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Unloaded (courtesy

“If we can’t get guns out of our cities, let’s at least get them out of our crime stories,” Ron Charles at writes. “That seems to be the idea behind a curious anthology called ‘Unloaded: Crime Writers Writing Without Guns.’ Among the two-dozen contributors are Joyce Carol Oates, Reed Farrel Coleman, Alison Gaylin, Joe Lansdale and Kelli Stanley. Together they offer plenty of deaths by hammers, subways, knives and (of course) insane clowns — but no firearms.” Now the way I read it . . .

The book makes an excellent case for firearms. It highlights the fact that civilian disarmament would do nothing to stop potentially lethal violence. But that’s not the editor and author Eric Beetner’s intent.

“I was feeling a little conflicted in my own writing, feeling that I was glorifying everything that I stand against,” Beetner says from Los Angeles, where he works as a TV editor. Sensing a similar conflict in other crime and thriller writers, he decided to reach out and see if they could assemble an anthology that removes guns from the creative equation. “I thought, ‘What if we banned together and made a statement that even those of us who do glorify these things in certain ways, we also want it to be known that in the real world, we advocate a little more reason and sense?’”

I wasn’t aware that crime and thriller writers were “glorifying” firearms-related homicide. Although I’m sure they exist, I can’t remember reading a single example of the genre where the author glorified a bad guy shooting a good guy.

On the other hand, I’ve read hundreds of books where the author “glorified” a good guy shooting a bad guy. And I’ve got no problem with that. Why should I? To his credit, WaPo writer Charles sees the problem with painting this anthology as anti-gun agitprop (paraphrasing).

If not overtly, then certainly implicitly, this is a pro-gun-control collection, but ironically, it seems to confirm the old NRA bumper sticker: “Guns Don’t Kill People. People Kill People.” But Beetner says that slogan rings hollow. “It doesn’t speak to the 5-year-old who gets the gun out of the cabinet and shoots his sibling or himself. There are so many examples of gun violence that exist strictly because guns are so freely available.”

None of which are in his book, methinks. Which doesn’t really matter, but goes to show how little intellectual firepower went into this collection. A lack of rigor that Mr. Charles also displays with his conclusion.

. . . there’s no getting around this grim note in the introduction to “Unloaded”:

“During the time it took to put this book together, more than a dozen mass shootings took place, including killings in schools, churches and movie theaters.”

I can get around it. Easily. You?

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    • The sooner I realized that Hollywood is happy to engage in every kind of hypocrisy in the name of $$$, the sooner I stopped giving them money.

        • I don’t have satellite or cable. I have DVD’s which I buy from used stores. hollywood gets no support from me.

      • “The sooner I realized that Hollywood is happy to engage in every kind of hypocrisy in the name of $$$, the sooner I stopped giving them money.”

        Hollywood is one of the best friends the 2A has.

        Every movie where evil is stopped by a ‘Good guy with a gun’, proves our point that a gun is simply a tool. (Most) every FPS video game reinforces that point in spades.

        I encourage those Hollywood film producers to not have guns in their movies, I’ll happily spend money on those that do.

        Let ’em talk the talk. Let’s see them walk the walk and put their money where their mouth is.

        Their target audience are young adults, when they realize the kids won’t be lining up to see movies like ‘On Golden Pond’, they will wilt like the Viagra has worn off…

    • If Hollywood made no movies with guns in them, fewer and fewer people would go to the movies. Hollywood would lose mega-millions in revenue.

      RF’s reported observation this book only goes to prove that “people kill people” is true and it is hard to fathom how this escapes so many in the anti-gun crowd, but there you have it…they just hate guns. Try to envision a scenario where two people determined to harm one another could not do so in the absence of any object or tool to use. It gets ridiculous.

        • Interesting article. The skull of the “murder victim” is dated to 430,000 years ago and stone weapons are dated to 3.4 million years ago. I am not sure how the archaeologists determined that person was “murdered”, but since firearms were developed around 800 years ago, this “unknown hominid” was definitely not killed by a firearm. However, a stone tipped spear, battle ax, or dagger-like tool made of antler or bone is possible.

          My point was to say that in the absence of any weapon, tool or external object, a determined human is perfectly capable of killing another human with their naturally-equipped body parts, and the only way to prevent that is if the killer literally cannot touch their intended victim physically. From that perspective we can conclude the volition to kill originates within the killer and does not have to depend upon the killer possessing a weapon, tool, or other external object to make the kill.

          Enjoyed the article you cited, but not sure what your point was.

    • It’s even worse than that- they do a lot of filming up here in Canada, and they bring guns up here which are prohibited for the average person to do it. When they’re done filming, some of those guns end up walking off the set and into the lairs of various criminals. It’s enough of a problem that the RCMP detail it as a significant source of crime guns in Canada. In 2012, in Toronto, 43% of all guns recovered in crimes were prohibited firearms.

