American Gun: The True Story of the AR-15


City Opera House Tue, Sep 19 7:00 PM


Join us for what is sure to be a provocative conversation with authors Cameron McWhirter
and Zusha Elinson, whose new book AMERICAN GUN tells the epic history of America’s
most controversial and lethal handheld weapon–the AR-15 rifle. Both Wall Street Journal
reporters, the authors trace the gun’s history, beginning with its invention in the 1950s by
an obsessive firearms designer in a California garage. Eugene Stoner had intended it as a
lightweight, easier-to-use weapon than the M1s carried by soldiers in World War II. He
founded a small company, which successfully took on the lies and deceit of top government
officials to establish this weapon as superior option for the military. The government
modified the gun for the Vietnam War, naming it the M16. It didn’t work very well, jamming
repeatedly and killing solders.

Ultimately, the AR-15 became the lethal center of mass shootings, violence in America, and
the polarization of our society. AMERICAN GUN describes how and why attempts to ban
and restrict the AR-15 are foiled again and again even after it was used in mass shootings in
Sandy Hook, Parkland, Las Vegas, Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, and many other places.

Writing with fairness and compassion, McWhirter and Elinson explore America’s gun
culture, revealing the deep appeal of the AR-15, the awful havoc it wreaks, and the politics
of reducing its toll. The result is a moral history of America’s love affair with technology,
freedom, and weaponry.

McWhirter and Elison have covered gun culture and the industry, including mass
shootings, for years. They will talk with guest host Benjamin Busch, an actor, writer,
filmmaker, and veteran, who served 16 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, deploying to
Iraq in 2003 and 2005. He is also author of an award-winning memoir Dust to Dust, and
has written for national magazines. He lives on a farm with his family in Michigan where
he is a stonemason by day and an illustrator at night.