Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Meacham on Tuscon

Jon Meacham enters the gun debate

January 17, 2011 Chattanooga native Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of a biography of Andrew Jackson, knows his way around a gun cabinet, according to an editorial Meacham delivered last Friday night on the PBS program Need to Know, which he co-hosts: “My father gave me a .22 rifle when I was 9 and a single barrel .410 shotgun when I was 10. I have inherited many of my family’s guns, including a rifle made by my great, great, great grandfather, which I will preserve and give to my son. One of the central memories of my childhood is of hunting—not well; I am a terrible shot—quail and dove and grouse on a farm on the Tennessee River.”

Meacham makes this point not because he’s planning to run for public office and would like the support of the NRA, but because he passionately opposes the NRA stance that made possible an assasination attempt on Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. As Meacham points out, “Whenever there is news of a terrible shooting, I wonder why America has so miserably failed to enact even common-sense gun legislation. I am not advocating a total ban, even on handguns. But I am embarrassed and ashamed that so many Second Amendment true believers are unable to make sound distinctions between sporting arms that tend to be used responsibly and the vicious, unnecessary machinery of human death like that allegedly wielded by Jared Lee Loughner in Tucson.”

Read the full essay here.