    • Why is that too bad? They undermine their political message every time they show a good guy with a gun (which they do frequently).

      What really annoys me are movies like The Equalizer, with Denzel Washington, where the hero deliberately handicaps himself by using a wide variety of “creative” methods to off his opponents, when shooting them would have been much simpler and more effective. There is a certain type of Hollywood movie hero depiction that seems to view shooting a bad guy as “cheating” or “lowering yourself to their level.”

      If Hollywood chose to exclusively show these unrealistic super-commandos mowing through armies of gun-wielding mercenaries with household supplies and the contents of the Lowe’s hardware department, that is what would send the wrong message: that a disarmed populace actually has a reasonable chance of fighting back against enemies with guns.

  1. Are you trying to tell me that people can kill people without using guns? The mind boggles! Next thing you know, you’re gonna tell me that a man in India just murdered 14 people with a knife. That’s unpossible!

    FYI, the best mysteries usually involve poison (preferable untraceable), strangulation (ligation or manual), drowning (preferably in a bathtub or a backyard pool), asphyxiation (plastic bags are the means of choice) and other “nonviolent” murders.

  2. Sounds like a potential backfire in progress. Again, like that stupid MDA vid where the hulking male fairly effortlessly breaks in the terrified lady’s door, even before his gun is introduced into the situation, everyone but the hopelessly delusional “true believers” saw that her goose was cooked, and HER only chance at that point was to have been armed herself. Anything that helps people realize/remember that violence takes many forms and murder is murder, whether or not a gun is involved, will not be good for the grabbers

    • The real issue is WOULD the psychotic clown kill you anywhere with a candlestick or other weapon if you had a reliable firearm available to protect yourself from him/her/It?

      The thing missing from most Hollywood depictions of criminal behavior is the effective armed response of the intended victim(s). Such responses would tend to make most of these productions much less dramatic and have run times of about fifteen minutes, unless they include the courtroom drama where the prosecutor tries to convict the intended victim of manslaughter or murder.

      While Law & Order leans toward the Hollywood stereotype regarding guns (most murders in New York involving pistols appear to be accomplished by a single shot from either .22 or .25 caliber pistols, according to their writers), I did see an episode recently where the two detectives were in a Mexican stand-off with the perp who was holding an old woman as a shield. To everyone’s surprise, especially mine, the clerk in the store retrieved his revolver from under the counter and shot the Bad Guy in he back, killing him. To my greater surprise this shooting was not the continuing theme of the plot and was never again mentioned in the story line! A rare, but appreciated, event.

  3. Never heard of him before this thread and I doubt I would ever read a fake crime novel written by him or any other crime writer that removes reality from their stories.

  4. “I thought, ‘What if we banned together and made a statement that even those of us who do glorify these things in certain ways, we also want it to be known that in the real world, we advocate a little more reason and sense?’”

    “Banned together” This is from an editor as well? It’s banded. Although, banned together is an adequate description of what they’re doing. They’re banning firearms from their books…together.

  5. Wonder if they will ever have an “aha!” moment where they realize there are still plenty of ways for evil people to kill others? Yeah probably not, at least not publicly.

  6. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. And Cain slew Abel without a gun. Surprise!

  7. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. And Cain slew Abel without a gun. Surprise!
    Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous.
    You mean people kill people regardless of method available?

    • Cain killed Abel with a rock. Today we’re doing exactly the same thing for exactly the same reason, only the rock is smaller and propelled with greater force unto the same conclusion. When guns are banned, rocks will still kill quite effectively.

  8. I feel like a professional “writer” should know the difference between banned and banded. Unless that was a Freudian slip on WaPos part concerning guns

  9. Books? It’s like saying “we’ll stop drunk driving by removing their buggy whips!” Besides, murder was worse in the 60’s and 70’s, when decent numbers of people actually read these trashy novels. Could be trashy pulp fiction like this inspired the serial killers of the time. If you will recall, their preferred method was typically strangulation.

  10. Eric Beetner and his fellow progbots think fiction is just a vehicle for their social-justice prescriptions. Fortunately for us (both gun owners and the reading public), the harder they push, the fewer readers they’ll reach. People read because they want to experience good stories, not because they want to be bludgeoned by someone else’s politics.

  11. Like jwm says. I dnt get sat r cable, well cuz I live n a cave. Dont kno what jwm”s cuse is. But unlike u jwm I dont rent videos either. Knives, clubs, rocks n bones, knees elbows fingers n toes. Whats the big deal bout killn? Me , Im kinda tired of killn.And hey Luke, iffen we cant figure out what yah rote cuz yah spelled it rong, thats on our stupidity.; I just hayte everythins gotta be so damned correct.yah no…oh b.s. on murder n the 70’s–80’s. My sister n girlfriend hitch hiked 140 miles to see a rolling stones concert in K.C. u try that now theyd a been raped n a ditch. Very few people carried guns back then. …..n Bob Dylan sings “these times are a changing.”

