American Carnage:Shattering the Myths That Fuel Gun Violence, by Thomas Gabor and Fred Guttenberg (Mango Publishing Group, Coral Gables, Fl., 2023, 228 pages).
Book Review by Dennis Moore
View interview with co-author Thomas Gabor on the "Bookshelf" section with host Anat Tour by clicking here.
May 26, 2023 (San Diego) – Criminologist Tom Gabor and activist Fred Guttenberg, who lost his 14-year old daughter Jaime in the 2018 Parkland school shooting, team up to dismantle some of the leading myths on guns and gun violence in their groundbreaking book and treatise; American Carnage: Shattering the Myths That Fuel Gun Violence. Many of these myths have been promoted by the gun lobby to facilitate gun sales and normalize the presence of guns in American society.
Co-author Tom Gabor reiterates much about what is said in this book in a video above by Anat Tour, the host of the "Bookshelf" section of the East County Magazine. The interview by this excellent talent, Tour, can be viewed and listened to by clicking on the link above.
This extraordinary book resonates with me in a profound and personal way, for I am a survivor of gun violence myself, along with two of my sons, and in my more than 400 book reviews written, American Carnage has impacted my psyche more than any other. This book touches my heart and soul!
Mind you, this week marks the tragic and heartfelt anniversary of the numerous school children murdered in Uvalde, Texas, a day that will live in infamy in this country.
Using the most recent research and data, the authors take on beliefs, such as;
- Gun laws are recent inventions:
- Homes and schools with guns are safer;
- The Constitution affords an unlimited right to own a gun; and
- Guns don’t kill, people do.
I actually debunk many of these myths in my own “Reader’s Editorial” in the East County Magazine, particularly what it says about the 2nd Amendment, and I am in line with the authors’ thinking.
Of the numerous myths in this thoroughly and well documented book by the authors, the one that stands out to me is; “Myth 8: Guns Make Women Safer.” There is a belief that a gun will protect women from men who prey on them. Guns are viewed by some as a great equalizer, as they are said to compensate for the smaller physical stature of women.
Fact Check: When we examine violence against women, it quickly becomes apparent that most violence against women is committed in private by male partners rather than in public spaces by strangers. Over nine in ten of women who are murdered are killed by men they know, and the majority of those men are intimate partners. Guns are the weapon used in more than half of all killings of women. Given that much violence against women is committed by intimate partners, guns kept by women in the home may be used against them. So says the authors of this well researched and documented book, Tom Gabor and Fred Guttenberg!
The authors further state in American Carnage, in regard to Myth 8: Guns Make Women Safer, which is revealing: “Christy Salters Martin is a professional boxer and the owner of a concealed carry permit. But when she attempted to leave her husband, she was shot with her own gun. Today, she cautions other women against making the same mistake.”
The authors recently had a promotional tour of the White House, perhaps to drum up support for an “Assault Weapons Ban”, as was orchestrated by Jay Inslee the Governor of the state of Washington and in my hometown of Chicago. While at the White House, the authors took pictures with Senator Shumer and Nancy Pelosi, among others, holding their book American Carnage. I sincerely believe that a federal Assault Weapons Ban is on the horizon, and it is much needed.
Another myth in this thought provoking book is “Myth 9: Arming Teachers Will Make Schools Safer.” Following the slaughter of students and school staff at both Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, there were calls by the NRA to arm teachers. Wayne LaPierre’s oft-repeated slogan, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” was first said by him after the Newtown shooting. The NRA went on to use the Newtown mass shooting to push for additional gun sales, and they have been successful. After the Parkland mass shooting, Florida passed a law allowing school districts to train and arm school staff.
Fact Check: Gabor and Guttenberg states in American Carnage; “The recitation of LaPierre’s slogan in the aftermath of these slaughters of our young is in our view cynical, offensive, and unsupported by empirical evidence. It is also as illogical to suggest that increasing the volume of guns will reduce gun violence as it is to make opioids more accessible as a way of addressing the opioid crisis.” I could not have said it any better!
In the case of Parkland, had the on-campus armed law enforcement officer taken action and done something, perhaps he could have reduced the carnage, but he would not have been able to stop it. Perhaps Jaime Guttenberg, who was killed on the third floor, the second to last or thirty-third person to be shot, could have been saved. But how many would still have been killed or wounded? While we will never know, our second author Fred Guttenberg has seen the photos and videos of the shooting in progress; he has seen the chaos they captured. If panicked and armed teachers had been shooting into the running crowds of students trying to get to safety, more people might in fact have been ended up being shot.
Dr. Grant H. Geissler, the doctor at Children Memorial Hospital in Chicago who operated on and saved my son Damien’s life when he was 11-years old, after being shot through the back and losing his spleen, is pictured here.
I recall two Chicago policeman coming to my home and telling me that both my sons had been shot, Damien at 11 and Darius at 16. It was a parent’s worst nightmare. I recall getting into my car driving on the curb and through the lights, crying and praying to God that if He spared my son I would do anything for Him.
I get to the hospital and talked to Dr. Geissler, who told me that Damien would live, but that he had lost his spleen, and that he would have to take penicillin for the rest of his life. I recall going to see Damien in Intensive Care (ICU), with tubes in him and his face swollen up. He survived, and it is a memory that I will never forget, something that I wish had occurred for Fred Guttenberg!
Damien survived to the extent, that he became a star athlete in high school, being selected as “Athlete of the Month” at Hoffman Estates High School, with his picture posted on the walls at the high school, due to his achievements in wrestling and gymnastics. Now, some 25 years later he and I have regular video chat conversations with each other.
My 16 year old son Darius, who was less seriously hurt, although shot in the foot, recovered from that traumatic incident as they were coming from seeing the movie together some 25 years ago. The three of us were all together this past September, relishing in our good fortune and Blessing. Mind you, I was shot myself some 41 years ago on the Southside of Chicago, and felt the life coming out of me, I was dying! To look at the attached picture of me after we all had been shot and lived to talk about it, is truly a Blessing! We three probably would have all died if we had been shot with the AR-15 that Jamie Guttenberg had been shot with. God certainly has something more in store for us, as I joined the Prison Ministry in Chicago, and would later become the President of the Bethel A.M.E. Prison Ministry in San Diego.
I want to do all I can to honor Jamie Guttenberg, and all-others in this senseless shooting throughout our country, by helping to pass an “Assault Weapons Ban”! Evidently Oprah Winfrey wants to do the same, as indicated in the attached picture and pronouncement by her. This certainly contrasts with the pictured members of Congress and their families brandishing assault weapons.
Dennis Moore has been the Associate Editor of the East County Magazine in San Diego and the book review editor for SDWriteway, an online newsletter for writers in San Diego that has partnered with the East County Magazine, along with being the former President of the Bethel A.M.E. Prison Ministry in San Diego, as well as an author of a book about Chicago politics. Mr. Moore can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on Twitter at: @DennisMoore8.