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Gunstories: Life-Changing Experiences with Guns

Overview

Guns are a fact of life for young people growing up in the United States. They are found in homes?for protection, sport, and hunting. Guns are also on the street?for defense and security, and in gang-related uses. Guns can cause accidents, and even deaths, while they can also nurture self-esteem and athletic abilities. The impact of guns on young people's lives is undebatable?and often dramatic.

S. Beth Atkin's evocative photographs and candid interviews share the remarkable ...

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Overview

Guns are a fact of life for young people growing up in the United States. They are found in homes—for protection, sport, and hunting. Guns are also on the street—for defense and security, and in gang-related uses. Guns can cause accidents, and even deaths, while they can also nurture self-esteem and athletic abilities. The impact of guns on young people's lives is undebatable—and often dramatic.

S. Beth Atkin's evocative photographs and candid interviews share the remarkable stories—told in their own voices—of an array of young people's life-changing experiences with guns.

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Editorial Reviews

The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Exceptional…The book is more than a resource, it’s also a page–turning read in its own right.”
ALA Booklist
“Excellent for classroom discussion as teens seek to extract fact from opinion…Buy more than one copy; you’ll need backup.”
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Exceptional…The book is more than a resource, it’s also a page–turning read in its own right."
The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Exceptional…The book is more than a resource, it’s also a page–turning read in its own right.”
Publishers Weekly
Young people give their opinions both for and against gun use in Gunstories: Life-Changing Experiences with Guns by S. Beth Atkin. A 21-year-old Midwesterner competes in shooting competitions; a 16-year-old Californian says that where he lives, everyone "wishes that guns weren't around"-he accidentally shot himself; two teens describe their experiences as victims, in their own homes, of a drive-by; another Midwestern teen believes that her family's hunting experience creates a family bond. With a generous number of photographs, Atkin presents a balanced view of the pros and cons and allows readers to come to their own conclusions. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA
After spending seven years researching information about guns and gunplay, Atkins gathers testimonials addressing how guns are an integral part of teens' lives. Situated between oral testimonials, and figuratively placing an exclamation mark on the topic, are summaries of thirty-four school shootings occurring between 1995 and 2005. The number of people killed and wounded and the teen shooter's age sober the reader while magnifying the author's reasons for writing this book. Several of the recorded interviews ramble, however, and may prompt readers to flip to the next installment. Oddly rather than sensationalizing the event, testimonials from teens who have been shot come across as bland and simply chronicle the facts of being wounded in an emotionless tone. The text consists of gun-related incidents including innocent bystanders shot during drive-bys, a teen accidentally shooting himself in the face, competitive shooters mentioning how guns have improved their self-esteem, and the words of a suicide witness. Voices of African American, Caucasian, Native American, and Hispanic teens from both inner-city and rural environments personalize the book. How guns initially entered their lives is a question presented to the interviewees. Readers learn that several teens were taught about weapons by a mature adult and gained respect for the firearm's power. Other teens had no prior contact with guns before a pistol flashed and forever altered their lives. A potential supplement to government curriculums, this title also contains an extensive appendix of organizations that offer more information about guns, suicide, and the legal justice system. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P J S (Better than most, marredonly by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2006, Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins, 256p.; Photos. Further Reading. Appendix., and PLB Ages 12 to 18.
—Rollie Welch
KLIATT - KLIATT Review
This collection of true stories about teenagers and guns is riveting. Filled with interviews, with b/w photographs of the young people speaking, the book contains stories of teenagers who have a variety of opinions about guns. Two sisters in Pennsylvania tell about how their parents have taught them how to use guns from the time they were five years old; their mother has been the spokesperson for Second Amendment Sisters, the largest female pro-gun group in the United States. There are teenagers here telling about how they have worked to get rid of guns and/or ammunition in their communities after gun violence. There are teenagers affected by gun violence in their schools. There are teenagers who have used guns in gangs. There are teenagers who love to shoot and hunt. There are teenagers who know about guns and suicide. It may be that readers who are strongly either pro-gun or anti-gun will want to scream in frustration when they read an opposing viewpoint here, but that's the strength of the collection. Essential to YA collections. Age Range: Ages 12 to adult. REVIEWER: Claire Rosser (Vol. 42, No. 1)
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Atkin's Voices from the Streets (Little, Brown, 1996), about the life and times of youthful gang members, stimulated her research into guns and how they affect teens' lives. This book is the result, providing transcripts of interviews with young people from across the country. It clearly shows the diversity of the American gun culture, contrasting, for example, Ohio 4-H clubs that train boys and girls to target shoot competitively with South Central L.A., where their urban counterparts too often find themselves in the front lines of gun violence. Some of the interviewees have been shot, others have seen the lives of strangers, friends, and family members devastated by shootings. Hunting accidents, unintentional shootings, and suicide are other aspects of the issue that are addressed. Though there is a bit of repetition, the stories clearly bear the stamp of each teen's individual reality, including those who seem, in turn, naive, overtly influenced by adults around them, and/or jaded. Atkin's often artful photographs personalize the tragedies of those who have suffered and reveal something of the hopes of teens to whom guns are seen as tools for good. Additional material includes Web-site postings, the text of the Second Amendment, etc. This book should be useful for students involved in the debate about guns in our culture as well as for those with a general interest in the subject.-Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Junior High School, Iowa City, IA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
With an eye to the reality that "[g]uns are a fact of life for young people growing up in the United States today," Atkin offers up the stories of 18 young people whose lives have intersected with guns in some way. Inner-city youths whose lives have been shattered by firearms share the pages with rural kids, for whom shooting is a positive part of their lives. The stories alternate, from the college woman who found confidence through shooting, to a boy who accidentally shot himself in the head, and so on. Although the author's intent is to present as balanced a look as possible, the very nature of the stories works against her: The tale of a former gang member who lost six loved ones by the age of 13 cannot help but be more compelling than the story of a girl who was a member of her college's shooting team. Also, the "pro-gun" voices have almost all been drawn from one shooting club and present a regrettable sameness of attitude and experience. Still, it's a thoughtful and worthy effort that takes both issue and readership seriously. (bibliography, related organizations) (Nonfiction. 12+)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060526610
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/13/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,449,759
  • Age range: 13 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Meet the Author

