by pro-gun and anti-gun advocates alike. But while the National Rifle Association and its allies are able to deluge legislators with letters and telegrams, they often come off sounding paranoid; the Handgun Control Inc. faction, on the other hand-Weir is a member of both groups-adopts a tone of reasonableness and so wins the public-relations battle. Weir's nation-by-nation and state-by-state survey, however, suggests that there is little correlation between gun ownership or gun control laws and murder rates. Crimes involving guns, he argues, are infrequent in stable societies where there is a fairly equitable distribution of wealth and "a reasonable opportunity to advance socially and economically." Weir's message is that the propaganda of both the pro- and the anti-gun advocates can be ignored if we concentrate on building a more equitable society. He is the author of In the Shadow of the Dope Fiend.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Rely on former journalist Weir to take a controversial subject and make it more so. In the Shadow of the Dope Fiend
(1995) tore apart the War on Drugs, tracing the distorted public policy and brutal but money-gushing black market that decades of criminalization have produced. Here, he jumps into the cross fire of the gun control debate, challenging the arguments of "anti-gunners" and "gunners" alike and arguing that the issue constitutes "snake oil" and "Band-Aids," a diversion from the "radical surgery" --changes in tax laws, welfare and other social services, housing policy, etc.--needed to give the poorest Americans a stake in society. A member of both Handgun Control, Inc., and the National Rifle Association, Weir will anger both with his pointed critiques of the surveys and statistics they wield. He takes a hard look at militias: the history of such forces in the U.S. and their use in other nations, particularly Switzerland. In the end, he insists, gun availability can't explain American violence; social and economic tension and inequality do. Mary Carroll