“A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”—Mark Twain
Canada’s leading newspapers, including The Globe and Mail and The National Post, recently gave sympathetic reviews to a book by A.J. Somerset that portrayed American gun culture as racist and paranoid. In his book, Arms: The Culture and Credo of the Gun, Somerset’s approach to American gun culture is to search for what he calls “the Wellspring of Crazy.” As he says, “This is the gun culture I am after in this book: the weird stuff.” Somerset dissects movie dialogues and relates juicy newspaper stories to paint a picture of Americans as driven by unreasonable fears to buy guns, or worse, as merely using their fear to excuse racist violence. He claims he is searching for cultural myths but his approach seems more like an excuse to rant than a serious attempt to understand actual cultural norms.