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Rise of the Glock

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 Our Favorite Weapon

New York Times
Book Review

You rarely pull a gun to start a conversation, but when I recently told an in-law that I was writing about Glock pistols, he improvised a research project. Reaching beneath his jacket, he quickly unholstered, unloaded and handed me his Glock 9 millimeter this was in Kentucky, land of permissive concealed-carry laws. I always carry this, and I always will, he said before giving me a primer that could have been used in a promotional video for both the pistol and "Glock: The Rise of America"s Gun, Paul M. Barrett's engaging if uneven history of the most famous handgun in contemporary America.

Created in 1982 by Gaston Glock, an Austrian curtain-rod manufacturer, the Glock arrived stateside during the 1980s crime epidemic. Through gun buybacks, discounts and Glock-sponsored junkets to strip clubs, the company seduced many law enforcement agencies into trading their obsolescent service revolvers for semiautomatic Glocks. Troubled by some of the gun's innovative features for instance, the Glock lacks an external safety mechanism; its trigger safety is released by merely pulling the trigger, a rarity with semiautomatics and the cause of many self-inflicted gunshot wounds among police officers who recklessly drew their new weapons  Congress convened hearings on the Glock, and several municipalities banned the gun. Through these simultaneous developments, Barrett writes, the gun inherited all aspects of the American firearm heritage: It was seen as an instrument of law and security, but also menace, danger and fear. Americans desire for a certain gun is elementary: if cops use a gun or if a weapon's availability is threatened, people demand the gun.

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