After Gun Violence

Deliberation and Memory in an Age of Political Gridlock

By (author) Craig Rood

Hardback - £71.95

Publication date:

04 June 2019

Length of book:

200 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271083834

Mass shootings have become the “new normal” in American life. The same can be said for the public debate that follows a shooting: blame is cast, political postures are assumed, but no meaningful policy changes are enacted. In After Gun Violence, Craig Rood argues that this cycle is the result of a communication problem. Without advocating for specific policies, Rood examines how Americans talk about gun violence and suggests how we might discuss the issues more productively and move beyond our current, tragic impasse.

Exploring the ways advocacy groups, community leaders, politicians, and everyday citizens talk about gun violence, Rood reveals how the gun debate is about far more than just guns. He details the role of public memory in shaping the discourse, showing how memories of the victims of gun violence, the Second Amendment, and race relations influence how gun policy is discussed. In doing so, Rood argues that forgetting and misremembering this history leads interest groups and public officials to entrenched positions and political failure and drives the public further apart.

Timely and innovative, After Gun Violence advances our understanding of public discourse in an age of gridlock by illustrating how public deliberation and public memory shape and misshape one another. It is a search to understand why public discourse fails and how we can do better.

“Written with passion, insight, and eloquence, After Gun Violence is a compelling exploration of a tragically American problem—regular, mass gun violence. Aligning himself with readers as a horrified witness to these deadly recurring events, Craig Rood balances outrage with perspective, weariness with resolve, sadness with hope that Americans may achieve mutual understanding on a topic that has produced mistrust and frustration. Rood respects the complexity of people’s different beliefs about guns while articulating a clear vision of a way forward. A stunning achievement.”

—Robert Asen, author of Democracy, Deliberation, and Education