Paul Barrett, whose New York Times bestseller is about “America’s gun,” will speak Monday in Roseville.
The Glock is a chillingly efficient weapon. It’s light and fast, durable and accurate. Its sleek design is considered by many to be sexy; it shows up in movies and on TV, it’s a favorite of cops and killers alike.
Journalist Paul M. Barrett, an assistant managing editor at Bloomberg Businessweek, became interested in the gun back in the 1990s while working on a story. His book “Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun” (America’s gun, even though it was invented by an Austrian) was 15 years in the researching. Newly out in paperback, it’s been a New York Times bestseller.
Barrett will speak at 7 p.m. Monday at the Ramsey County Public Library in Roseville.
Q: Where did your interest in researching the Glock begin?
A: In the late 1990s, I wrote about litigation against the gun industry. I knew nothing about guns, the people who made them or the people who bought them. I decided to learn. That inquiry led, over time, to “Glock.”
Q: What was the most surprising thing you found out?
A: How frequently attempts to restrict the lawful ownership of firearms had had the unintended consequence of inciting the sale of more firearms.
Q: How did a guy who made window hardware (and who had a rather amazing life himself) turn to making guns?
A: Gaston Glock was an unremarkable engineer who harbored a remarkable ambition to “make it.” He saw a chance in the Austrian military’s need for a new sidearm, and he took that chance.
Q: Your book suggests that when police departments switched to Glocks, their old guns often ended up in the hands of criminals. How did this happen?
A: Your premise is a little overstated. One way that Glock enticed American police departments to switch from Smith & Wesson in the late 1980s and early 1990s was to offer financially attractive trade-in deals. Glock took those old revolvers, refurbished them, and resold them on the secondary market. Some (but certainly not all or most) of those police trade-ins found their way into the hands of criminals.
Q: How did Glocks become so, well, sexy? When they are, after all, instruments of killing?
A: When they were introduced in the U.S. in the mid-1980s, Glock pistols had the look of the future: black, sleek, simple. They looked like something out of “Star Trek,” as opposed to the Old West or a 1930s noir movie. Hollywood and rap performers immediately adopted the Glock because it was new and different. That gave the brand a degree of celebrity it never would have had otherwise.