Friday, January 25, 2013

Stephen King on Guns

I took some time to read Stephen King's essay "Guns" which costs ninety-nine cents on Amazon or is free to borrow if you have a Kindle and a Prime account. It is good. King can turn a phrase and I think he is best when writing nonfiction. This is no knock on his fiction, but his nonfiction voice sounds just right in my ear. I can't get enough.

The essay was something he finished writing last Friday and got out through Amazon today. That's a fast turn around for an industry which usually takes a year to turn around a book. Still, it strikes me as odd that it takes even that long to put out a digital Amazon Single. If you really want to turn stuff out quickly these days, it's a simple matter. I'll post this lowly blog entry within an hour of finishing the draft. Maybe it takes time to set up the means to make a buck on it. Stephen King should make a lot of bucks off this one, though at his level it's likely a drop in a very large bucket.

I don't usually shill here, but read the essay if you have the time and the means. King presents a reasoned argument for reasonable gun control that pretty much follows what President Obama has suggested. Like the President, he's not suggesting all guns be rounded up. He happily admits to owning three handguns and understands the importance of the Second Amendment.

Being a writer, I would expect King to prefer the First Amendment and expected him to make the argument so many others have: that we have no guarantee of complete freedom of speech. There's the old "fire in a crowded movie theater" example (not to be confused with Steve Martin's movie in a crowded firehouse). That's where I expected King to go, but he went elsewhere.

A book of may have been an accelerant for several shootings. He doesn't blame the book or himself for the gunmen's actions, but when he heard that his book was involved, he had it pulled from shelves.

That a writer would pull a book is a big deal. The book wasn't an especially big seller and King is pretty wealthy. However, as a writer, I know that putting words out into the world is a wondrous thing. It is the joy of what I do. To pull any of them back is a tough deal, not something any writer takes lightly.

King says that he pulled the book because it was the right thing to do. From there he bridges into the idea that background checks are necessary, massive clips and magazines are not (his line about Eight is Enough is great), and assault weapons such as the Bushmaster and the AR-15 should be banned.

These ideas bring howls from the NRA leadership and others, no surprise. Regardless, they are reasonable ideas that reasonable people ought to discuss. King is reasoned and reasonable. Reading his essay helped me better understand my own thinking. I recommend it to any of you. Go get it.

Stephen King, write on.