Photo © Kate Burkart

Writer and photographer S. Beth Atkin, is the author of Gunstories: Life-Changing Experiences with Guns, Voices from the Fields: Children of Migrant Farmworkers Tell Their Stories and Voices from the Streets: Young Former Gang Members Tell Their Stories. Included in the awards she has received are: ALA: Best Books for Young Adults; Hungry Mind Review; Children's Books of Distinction American Booksellers Association: Pick of the List; and Booklist: Editor's Choice. Her books are used nationally in schools, universities and libraries to help youth and adults understand more fully issues concerning violence, discrimination, firearm use and regulations teen pregnancy, language barriers, firearm use and regulations, gangs, child labor, and many family issues. She lectures nationwide about her books and these topics. Ms. Atkin's work has been utilized in radio, T.V., videos, plays and numerous book and magazine publications.

She was previously a visiting fellow at the Institute of International Studies, University of California, Berkeley and co-produced Connecting Students to the World which utilizes distinguished visitors who come to the university and connects them to inner city students through live web chat sessions. Her books are implemented in the program. Ms. Atkin was the bi-cultural curriculum editor at California State University, Monterey Bay, National Science Foundation project, utilizing the Internet to motivate Latino/Hispanic high school students in science courses.

Photo © Kate Burkart

Writer and photographer S. Beth Atkin, is the author of Gunstories: Life-Changing Experiences with Guns, Voices from the Fields: Children of Migrant Farmworkers Tell Their Stories and Voices from the Streets: Young Former Gang Members Tell Their Stories. Included in the awards she has received are: ALA: Best Books for Young Adults; Hungry Mind Review; Children's Books of Distinction American Booksellers Association: Pick of the List; and Booklist: Editor's Choice. Her books are used nationally in schools, universities and libraries to help youth and adults understand more fully issues concerning violence, discrimination, firearm use and regulations teen pregnancy, language barriers, firearm use and regulations, gangs, child labor, and many family issues. She lectures nationwide about her books and these topics. Ms. Atkin's work has been utilized in radio, T.V., videos, plays and numerous book and magazine publications.

She was previously a visiting fellow at the Institute of International Studies, University of California, Berkeley and co-produced Connecting Students to the World which utilizes distinguished visitors who come to the university and connects them to inner city students through live web chat sessions. Her books are implemented in the program. Ms. Atkin was the bi-cultural curriculum editor at California State University, Monterey Bay, National Science Foundation project, utilizing the Internet to motivate Latino/Hispanic high school students in science courses.

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Read an Excerpt

Gunstories

Life-Changing Experiences with Guns
By S. Atkin

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 S. Atkin
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060526602

Chapter One

Shooting Has Empowered Me

Merry Briski

The shooting sports often give young people a sense of purpose and an identity. They also can give girls and young women a feeling of safety and equality. While developing certain skills, young people can find that learning to shoot helps them in other areas of their lives.

Meredith Briski, twenty-one, is Caucasian and grew up in Hamilton, Ohio. She has been involved in the shooting sports and competitions for at least ten years and is now a certified shooting instructor.

My name is Merry Briski. I go to Bowling Green State University. I'm an English major, so I might go to grad school and hope to do something like publishing or teaching. I think I'm a very empowered person because my family has brought me up that way. But also shooting has empowered me, and I think learning to shoot has had a very strong impact on my life. I had never been good at anything competitive or athletic. It got to the point that I was so sure of losing and feeling bad about myself that I was shy even about flipping a coin. When I found that I was good at shooting a rifle, I felt validated. I finally had something that I could work hard at and prove myself.

