Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Adam Winkler's "Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America"

Adam Winkler, a professor of constitutional law at the University of California, Los Angeles, has been featured on CNN and in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and The New Republic.

He applied “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America, and reported the following:
On page 99 of Gunfight, you’ll find this sentence: “Those who looked into the history of the Second Amendment discovered that the right to bear arms was a lot older than most Americans ever imagined.” Indeed, Gunfight reveals that so much of what Americans imagine about guns and our gun culture is wrong—and that the true story is a lot more interesting and nuanced than either side in the gun debate acknowledges.

Although the Supreme Court only recently declared that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to own guns, the right is one of our oldest, most well-established rights. Nearly all the states’ own constitutions include a guarantee of an individual right to bear arms and, as Gunfight details, the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution was motivated by the desire to protect the freedmen’s rights, including specifically their right to bear arms (which was being threatened by racist posses, like the KKK).

Yet gun control is as much a part of the story of guns in America as the Second Amendment and six-shooter. The Founding Fathers had gun control laws so restrictive that if Madison, the author of the Second Amendment, were running for office today, the NRA wouldn’t endorse him. The Wild West, the heart of America’s gun culture, had the most burdensome and vigorously enforced gun control in the nation. For most of its history, the NRA was a proponent of gun control; it wasn’t until an internal “coup” by hard-line members in 1977 that the organization became the no-compromises opponent of gun safety laws we know.

Gunfight shows that we’ve always balanced gun rights and gun control—and that these efforts have shaped America in fascinating and surprising ways.
Learn more about Gunfight at the publisher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue