Stephen King’s New Kindle Single on Guns: More of an Original Mind Trip Than a Rant

Stephen-King--with-Kindle-001I finished Stephen King’s Kindle Single, Guns, over lunch. It’s a highly original take on the debate over gun control, so I don’t think it was fair of me to dismiss it in the previous post as a “rant.” Some of the writing is excessively voiced, in my opinion, but the case he makes rests on considerable research and thought.

The most unforgettable part of King’s essay is how he came to terms with the impact of a novel that he wrote in high school. When he realized that Getting It On, later retitled Rage, had been found in the locker of a 14-year-old shooter who in 1997 killed three and wounded five at a high school in Paducah, Kentucky, King asked his publishers to pull the novel from publication. His youthful novel concerned a troubled boy with a domineering father, and in the novel the boy ends up taking a gun to school and killing his algebra teacher. But King never apologized for writing Rage. He puts it this way in Guns:

No sir, no ma’am, I never did and never would. It took more than one slim novel to cause Cox, Pierce, Loukaitis, and Carneal to do what they did. These were unhappy boys with deep psychological problems, boys who were bullied at school and bruised at home by parental neglect or outright abuse.

King comes out where you would expect, supporting background checks for gun purchasers, a ban on sale of clips and magazines containing more than 10 rounds, and a ban on the sale of assault weapons such as the Bushmaster and the AR-15. But the path of his argument takes the reader places you have probably never been before.

My favorite is his magic-wand wish, if he were granted one for the U.S, described as follows: “Every liberal in the country must watch Fox News for one year, and every conservative in the country must watch MSNBC for one year.” He says middle-of-the-roaders could stick with CSI. The results of this imagined reordering of news sources, King posits, might be a period of grumbling readjustment during which viewers would realize the networks they hated actually had some non-political news on them. After that, he imagines,

…viewers might begin seeing different anchors and commentators, as each news network’s fringe bellowers attracted increasing flak from their new captive audiences….Finally, the viewers themselves might change. Not a lot; just a slide-step or two away from the kumbayah socialists of the left and the Tea Partiers of the right. I’m not saying they’d re-colonize the all-but-deserted middle (lot of cheap real estate there, my brothers and sisters), but they might close in on it a trifle.

You can almost see the mind of Stephen King growing that seed of an idea into a much longer story. What would it be like if people really did switch news sources for a year? His essay released today as a 99-cent Kindle Single makes you think, as does most everything else he’s written in a long and unrepeatable career.

Send to Kindle

Comments 6

  1. Robert Owens wrote:

    81 didn’t make me think . . . well, I guess it did; it made me think I squandered $2.99.

    I am considering purchasing Guns. I am intrigued by it, but then I think, isn’t this pretty much a blog post? Folks don’t pay me $0.99 for my posts. Perhaps I am not as talented as King, but then again, was this even edited? Back and forth I go.

    Thanks for the review . . .

    Posted 25 Jan 2013 at 6:30 pm
  2. Len Edgerly wrote:

    Robert, that’s a valid point. Guns is only 25 pages. I suppose one could buy it, read it, and if the price didn’t seem fair you could return it for a refund. I actually felt as if it was worth the 99 cents, but I’m still working off Amazon gift-card credits from Christmas, so everything feels sort of free for a while.

    Posted 25 Jan 2013 at 6:33 pm
  3. f wrote:

    Thanks for the review. I’m bothered a little by celebs and the thought that somehow their opinions matter … except in this case Rage makes it interesting. I have bought this single, and am a few pages in. The first glaring issue is encountered quickly at location 35. The Bushmaster was not used. It was found in the trunk.

    Posted 25 Jan 2013 at 6:48 pm
  4. Len Edgerly wrote:

    Good catch. Thanks for pointing that out.

    Posted 25 Jan 2013 at 7:01 pm
  5. Stephen S wrote:

    Guns is Free to Loan for Amazon Prime Members through the Lending Library (one per month club)

    Posted 27 Jan 2013 at 11:50 pm
  6. Stephen S wrote:

    @f.- false the AR 15 was the primary “weapon used in the Sandy Hook shooting as shown on a CNN news conference I watched. the handgun was used to shoot himself for the suicide. the news wrongly stated the AR was found in the trunk which was later refuted by the police in a news conference.

    Posted 27 Jan 2013 at 11:54 pm