Talking about the Glock with Paul Barrett

Paul Barrett

Best-selling author coming to Roseville to discuss America’s favorite handgun

Monday, June 3.

Circle this date on your calendar, then head on over to the Roseville branch of the Ramsey County Library for what should be a fascinating presentation entitled: “Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun.”

That’s also the title of the best seller by New York City author Paul Barrett who will be in town for his only visit to Minnesota this year.

The presentation — as well as the book — centers on the startling popularity of the Glock handgun, but the subject of gun control will be on the minds of many.

Barrett, an editor for Bloomberg Businessweek and author of several books, is a self-described “pragmatist” when it comes to guns, gun safety and gun rights. He does not advocate for either side.

“We’ll have people at the discussion June 3 that will want to state their opinions and that’s fine,” he said. “Handguns are neither moral or amoral. The problem is the misuse of gun.”

The rise in popularity of the Glock handgun can be attributed to its successful design and a lot of controversy.

The Glock was originally accused of being designed as a weapon for terrorists to use in hijacking airplanes because of its plastic components, even to the point of launching congressional hearings in the late 80’s, The charge was “phony and made no sense,” Barrett said. Parts of the gun to this day are metal, as is the ammunition, and never would have compromised airport security.

But rather than keeping the gun out of so many hands, the controversy actually served to increase its presence.

Popular today with both the good guys and the bad guys, embraced by two-thirds of U.S. police departments and glamorized in countless Hollywood movies and TV cop shows, Glocks have also been on the scene at Newtown, Aurora and Tucson, carried by the wrong people, including the Newtown, Conn. shooter who did his damage with a Bushmaster but was packing a Glock as a secondary weapon.

The Glock is known as reliable, accurate, lightweight and cheaper to produce, “But there is a flip side to the weapon,” Barrett said.

The knock on the Glock

The large capacity can be problematic in the wrong or inexperienced hands.

“There is also no external safety on the gun,” Barrett explained. “There is a small trigger safety but can be misused if not employed by a well-trained individual. People have been known to shoot themselves in the leg,” Barrett said.

Austrian engineer Gaston Glock, the father of the Glock handgun is an interesting guy. The founder of the company made his fortune manufacturing plastic curtain rings before rising to the challenge of designing a handgun for the Austrian army at age 52. He survived an attempt on his life at age 70 when he was hit seven times in the head with a mallet. Today, the 84-year-old lives with his 33-year-old second wife and still owns the company, although he has relinquished control of the-day-today operations. The company also has a U.S. factory in Georgia established in 1985.

The program, An Evening with Paul Barrett, will be held at the Roseville branch of the Ramsey County Library at 2180 N. Hamline Avenue beginning at 7 p.m. Monday evening, June 3. There is no charge to attend.

Funding for the event was provided by legacy money from that portion of the state sales tax dedicated to the arts and administered by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Denny Lynard can be reached at or 651-748-7823.

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