Cover image for Women & guns : politics and the culture of firearms in America
Women & guns : politics and the culture of firearms in America
Homsher, Deborah, 1952-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Armonk, N.Y. : M.E. Sharpe, [2001]

Physical Description:
ix, 246 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HV7436 .H65 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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This timely and provocative book looks at contemporary American women and their experiences with guns. Scrupulously balanced, this new paperback edition features a new appendix containing a wealth of primary source documents that help illuminate both the dangers and attractions of guns in our society.

Author Notes

Deborah Homsher graduated from Brown University and received an M.F.A. in fiction writing from the Writer's Workshop at the University of Iowa. She was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in fiction writing at Stanford University and in 1990 received a Fellowship in Nonfiction Literature from the New York Foundation for the Arts

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In the gun-control debate, Homsher argues, it's not simply guns that are at issue, and focusing on women and guns clarifies other values and meanings that polarize opinions. Homsher first reviews frontier stories, examining both the experiences of women on the American frontier and folkloric male frontier heroes, often wedded to guns but not to wives, families, and responsibilities. She meets with women hunters, interrogating the impact of gender on nonhunters' easy stereotypes. In two chapters, Homsher addresses self-defense, exploring the objectives of women who advocate concealed-carry laws, and the disagreement between conservative and liberal women about whether defense is needed against "the feral stranger, (or) the outwardly respectable, familiar batterer." She talks with women who participate in gun sports and militias, and with African American women from neighborhoods where guns are all too omnipresent. In all her journeys, Homsher aims to redirect the debate, to move beyond the "talking points" of both pro-and anti-gun campaigners, to demonstrate that "partisan, gendered, politicized discourses serve (only) to camouflage central issues and to polarize discussion." --Mary Carroll

Library Journal Review

"This book," declares Homsher (From Blood to Verdict: Three Women on Trial), "is about American women in the 1990's, their experiences with guns, and their responses to the national public debates about guns and violence." Through interviews with average citizens, gun and anti-gun activists, and such well-known women as former Texas governor Ann Richards, and Tanya Metaksa, spokesperson for the NRA, the author provides a full picture of guns in women's lives. Anecdotes and discussions cover hunting, target shooting, militias, domestic violence, gun accidents, children and guns, and murder. Homsher touches on the interplay of national and local politics as well as "masculine organizations and their feminine constituents." Many of the wide-ranging viewpoints are interesting and will be unfamiliar. This work complements Mary Zeiss Stange and Carol K. Oyster's Gun Women: Firearms and Feminism in Contemporary America (New York Univ. Pr., 2000), which examines the relationship of gun-owning women to their weapons and the politics of women and guns. Homsher's book will be of interest to specialized researchers in women's studies and criminal justice policy. [For another look at this topic, see Encyclopedia of Women and Crime, LJ 11/15/00.DEd.]DMary Jane Brustman, SUNY at Albany Libs. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

The debate over guns and gun violence has permeated every facet of American social and political life. With the exception, however, of high-profile women such as National Rifle Association (NRA) spokeswoman Tanya Metaksa or the coverage given to singular events like the recent Million Mom March, women have not taken center stage in the debates. Homsher addresses that national oversight. By concentrating her study on "average" women on both sides of the gun control controversy and on high-profile public figures, Homsher offers a nuanced, if not always balanced, account of guns in women's lives. In fact, the book's greatest strength--recording women's stories in their own voices--may be its most telling weakness. Until the very last chapter, Homsher's sympathies seem to lie squarely with the women active in gun clubs, NRA chapters, and even local militia groups. Pro-gun-control views are reported less empathetically or perhaps simply less colorfully, and it comes as a surprise in t he conclusion when Homsher situates herself on the liberal end of the political spectrum. In spite of this shortcoming, the book is a worthy addition to academic library collections. E. Broidy University of California, Los Angeles

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Meeting
Chapter 2 American Stories
Chapter 3 Fields Near Home
Chapter 4 Self-Defense Part I: Combat by Story and Statistics
Chapter 5 Self-Defense, Part II: Looking for the Bad Guys
Chapter 6 Gun Games and Homegrown Rebellion
Chapter 7 In the Cities, on the Edge
Chapter 8 Conclusion
Author's Note to Appendix
Appendix: Primary Source Documents
About the Author