October 24, 1997


Americans who love their guns, and the Americans who love them.

Chris Ware


Host Ira Glass reads an ad from American Handgunner. People who love guns and people who hate them have a hard time seeing eye to eye, but this ad bridges the gap. As this week's show does. Hopefully. (4 minutes)
Act One

Nra Vs Nea

Sarah Vowell goes home to Montana to try and understand her gunsmith dad a little better. (11 minutes)


“Father Death Blues” by Allen Ginsberg
Act Two

Fists And Guns

Geoffrey Canada, author of the book Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence in America, talks about what it's like to carry a gun. He also talks about what poor neighborhoods in New York were like before the proliferation of handguns among young people.  When he grew up in the South Bronx, kids had fistfights in a very formal arrangement with formal rules that everyone lived by. He reads from his book and talks with Ira. (10 minutes)

Act Three


Chicago Playwright Bryn Magnus with a quintessential gun story from his childhood in Wisconsin.  It contains both the fear of guns and the pleasure of shooting one. (5 minutes)
Act Four

Potato Potahto

Two people who've nearly died in gun battles describe what it's like, getting shot at. They draw opposite conclusions from their near death experiences. Mike Robbins, a Chicago police officer, became an advocate of handgun controls. Suzanna Hupp, a chiropractor, became an important advocate of changing Texas law to allow concealed handguns. (12 minutes)
Act Five

Straw Man

Chicago writer Tori Marlan with a man who sold guns to criminals for two years, and what he makes of the experience. Most of the illegal guns on the street were actually purchased legally. Most of them were bought by people like our interviewee, who had a clean record, and sold the guns to local drug dealers for $50 to $200. (11 minutes)