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Sming Sming Books

This is Not A Gun by Cara Levine

This is Not A Gun by Cara Levine

Regular price $32.00 USD
Regular price Sale price $32.00 USD
Sale Sold out

Third Edition: ISBN 978-1-953189-09-7
February 2023, English, 5 x 10.5 in, 288 pages, b&w, softcover
Design: Sming Sming Books
Printing & Production: For the Birds Trapped in Airports

Co-published with For the Birds Trapped in Airports!

This Is Not a Gun gathers contributions from 40 artists, writers, healers, and activists who each respond to 40 objects that police officers have mistaken for guns, during a shooting of an unarmed civilian. The project opens dialogue to consider how everyday objects, such as a broomstick, bible, set of keys, iPod, sunglasses, and a pack of Skittles are transformed into ones of perceived threat through the lens of racism and power.

This Is Not a Gun is part of a long-term, multidisciplinary project by the same name, which endeavors to carve out time and space for community to site these issues within our own bodies and stories. The project, by artist Cara Levine, includes a studio practice of carving wooden sculptures of these mistaken-as-gun objects, as well as public workshops to discuss where participants shape these objects in clay, giving presence to their form, the human-rights violations, and racism prevalent in the United States today. Visit for more information.

Foreword by Cara Levine and introduction by Elena Gross. Contributors include: Kemi Adeyemi, Jessica Angima, Sampada Aranke, Quenton Baker, Shamell Bell, Gregory Boyle, Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo, Elizabeth Dorbad, Amanda Eicher, Ekaette Ekong, Guillermo Galindo, Faye Gleisser, Sonia Guiñansaca, Angela Hennessy, Constance Hockaday, Jessica Ingram, Kate Johnson, Chris Johnson, Christopher Johnson, Ann Lewis, Rodney Lucas, Eliza Myrie, Keni Nooner, Kambui Olujimi, sidony o’neal, Candice Price, Kirat Randhawa, Will Rawls, Joshua Ross, Bayeté Ross-Smith, Emilia Shaffer-Del Valle, Jadelynn Stahl, Ashley Stull Meyers, Khadija Tarver, Jade Thacker, Prophet Walker, Leila Weefur, Amir Whitaker, Marvin K. White, and Christine Wong Yap.

Cara Levine is an artist, educator, and activist based in Los Angeles. Levine is the founder of This Is Not a Gun, a multidisciplinary project aimed at creating awareness, dialogue, and action around systematic racism through art practice. She is an associate adjunct professor in Sculpture New Genres and Foundations at Otis College of Art and Design.


Caring for Books

Books made by hand are generally going to be more resilient than books made by machine, but in either case: the nicer you are to them, the longer they'll last in the condition you bought them in.

Depending on your location, the moisture of that environment may cause slight curling in the board and papers. If so, the materials are adjusting to your environment, and if you left the journal under weight in that environment for 24-48 hours, that issue should resolve itself. This acclimation process is something many libraries conduct when getting new books for their shelves.

Did you scuff or mark your book cover? Don't put soap or water on it! Get a rubber cement pick up and gently rub the mark off of the area. You may not be able to get all of it, but, most of the time, it gets the job done!

Shipping & Returns


We take great care in the packing of our orders and offer UPS and USPS shipping options. UPS will usually go out in 1-2 days. USPS orders will go out the next Friday.


If extreme circumstances cause the order to be damaged along its way to you, we can offer a discount for the inconvenience, but we are often unable to offer total refunds or replacements due to the handmade nature of our products.

Full refunds will be exclusively given to customers who can provide photographs that show that the product received does not correspond to the order made, and they can keep the original product sent to them.


All purchases of used, handmade, rare, vintage, obscure and out of print books are FINAL SALE items. 

There are no refunds or exchanges for final sale items.

Keep in mind when you purchase books that are considered rare, used, vintage, obscure, and out of print, these books have been loved by other readers before you. You may find signs of wear like tears, scratches, and/or tape inside the book or on the dust jacket (if applicable). 

You may find personal dedications, names and dates of previous owners, library stamps (for books that circulated in libraries and were later acquired via library booksales), barcodes, original price stickers or erased pricing from prior resale. You will also often find annotations in these books, a sign that previous owner(s) were engaged in deep reading and/or research where notes and observations are left in the margins, underlined or circled with pen or pencil. 

We leave this evidence of previous owners in our books to encourage new owners to engage deeply with the book content as well as the previous owners through their thoughts and observations of the books you now own.

Speculation Glossary

If you are new to book collecting, you might notice phrases like ‘first edition’, ‘near new’ or ‘library copy’ in the descriptions for the books. Below is a short but sweet glossary of what these phrases mean to help you better understand what to look for when collecting previously owned, rare, vintage, obscure and out of print books:

Like New/Mint: A perfect copy, as if it just came up out the shrinkwrap.

Near fine: Not as pristine as a perfect copy, but very close. Usually no/or few markings, tears, or other signs of wear.

Signed: A manuscript signed by the author, usually found on the first two pages of a book and often addressed to the previous book owner

Dust Jacket: The decorative paper placed around hardcover books to protect the binding

Library copy/ex-library: A book that was previously owned and circulated by a library. Usually have card pockets, catalog numbers and barcodes.

First edition/first ed: The first appearance of a work in book form in its first printing and often highly coveted by collectors.

First trade edition: The first appearance of a work in book form for general commercial sale

Mass market paperback: Think your mom’s romance novels or your favorite sci fi novels, the most common of books found in homes. Mass market paperbacks are usuall about 4x7 inches

Out of print: The work is no longer being printed and as such there are only so many copies of the book available.

Paperback: A book with paper covers

Rare: Hard-to-impossible to find with limited copies available of the work.

Obscure: Works that are not well known and/or under-read. Sometimes these books are self published or overlooked in an author’s larger body of work. Very often treasure troves of information!


Please keep in mind that Speculation Bookshop does not function like a standard antiquarian or rare book dealer, which is to say, these books are priced affordably for beginning book collectors of color. If you are a book dealer interested in one of these books, please contact Oriana directly at as the prices marked on the shop are not available to professional dealers. Yes, I can check your information via Shopify and will send your money back if you try to purchase our inventory as a book dealer without first contacting me.

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For the Birds Trapped in Airports is a publishing studio making books in collaboration with arts workers.

Our studio is structurally designed to foster relationships between peers that are based in collective support of one another’s well-being.

Learn more.

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    Please note the estimated production time for pre-orders and products that are made to order—it will always be noted in the product description.