Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Robert Sherrill's Saturday Night Special

My friend Nicholas Johnson writes about a book that is now largely forgotten: Robert Sherill's Saturday Night Special (1973);
I just dusted off an entertaining screed from 1973 written by former Washington Post reporter Robert Sherrill. Although you can gather it from his credential as a Posty, the prodigious title of the book better signals his views on the “so-called” right to keep and bear arms. To wit: The Saturday Night Special: And Other Guns With Which Americans Won The West, Protected Bootleg Franchises, Slew Wildlife, Robbed Countless Banks, Shot Husbands Purposely And By Mistake And Killed Presidents – Together With The Debate Over Continuing Same.  Absent from Sherrill’s list is any suggestion of the utility of firearms for legitimate self-defense.

The book is a vivid reflection of the times, urging confidently the states’ rights view of the Second Amendment that today not a single member of the United States Supreme Court attempts to prop up. But enough nostalgia.
 I agree with Professor Johnson's take on Sherrill's book: it is profoundly hostile to gun ownership and gun culture, but honest enough to recognize that gun control is fundamentally impossible in a free society.  Sherrill is also honest enough to admit that the Gun Control Act of 1968 wasn't passed to disarm criminals, but to disarm poor black people -- and as a result, managed to accomplish neither.

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