Guns across America: Reconciling Gun Rules and Rights

Hardcover | April 21, 2015

byRobert Spitzer

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In vast swathes of America, the sacredness of the Second Amendment has become a political third rail, never to be questioned. Gun rights supporters wear tri-cornered hats, wave the stars and stripes, and ask what would have happened if the revolutionaries had been unarmed when the British werecoming. They have had great success in conflating unfettered gun ownership with the Founding Fathers, the Constitution, and all things American, even in an era of repeated mass shootings. Yet the all-too-familiar narrative of America's gun past, echoed in the Supreme Court's Heller gun rightsdecision, is not only mythologized, but historically wrong. As Robert J. Spitzer demonstrates in Guns across America, gun ownership is as old as the nation, but so is gun regulation. Drawing on a vast new dataset of early gun laws reflecting every imaginable type of regulation, Spitzer reveals that firearms were actually more strictly regulated in thecountry's first three centuries than in recent years. The first "gun grabbers" were not 1960's Chablis-drinking liberals, but seventeenth century rum-guzzling pioneers, and their legacy continued through strict gun regulations in the 1920s and beyond. Spitzer examines interpretations of the SecondAmendment, the assault weapons controversy, modern "stand your ground" laws, and the so-called "right of rebellion" to show that they play out in America's contemporary political landscape in ways that bear little resemblance to our imagined past. And as gun rights proponents seek to roll back gunlaws and press as many guns into as many hands as possible, warning that gun rights are endangered, they sidestep the central question: are stricter gun laws incompatible with robust gun rights? Spitzer answers this question by examining New York State's tough gun laws, where his political analysisis complemented by his own quest for a concealed carry handgun permit and construction of a legal AR-15 assault weapon. Not only can gun rights and rules coexist, but they have throughout American history. Guns across America reveals the long-hidden truth: that gun regulations are in fact as American as apple pie

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In vast swathes of America, the sacredness of the Second Amendment has become a political third rail, never to be questioned. Gun rights supporters wear tri-cornered hats, wave the stars and stripes, and ask what would have happened if the revolutionaries had been unarmed when the British werecoming. They have had great success in conf...

Robert J. Spitzer is Distinguished Service Professor and Chair of the Political Science Department at SUNY Cortland. He is the author of 15 books, including five on the presidency and five on gun policy, and of over 600 articles, essays, and papers appearing in many books, journals, newspapers, and web sites on many American politics ...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:272 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.98 inPublished:April 21, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019022858X

ISBN - 13:9780190228583

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction1. Why Do We Have Government?2. Our Forefathers were Smarter About Guns Than Us3. What About the Second Amendment?4. How Did We Get from Self-Defense to Shoot First?5. The Case of New YorkAppendix: State Gun Laws, 1607-1934