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Cover of the book "Rhetoric and Guns," co-edited by Ryan Skinnell.
April 2022
Utah State University Press

College or Unit:

Rhetoric and Guns

Edited by: 
Lydia Wilkes
Nate Kreuter
Ryan Skinnell

Guns hold a complex place in American culture. Over 30,000 Americans die each year from gun violence, and guns are intimately connected to issues of public health, as is evident whenever a mass shooting occurs. But guns also play an important role in many Americans’ lives that is not reducible to violence and death — as tools, sporting equipment and identity markers. They are also central to debates about constitutional rights, as seen in ongoing discussions about the Second Amendment, and they are a continuous source of legislative concern, as apparent in annual ratings of gun-supporting legislators. 

Even as guns are wrapped up with other crucial areas of concern, they are also fundamentally a rhetorical concern. How Americans talk, deliberate and fight about guns is vital to how guns are marketed, used and regulated. A better understanding of the rhetorics of guns and gun violence can help Americans make better arguments about them in the world. 

"Rhetoric and Guns" advances more direct, systematic engagement in the field and beyond by analyzing rhetoric about guns, guns in rhetoric and guns as rhetoric, particularly as they relate to specific instances of guns in culture. The authors attempt to understand rhetoric’s relationship to guns by analyzing rhetoric about guns and how they function in and as rhetoric related to specific instances — in media coverage, political speech, marketing and advertising. Original chapters from scholars in rhetorical studies, communication, education and related fields elucidate how rhetoric is used to maintain and challenge the deadly status quo of gun violence in the United States and extend rhetoricians’ sustained interest in the fields’ relationships to violence, brutality and atrocity.


Ryan Skinnell is an ASU alum, having earned a PhD in English in 2011.

Praise for this book

“'Rhetoric and Guns' illustrates the complexity of the gun debate, and many of the chapters gesture toward ways in which this debate could become more productive, ideally leading to less violence.”

Megan Eatman
Clemson University