Gun Crusaders

The NRA’s Culture War

336 pages

September, 2012

ISBN: 9780814764503

$24

Paper

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Author

Scott Melzer is Associate Professor of Sociology and Chair of the Department of Anthropology & Sociology at Albion College.

All books by Scott Melzer

Gun Crusaders is a fascinating inside look at how the four-million member National Rifle Association and its committed members come to see each and every gun control threat as a step down the path towards gun confiscation, and eventually socialism. Enlivened by a rich analysis of NRA materials, meetings, leader speeches, and unique in-depth interviews with NRA members, Gun Crusaders focuses on how the NRA constructs and perceives threats to gun rights as one more attack in a broad liberal cultural war. Scott Melzer shows that the NRA promotes a nostalgic vision of frontier masculinity, whereby gun rights defenders are seen as patriots and freedom fighters, defending not the freedom of religion, but the religion of individual rights and freedoms.

Reviews

  • "The author argues a very credible thesis: that the National Rifle Association (NRA) is more than a single-interest group defending the right to own and bear arms. The NRA should also be understood as a social movement organization dedicated broadly to preserving traditional, conservative values."

    Choice

  • “Melzer brilliantly integrates deep personal observation with data and theory to construct a three-dimensional portrait of the modern gun rights movement. In a wonderfully written, engaging, and scrupulously fair narrative, Melzer’s book makes a major contribution to our understanding of this tumultuous social movement and also happens to be a really good read. It's fresh, clear-eyed, and fair. Anyone wanting to understand the gun movement must read this book.”

    —Robert J. Spitzer, author of The Politics of Gun Control

  • “Melzer takes us inside the NRA to reveal that more than gun control—much more—is at stake: a way of life and a definition of manhood that members feel is disintegrating in their hands... [This is] a book that is both balanced and brave, critical and yet compassionate to men who have so lost their way that their guns offer their last tenuous hold on their identity.”

    —Michael Kimmel, author of Guyland

  • "This book is well written, and raises interesting issues about the transformation of interest groups in a period of polarized politics."

    —Clyde Wilcox, Political Science Quarterly