Ten true stories about guns in America

A gun shaped like a phone. A Hello Kitty rifle. Cities that require you to own a gun.

Read the main article, "Why and how we beat guns into garden tools."

  • The Barrett 82A1 Centerfire Rifle, a .50-caliber rifle that can shoot five miles, is advertised with these words: “A round of ammunition purchased for less than $10 can destroy or disable a modern jet aircraft.” One has to ask: Why do we have guns that can shoot down an aircraft? The fellow it’s named after, Ronnie Barrett, praised God for the gun: “It really is a gift from God.”
  • There is a gun that is made to look exactly like a cell phone. It’s the same size, shape, and overall look, but beneath the face is a .22-caliber pistol. It’s a phone that is capable of firing four rounds in succession with the touch of the keypad. It also looks pretty easy to take into places where cell phones are allowed but guns are not.
  • In an attempt to make guns more attractive to women, and especially young women, gun dealers have started making Hello Kitty assault rifles and bubble-gum-pink pistols. Two kids in North Carolina, ages three and seven, found one of the pistols, and the three-year-old was killed as they played with it. The manufacturers are immune from any liability, even though they intentionally created weapons that would attract children.
  • Florida created a statewide database of pawnshop transactions to aid police officers in tracking stolen property. The database includes pawned jewelry, televisions, tools, computers—everything except guns. The law stipulates that details of gun transactions are to be purged after 48 hours.
  • There’s a thing called a “fire sale loophole.” It allows gun dealers who loses their license for misconduct to dispose of inventory privately without being charged for illegal sales.
  • One more strange law: a gun dealer who sells two or more handguns to the same person within five days must report the sales to the ATF, except if they are AK-47s, which don’t have to be reported.
  • People on the no-fly list can still buy weapons. A study of the period 2004 to 2010 found that 1,228 individuals on the terrorist watch list underwent background checks when they attempted to buy firearms or explosives. Only 109 were denied. That means roughly 91 percent of attempts to buy lethal weapons made by people we know are potentially dangerous were permitted.
  • Did you know that some cities require every person to own a gun? If you don’t like guns, it’s best not to live in Kennesaw, Georgia; Nelson, Georgia; Nucla, Colorado; Virgin, Utah; or Gun Barrel City, Texas.
  • A gun is stolen every minute in the U.S. What’s more, stolen guns aren’t required to be reported in many states. Fifteen guns disappear each day from gun shops—over 5,000 per year. Every year 300,000 guns are stolen from other places like homes, cars, and even directly from the military or gun factories. Up to a third of these stolen guns are used in crimes.
  • Not only can you find plans and parts online to build your own unregistered firearm, but now you can find instructions for printing a gun on a 3-D printer. Because they are made almost entirely from plastic, these guns can easily pass through metal detectors and make their way into schools, courthouses, or airplanes. Law enforcement officials refer to them as “ghost guns” since they have no serial number and are untraceable. ATF agents decided to test the instructions and found that the resulting gun fired with the accuracy of a commercial handgun. The instructions have been downloaded a million times.

This article is adapted from the forthcoming book Beating Guns: Hope for People Who Are Weary of Violenceby Shane Claiborne and Michael Martin; published by Brazos, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2019. Used by permission.