At Close Range


By Leesa Ross
Categories: Nonfiction / Memoir / Personal Transformation / Advocacy
Publisher: Texas Tech University Press
Pages: 192
Publication Date: April 15, 2020

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Leesa Ross did not expect to write a book. Neither did she expect the tragedy that her family endured, a horrific and sudden death that led her to write At Close Range. Her debut memoir is the story of what happened after her son Jon died in a freak gun accident at a party. Ross unsparingly shares the complexities of grief as it ripples through the generations of her family, then chronicles how the loss of Jon has sparked a new life for her as a prominent advocate for gun safety.  Before the accident, Ross never had a motivation to consider the role that guns played in her life. Now, she revisits ways in which guns became a part of everyday life for her three sons and their friends.

Ross’s attitude towards guns is thorny. She has collectors and hunters in her family. To balance her advocacy, she joined both Moms Demand Action and the NRA. Through At Close Range, the national conversation about gun control plays out in one family’s catalyzing moment and its aftermath. However, At Close Range ultimately shows one mother’s effort to create meaning from tragedy and find a universally reasonable position and focal point: gun safety and responsible ownership.

Purchase: Texas Tech University Press

Let’s start with the cover of this book.  Fortunately I was provided with a hard copy.  With this cover, it made all the difference.  The detailed locks creating a handgun drew my eyes and my brain quickly followed with curiosity.  Here is a message for the reader even before they crack the cover.

Growing up in a home where guns were present and where gun safety was taught early and often, I am comfortable around guns. (No I did not grow up in Texas!)  My dad taught my brother and me from a young age what was and was not appropriate behavior near guns.  With this background, I was curious to see where the author’s viewpoint would be on the subject.

This is a detailed and heart-tugging story that, as a mother, I could identify with on so many levels.  The author’s angst and endless variety of feelings were mostly ones I could imagine myself feeling or asking the same questions.

While I do not agree with all of the author’s perspectives, I do respect her way of dealing with the horrific episode in her family’s life. I too feel like I do not align with the majority of the pro- or anti-gun  organizations and felt comradery as the author tried to find her place after the death of her son.

Leesa Ross walks the reader through about a year in her life after her son dies.  She also spends a bit of time giving us background on the family, events and specifically the life of her son Jon.  This is not an easy or simple read, but it definitely is a different aspect than I have read in books of similar events.  I would highly suggest keeping an open mind and considering this author’s viewpoint.  She makes a lot of logical sense on an idea that could help parents prepare their children for a world where guns are part of the norm for many people.



Leesa Ross is a debut author who’s transformed a tragedy into a mission for safety. After losing a son to a shooting accident, she formed Lock Arms for Life, an educational organization teaching gun safety. A Texas mother of three, she leads Lock Arms, sits on the board of Texas Gun Sense, and belongs to the NRA.



FIVE WINNERS each get a hardcover copy of At Close Range.

US Only. Ends midnight, CST, 2/26/21

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