Summary and book reviews of Let It Bang by RJ Young

Let It Bang

A Young Black Man's Reluctant Odyssey into Guns

by RJ Young

Let It Bang by RJ Young X
Let It Bang by RJ Young
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  • Published:
    Oct 2018, 192 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Valerie Morales
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About this Book

Book Summary

The quest, funny and searing, of a young black man learning to shoot—a fascinating odyssey into race, guns, and self-protection in America

The most RJ Young knew about guns was that they could get him killed. Until, recently married to a white woman and in desperate need of a way to relate to his gun-loving father-in-law, Young does the unimaginable: he accepts Charles's gift of a Glock.

Despite, or because of, the racial rage and fear he experiences among white gun owners ("Ain't you supposed to be shooting a basketball?"), Young determines to get good, really good, with a gun. 

Let It Bang is the compelling story of the author's unexpected obsession—he eventually becomes an NRA-certified pistol instructor—and of his deep dive into the heart of America's gun culture: what he sees as the domino effect of white fear, white violence, black fear, rinse, repeat. Young's original reporting on shadow industries like US Law Shield, which insures and defends people who report having shot someone in self-defense, and on the newly formed National African American Gun Association, gives powerful insight into the dynamic. Through indelible profiles, Young brings us up to the current rocketing rise in gun ownership among black Americans, most notably women.

Let It Bang is an utterly original look at American gun culture from the inside, and from the other side—and, most movingly, the story of a young black man's hard-won nonviolent path to self-protection.

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

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What Young has penned will disappoint many. It is not a partisan story about his own comeuppance in a white world. It is not a book preaching to Democrats or castigating Republicans about their gun porn. It doesn't wave the banner of Black Lives Matter as a matter of conscience. It refuses to drown the 2nd Amendment in moral snobbery nor does it let the liberal gun haters have the last word. It doesn't say much about interracial marriage other than the fact that R.J. had one. Simply, his story is about a negotiation. He loved a woman whose family fetishized and cherished guns. He tried to love guns for her sake and his. For a short time, the love affair with guns and Lizzie took hold of his heart and rendered ecstasy. And then he had to look in the mirror. He was still a black man in America.   (Reviewed by Valerie Morales).

Full Review Members Only (1048 words).

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Honest and heartbreaking, Young's raw account of being a black gun owner in America will mesmerize readers.

Kirkus Reviews
Race and guns make an explosive combination.

Author Blurb Glenn Stout, author of Young Woman and the Sea and series editor, The Best American Sports Writing
RJ Young's Let It Bang is a penetrating and personal look at America's gun culture that hits the mark, finding both what brings us together as much as what tears us apart.

Author Blurb Ben Montgomery, author of Grandma Gatewood's Walk
It's easy to stand outside the fray and criticize the gun-hung whites and radical rednecks defending the Second Amendment. It takes real courage to grab a pistol, head to the range, and try to understand where they're coming from. This is RJ Young's success with Let It Bang.

Author Blurb Charles E. Cobb, Jr., author This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible
In the often muddled debate over gun possession and gun violence, Let It Bang resonates with common sense.

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Beyond the Book

Liberals Love Guns Too

Liberal Gun Club LogoIn his memoir, Let It Bang: A Young Black Man's Reluctant Odyssey With Guns, R.J. Young takes readers into his obsession with guns, and in the process explores race, guns and self-protection in the U.S.

But who exactly owns guns? While gun ownership skews strongly to rural white men who most likely vote Republican, the American reality is that it is much more widespread.

According to Pew Research, over one-third of whites own a gun but so do almost a quarter of blacks and 15% of Latinos. Gun ownership is also not the sole province of men; while 48% of white men currently own a gun, so do almost a quarter of white women and 16% of nonwhite women.

When it comes to politics, 20% of Democrats and left-leaning independents own guns...

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