  12. Oh scuse me it 60’s–70’s not 80’s. Yeh the 60″s was kinda rough. Still tho I could crash n a roadside park n not be fcked with. I would have dire reservations to try sleeping in a roadside park now. Sure as shit somebody would be fcking with u, be it law or miscreants, however u spell it . Miscreeants,…..people up to no good.

  13. Even more dead Hannibal’s army at battle of Cannae killed 60 000 Romans in one day with swords
    Not exceded until the Somme in WW1

    Antis seem to never know history or the consequences of being unarmed. Or they hope no one else does I can’t understand them

  14. The mythical 5 year old shooting his brother. Which only happens 70 times per year in the USA. Compare that with 700 accidental drownings and 1700 accidental poisonings of children each year.

    • Yep. The CDC Web site has a nice graph showing the number of people killed by different means. Real “youths” (under 14 Y/O) die by accident in greater numbers by every others means, than by accidental gun fire..

      Drownings in bath tubs, buckets and pools; poisoning by drinking cleaning fluids under the sink, bicycles, skate boards, cars and trucks; being killed by accidental gun fire is the least likely way for a child to be killed in the US, in a nation of over 300 million people, with over 300 million firearms.

      More people are accidently killed by lightening in a years time than children are accidently killed by guns.

      We should outlaw people going outside during a thunderstorm, after all “if saves just one life”. it’s worth it. It’s only common sense.

  15. Dogme 95 also had “no guns” as part of its credo, but more as a hedge against laziness and the tendency to follow a Hollywood formula. The idea was not to demonize guns, but to craft stories that didn’t revolve around drug deals gone bad or killers on their last assignment. As an artistic exercise, it would be a worthy challenge. (Of course, none of the Dogme 95 films were “crime stories.”)

    But if a dedicated pacifist “feels conflicted” writing crime stories, instead of just removing guns, why not try a story where the good guy solves problems with intervention and nonviolence? Show us the placard is good but the gun is evil.There’s a literary challenge not many authors have taken up.

  16. Was he trying to make a play on words when asking “maybe if we all BANNED together…” instead of saying band together?

  17. Makes me think of Stephen King. And all the stupid passive-aggressive feels he has toward guns.
    I don’t miss reading his stuff much, though. He kinda went to shit toward the end of Dark Tower anyway. I think him getting hurt just expedited the process.

  18. Where’s the story of the little old lady who had approximately zero chance of surviving an encounter with a violent felon without a handgun to equalize things a bit?

  19. Does anyone (other than me, ofc) else find it the height of irony that a supposedly professional writer says, and I quote: “What if we banned together and made a statement”?
    Just FYI, there is a difference between the word “banned” and the word “band”, just as there is between “your” and “you’re”. Although no one in the world but me seems to be aware of that….

  20. It is obvious that authors have a problem with guns. As in, they don’t know a damned thing about them. Every one of them, even the best, births another clanger every time they type events involving guns (you see what I did there, “typing”, not “writing”). I was enjoying a Bernie Gunther novel (Phillip Kerr) when a Walther P38 suddenly turned out to be a .38. This was corrected in a later chapter, but the damage was done.

    Also, this project must have been plagued by writer’s block, or serious contractual negotiations, for it to have taken so long as to have been overtaken by all manner of mass shootings.

    Obviously most gun related problems could be avoided by situating the drama in another setting than the USA. In my country of New Zealand, we are forbidden to carry weapons for self defense. As in, go straight to jail forbidden. We are required to rely on our native wit, charm and dazzling good looks for self protection. Luckily I have been well blessed in all these departments, so I feel safe. The greatest dangers in NZ are foreign tourists (we drive on the left, due to our British background) and drowning on the beach in summer. Neither of these perils would be helped by carrying a gun. I would like to see some novels written here featuring the sudden demise of several notable local politicians. They wouldn’t be missed. One could practice on them until you get it right. No guns required. All authors welcome here.

  21. Okay. I was going to roll my eyes and toss off an observation about how John D. McDonald just couldn’t resist having his iconic boat bum con artist detective toss off a it of anti-gun agitprop in a scene, but then this caught my eye:

    “hammers, subways, knives and (of course) insane clowns”

    You had me at subways and insane clowns. 🙂

    Now I just have know how you can bludgeon someone to death with a subway and an insane clown.

  22. If they were glorifying homicides by firearm before, aren’t they now glorifying homicide by hammers, subways, knives and insane clowns? Hopefully not too many insane clowns, I’d hate for them to constitute a posse.

  23. So, you all are commenting on a book you haven’t even read?

    Should anyone that stupid be allowed to carry a gun?


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