Town Hall Seattle: Jonathan Metzl — 'What We've Become: Living and Dying in a Country of Arms'

An event in partnership with Town Hall Seattle


Town Hall Seattle and Third Place Books present Jonathan Metzl a discussion of his book, What We've Become: Living and Dying in a Country of Arms.

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About the event. . . 

In 2018, there was a mass shooting with an AR-15 at a Waffle House. The racially charged act of violence led Dr. Jonathan M. Metzl, a Nashville-based gun policy scholar and author, to advocate for gun reform. But how can we stop gun violence in a nation that sees hundreds of mass shootings every year?

As Metzel examined the crime, he began having doubts about continuing to approach gun reform through the lens of public health that he had championed long before. The killings led him to examine the limitations of biomedical frameworks for fully diagnosing or treating the complexities of American gun politics. In his new book What We’ve Become: Living and Dying in a Country of Arms, Metzl discusses the long history of distrust of public health as well as larger forces—social, ideological, historical, racial, and political—that he argues allow mass shootings to occur on a near daily basis in America and become normalized.

What We’ve Become looks closely at the consequences of mass shootings in this country, the meanings of safety and community, and how obstacles like political gridlock impede progress toward ending these violent crimes. Metzl considers mass shootings to be a symptom of our most unresolved national conflicts and offers his views on what can make things right.


Jonathan Metzl is the Frederick B. Rentschler II professor of sociology and psychiatry and the director of the Department of Medicine, Health, and Society at Vanderbilt University. The award-winning author of Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Is Killing America’s Heartland and other books, he hails from Kansas City, Missouri, and lives in Nashville, Tennessee.


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