Nearly twenty years ago, Erik Larson -- now known for Devil in the White City and other books -- published Lethal Passage, which was a carefully reconstructed narrative history of the weapons used in a school shooting. 

Unfortunately it remains relevant reading, and as an introduction please consider the lengthy excerpt the Atlantic ran in 1993, as "The Story of a Gun." It is in our archives, here

Thanks to reader EA. (Subscribe.)

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to