I thinkthe first time I ever remember seeing a gun, I was about seven. My dad and I shot an air rifle in our basement. I was in third grade or fourth grade when my father bought an air pistol, and then shortly after that he bought a .22 pistol. [An air rifle is not a firearm. It uses compressed air to launch its projectiles, which are generally BBs or other small pellets.] We used to go to the Cincinnati Revolver Club and shoot that occasionally. I started out shooting once a week when I joined the 4-H Club, and then I joined the Junior NRA [National Rifle Association] League as well. So I was shooting on Monday and Wednesday nights, and then we started going on Saturdays so I could practice. My dad was with me every time I shot.

The 4-H Club was definitely more male, but I think the girls were treated rather specially because there weren't many of us and the advisors really liked us. They used to give us sort of preferential treatment, teased us, and treated us like daughters. They were really proud when we beat the boys. It is a lot of fun to beat them, and I was the best shot in our club for a couple of years, and that's a really, really good feeling. So shooting has made me feel I had the capability and the potential to excel in an atmosphere that's not necessarily feminine or someplace that women are traditionally accepted.

It's also been nice to have shooting in common with my younger sister, Jackie. We're very different people. I'm all dreamy and flowery and love good books, dresses, ballet, and stuff like baking and sewing. Jackie loves the military and search-and-rescue operations and cars and fishing and wants to be a Marine. But we both love shooting. I am proud of her. She's a fine shot, probably better than I am now. I'd say that going to camp every summer and shooting together at the 4-H Club kept our relationship from ever getting too distant, the way some of my friends' relationships with their siblings were. I'd say the people I currently like to shoot with the most are Jackie and, most of all, my dad. We have so much fun doing something together that we both like.

My dad loves to spend time with our family, but shooting was an activity that we had in common. I think we might have found other things, but the shooting sports demand so much time, energy, and focus. There were times when I felt like my dad and I were a team working toward the goal of my shooting better. So that really improved our relationship. The first time I shot better target than he did, I was a little horrified. But he was so proud of me that I began to enjoy it. I think our roles sort of shifted a little then. We were on equal terms in something for the first time. And I think we'll have shooting in common even as I get older. The thing about shooting is that it doesn't stop when you lose your athletic capabilities. I know men that are in their eighties, and they are some of the best shots out there. So it's a lifelong sport.

The first thing I think that the shooting sports taught me is a drive for excellence, and I guess it gave me confidence. Or at least, if I already had those in me, then it pulled them out and strengthened them. And shooting competitively helped me develop determination. I might have been able to develop determination and problem-solving skills through another sport or activity, but shooting was the activity that I was both good at and enjoyed.

My teachers -- like Hal and Roger, who coached me at summer camp and on the rifle team -- they've played the role of mentor and friend. I've learned from them how to attain the life that I want to live. They've taught me to be happy and to be an upright citizen, and they taught me problem-solving skills. I actually had a chance to put them into practice on the shooting range and solve my own problems. Once I learned this, I suddenly saw obstacles as less powerful than myself. I remember having that realization, and it was like flying. I felt so confident. Nothing could get me down. I really think that ability transferred over into my schoolwork at college. I was taking hard classes and sometimes it was discouraging. But I had already learned to react to challenges with determination and to find solutions to problems. So I was able to find success.

Continues...


Excerpted from Gunstories by S. Atkin Copyright © 2006 by S. Atkin. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


Foreword   David Kennedy     vii
Introduction     3
Shooting Has Empowered Me   Merry Briski     10
My Scar   Adam Galvan     22
AKA Deerslayer   Danielle Nuzom     32
Everything Changed   Lupe Ornelas   Elizabeth Tomas     42
Lead Bullet Study     50
Recent School Shootings     56
Both Sides   Sarah Davis     60
A Gun Took Away My Mom   Aushayla Brown     74
Pro-gun Mom   Maggie Heil   Rosie Heil     82
Take an Extended Holiday from Gun Violence     92
Ban Them Altogether   Niko Milonopoulos   Theo Milonopoulos     94
The Brady Bill     107
GunGirl   Cori Miller     108
When It Happens in Front of You   Jaime Conde     118
Gun Suicides     123
A Very Good Way of Growing Up   Todd Endsley     128
For Everyone I Love That Can't Be Here   Luz Santiago     138
Always Interested in Guns   Jackie Briski     152
Jackie's Words     161
Salinas Police Department NewsReleases     166
A Bullet Doesn't Have a Name   Victor Salgado     170
In the Middle   Sarah Downing   Shea Downing     182
Guns Ain't Right-They Can Ruin Your Life   Veronica Lopez     188
Perfection Is the Key   Jeff Naswadi     198
The Second Amendment     209
Then and Now   Gilbert Salinas   Lonnie Washington     210
Suggested Reading List     223
List of Organizations     228
Acknowledgments     238
Photo Captions     243
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