Under Fire

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Overview

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 ...
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Overview

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 unrestricted firearms seems to be of paramount concern, Under Fire offers true insight into one of our nation's most pressing concerns.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Neither an expose nor a polemic, this book bogs down in description while stinting on hard analysis. Davidson Broken Heartland: The Rise of America's Rural Ghetto intersperses several set pieces--on the 1988 schoolyard massacre in Stockton, Calif., the 1986 congressional debate over the McClure-Volkmer Bill and the workings of a Washington, D.C., emergency room--with a fair-minded history of the National Rifle Association. Davidson looks critically at some of the NRA's broad-brush critics, suggesting that neither side gives ``any credence to the claims of the other.'' He observes that the NRA is ``neither the Evil Empire its foes claim nor the superpatriotic defender of the most cherished American values it claims to be.'' But only in the epilogue does he address important policy questions such as the role of handguns in self-defense and sociological analysis such as of the urban-rural cultural roots of the gun control debate. His conclusion that the epidemic of gun violence must be addressed demands a more rigorous foundation. Apr.
Library Journal
This detailed history of that politically powerful and often feared lobby, the National Rifle Association NRA, examines the organization's current troubles and its declining influence with elected officials and leadership in the police community. The publisher claims that the book is ``nonpartisan'' but also provides a statement of praise from gun control advocate Sarah Brady. Davison has carefully researched his topic. His book is journalistic in style yet compares favorably with the best on this subject, such as James D. Wright and Peter H. Rossi's Armed and Considered Dangerous Aldine de Gruyter, 1986 and Franklin Zimring and Gordon Hawkins's The Citizen's Guide to Gun Control LJ 7/87. Davidson's study brings the debate up to date. Highly recommended for any collection that has either of the aforementioned books.-- John Broderick, Stonehill Coll., North Easton, Mass.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805032109
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/1/1994
  • Pages: 318

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Pt. I The Rise of the NRA
Ch. 1 The Stockton Lesson 3
Ch. 2 The Early Years 20
Ch. 3 One of the Great Religions of the World 37
Pt. II Cracks in the Empire
Ch. 4 The Bullet and the Badge 85
Ch. 5 A War in the Streets 115
Ch. 6 Holding Actions 128
Ch. 7 Enemies Within and Without 159
Pt. III Gun Wars
Ch. 8 Drums Along the Potomac 193
Ch. 9 First Blood 219
Ch. 10 Palace Coup 237
Ch. 11 Operation St. Joseph 243
Ch. 12 The Last Battle 258
Epilogue 272
Selected Bibliography 285
Index 297
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