Stephen King Strays From the Horror Genre With ‘Guns’…or Does He?

February 20, 2013

Most of the public is familiar with author Stephen King thanks to his voluminous body of fiction novels in the horror genre, although readers of Entertainment Weekly no doubt still miss “Uncle Stevie’s” pop culture review column. With ‘Guns’, his audio book essay on gun violence, he mixes the two milieus, after a fashion. Although the narrative is nothing like his familiar novels, it cannot be denied that there is an element of horror at work in any discussion of people perpetrating violent and deadly crimes against one another, and he deftly uses his linguistic prowess, honed from years of writing, to craft this dialogue on a pressing issue for many Americans. His words may be brought to life with the hearty exuberance afforded by gravel-voiced narrator Christian Rummel, but it is King’s staccato phrasing and forceful word choice that will cause listeners to sit up and pay attention.

There are several reasons why people might be interested in listening to Stephen King’s thoughts on gun violence. Most obvious is the fact that he’s built a career on fictional accounts of death and dismemberment. As such, you might expect him to side with the NRA. In truth, he owns several guns himself. Further, he published a book (‘Rage’) with a storyline that centered on a school shooting. But these facts do not make him any less opposed to gun violence, or inclined to comment on the ways in which it has affected both individuals and our culture as a whole.

You may not know this, but King actually pulled ‘Rage’ from store shelves when he discovered that certain readers were said to be inspired by it. Although he doesn’t particularly believe that there is a connection between violent media (books, movies, video games, etc.) and violent acts in the real world, he was shocked enough by the reaction to his book to stop further sales. And while he might express his own dark thoughts through his writing, the figments of his imagination that come to life in the pages of his novels are nothing like the man himself.

Still, listeners may be surprised to learn that he supports several solutions to the gun violence epidemic that seems to have swept the nation over the last few decades. For example, he is in favor of three key pieces of legislation that have the potential to limit episodes of gun violence. He supports universal background checks that could drastically reduce the number of guns sold to parties with a criminal past or a history of mental illness. He also espouses bans on both high-capacity magazines (those with more than ten bullets) and assault rifles.

While some people might scoff at a fiction writer offering his opinions on gun control, plenty of groups who agree with King’s position will no doubt turn this essay into a treasure trove of¬†famous quotations¬†before long, simply because he has an uncanny ability to turn a phrase (or perhaps because his stance is so unexpected, considering what he is famous for). In any case, this audio book is definitely worth listening to. No matter which side of the debate you fall on, Stephen King certainly has a keen sense of how to strike an emotional chord with his word-craft, so listeners are sure to enjoy the journey even if they don’t agree with the conclusions. And for those who are on the same page as King, there’s the added benefit that proceeds for the sale of this audio book will go to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

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