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.
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James Fallows is a staff writer for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. He and his wife, Deborah Fallows, are the authors of the new book Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America, which has been a New York Times best seller and is the basis of a forthcoming HBO documentary.