Stephen King has injected himself into the American debate over gun control with a new essay titled “Guns.” The 25-page essay, published as part of Amazon’s Kindle Singles collection, includes possible solutions to the mass-shooting epidemic that has plagued the nation but also announces King’s decision to remove his first novel, "Rage," from bookshelves.
Before there was Carrie, Jack Torrance or “The Stand,” King penned “Rage,” about a student who brings a gun to school and kills members of the faculty before taking his class hostage. King told Mediabistro how his feelings about the novel have changed in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook elementary in Newtown, Conn., and similar, no-less-tragic events.
“My book did not break [these teenagers] or turn them into killers; they found something in my book that spoke to them, because they were already broken,” he said. “Yet I did see ‘Rage’ as a possible accelerant, which is why I pulled it from sale. You don’t leave a can of gasoline where a boy with firebug tendencies can lay hands on it.”
Four different teenagers who had committed shootings said they had copies of “Rage.” The book was originally published in 1977 under King’s pseudonym, Richard Bachman.
“I suppose if it had been written today, and some high school English teacher had seen it, he would have rushed the manuscript to the guidance counselor, and I would have found myself in therapy posthaste,” King said to Salon.
“Guns” also “constructs his argument for what can and should be done” about the gun violence that has killed so many innocent people. King, a gun owner himself, said the current political discourse has forgotten about the middle-of-the-road political ideology.
Reviews of the Kindle Single have been overwhelmingly positive, perhaps because of his quip, “The idea that America exists in a culture of violence is bulls***. What exists is a culture of Kardashian.”