It's a Glock world after all
Aesthetically, it’s generally considered an ugly gun: matte black polymer, boxy angles and a distinctive lack of decoration, worthy of the label ‘handgun Tupperware.’ But for most Americans the homely Glock has come to define handgun. It is the silhouette on the ‘no firearms permitted’ signs, it is the gun brandished in gangsta rap videos, it was the weapon used to wound Rep. Giffords (herself a Glock owner), and it’s likely on the hip of your local police officer. In Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun, journalist Paul M. Barrett details the unlikely success of the plastic gun, and the impact it has had on American culture.
The 9mm Glock was born in the early 1980s, the creation of an Austrian inventor better known for his curtain rod business. As Barrett describes it, Glock’s improbable birth was one of its first keys to success. Unburdened by a tradition or bureaucracy, Gaston Glock revolutionized firearm design for all time. With its polymer components and relatively few parts, the Glock could take a beating, its extra large magazine gave it an edge over six-shot revolvers and its small size and easy trigger pull made it a favorite among law enforcement officers and the general public alike. But Barrett reveals that the wild success of Glock was due as much to a surprising series of coincidences and strikingly savvy, if cynical, moves by company executives to position Glock in the best position financially, regardless of which way the gun control laws went.
Barrett, a former writer for the Wall Street Journal and current editor at Bloomberg Businessweek, focuses primarily on the corporate story of the gun, which, thanks to a diverse cast of characters and bizarre tales up to and including contract hits, holds a lot of interest. The impact of the Glock on America’s singular gun culture is a little less successful: the debate over Second Amendment rights can’t really be adequately addressed in a book of this scope. While Barrett details how Glock used gun legislation and occasionally rocky relations with the NRA to its financial advantage, coming to any definitive conclusions about the plastic pistol specifically has had on crime rates remains elusive. With Wisconsin’s recent passage of its conceal carry law and Glock’s predominance in that market, Barrett’s book is a timely examination of the little gun that’s everywhere and what it means in the ongoing battle over gun laws.