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Guns are everywhere: three quarters of a billion guns - from pistols to machine guns - exist in the world today. And guns are everything: a hard-won symbol of individual freedom, an index of crime and disorder, a whole industry legitimately contributing to an economy, a popular piece of sports equipment, and an object of desire, endlessly duplicated by toys, video games and films. Open Fire presents a broad analysis of the social, cultural and political significance of firearms and the worlds they create. Illustrated with a wide range of case material - from North and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa - Open Fire explores and questions this global icon of our times. Why do guns proliferate? What does it mean to shoot or to be shot? Who owns guns and who does not? How is a firearm, a manufactured thing, very different from any other object? Is there such a thing as a "gun psychology"? How are firearms regarded in places where they are largely non-existent? Is a gun a different thing when held by a white man?