If you really want to deeply understand the role guns play in American life, you'll have to read more than just Jill Lepore's "Battleground America" in The New Yorker, but that's still an excellent starting point.

Lepore's information-dense examination of Americans' relationship with their guns drew us in with the statistic that in the United States, there are as many guns as there are people. "Most Americans do not, however, own guns, because three-quarters of people with guns own two or more." Then there's Lepore's dispassionate history of the National Rifle Association and how it transformed from a sporting club that encouraged gun control to a libertarian-leaning political lobbying group. As the Trayvon Martin shooting brings both gun controls and race relations back into the national spotlight, Lepore's point that the NRA once found itself supporting gun control laws while the Black Panthers argued against them reminds us that the two issues have always been intertwined.

Read the whole article at The New Yorker.