Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in Americaby Adam Winkler
A provocative history that reveals how gunsnot abortion, race, or religionare at the heart of America's cultural divide.Gunfight promises to be a seminal work in its examination of America's four-centuries-long political battle over gun control and the right to bear arms. In the tradition of Gideon's Trumpet, Adam Winkler uses the landmark 2008 case
A provocative history that reveals how gunsnot abortion, race, or religionare at the heart of America's cultural divide.Gunfight promises to be a seminal work in its examination of America's four-centuries-long political battle over gun control and the right to bear arms. In the tradition of Gideon's Trumpet, Adam Winkler uses the landmark 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller, which invalidated a law banning handguns in the nation's capital, as a springboard for a groundbreaking historical narrative. From the Founding Fathers and the Second Amendment to the origins of the Klan, ironically as a gun control organization, the debate over guns has always generated controversy. Whether examining the Black Panthers' role in provoking the modern gun rights movement or Ronald Reagan's efforts to curtail gun ownership, Winkler brilliantly weaves together the dramatic stories of gun rights advocates and gun control lobbyists, providing often unexpected insights into the venomous debate that now cleaves our nation.
This is an engaging and provocative legal drama about the six-year courtroom journey of District of Columbia v Heller and a fascinating survey of the misunderstood history of guns and gun control in America.”
In his first book, Daily Beast columnist Winkler (Constitutional Law/UCLA) takes on the contentious issue of gun control in the United States.
There have always been plenty of guns in America, but also plenty of gun control. For the author, there remains a need for both, yet extremist positions have emerged on both sides. "Gun nuts" argue for the absolute right of individuals to arm themselves, "gun grabbers" for a complete ban on all privately owned guns. The Second Amendment to the Constitution has been of little help, as it is not clear if the Amendment meant simply to ensure the formation of state militias or indeed gave the individual the right to bear arms. In 2008, a Washington, D.C., law banning all handguns was challenged before the U.S. Supreme Court, thus putting to the test the meaning of the Second Amendment. The unifying thread of the book is Winkler's Grisham-like story of the personalities and issues surrounding this case. He also places the current debate within an often surprising historical context. Yes, the Founding Fathers expected white men to have guns for service in the militia, but they also surrounded such gun possession with rules and regulations. The Wild West was not so wild after all. Places like Tombstone and Dodge City had some of the strongest gun laws ever devised in America. Race has played a large part in gun control, as before and after the Civil War black Americans were often terrorized by armed whites, with little legal recourse to arming themselves for self-defense. In 1967, Gov. Ronald Reagan signed into law strict prohibitions on the carrying of arms after the Black Panthers marched into the California Capitol Building armed to the teeth. In the end, the Supreme Court struck down the D.C. law but also noted there remained the right of government to regulate gun ownership. Winkler writes that this decision may open the way for action to truly reduce gun violence, yet unfortunately offers few suggestions for what these actions might be.
Detailed, balanced and engrossing—sure to displease both sides of the gun-control debate.
The New York Times
- Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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- 6.40(w) x 9.70(h) x 1.30(d)
Meet the Author
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. A columnist for the Daily Beast, he lives in Los Angeles.
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Mr. WINKLER DOES A VERY GOOD JOB OF PRESENTING A BALANCED PERSPECTIVE ON THE GUN RIGHTS/CONTROL DEBATE. WHILE SEEMING TO LEAN TO THE "REASONABLE CONTROLS" SIDE OF THE DEBATE, HE DOES PRESENT COMPLETE DATA AND POINTS OF VIEW FROM BOTH SIDES. OTHER VERY SLIGHT BIASES SHOW ALSO, FOR EXAMPLE WHEN HE DISCUSSES THE CONSTITUTIONAL CARRY LAWS IN ARIZONA WHICH HER GOVERNER PASSED BELEIVING IN THE MAXIM THAT GENERALLY "MORE GUNS EQUAL LESS CRIME" IN CONTRAST WITH THE UNFORTUNATE INCIDENT WHICH RESULTED IN DEAD AND WOUNDED OUTSIDE OF A SUPERMARKET IN WHICH THE CASUALTIES INCLUDED GABBY GIFFORDS. TO BE MORE BALANCED IN THAT SECTION, Mr. WINKLER COULD HAVE POINTED OUT THAT ONE OF THE PEOPLE WHO ASSISTED IN ENDING Mr. LAUGHNER'S RAMPAGE WAS A CIVILIAN WHO WAS CARRYING CONCEALED AT THE TIME AND NO DOUBT MITIGATED THE INJURIES AND DEATH CAUSED THAT DAY. THE STYLE IN WHICH Mr. WINKLER PRESENTS A POINT AND THEN COUNTERS FROM THE OPPOSTION, THE OMMISION IN THIS INSTANCE SEEMED SOMEWHAT GLARING. OVERALL THE BOOK IS VERY INFORMATIVE FROM A HISTORICAL AND SOCIAL PERSPECTIVE. PEOPLE FROM EITHER SIDE OF THE DEBATE COULD UTILIZE Mr. WINKLER'S WORK AS REFERENCE MATERIAL TO STRENGTHEN THEIR POSITION AND I AM GRATEFUL TO HIM FOR HIS COMPILATION AND RECOUNTING OF ALL OF THE HISTORICAL EVENTS CITED, INCLUDING THE RECENT HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT CASES, STORIES, AND ANECDOTES PERTAINING TO THE SECOND AMMENDMENT.
Mr. Winkler, uses as a law professor of mine would say, many "weasel" words. Conclusions by him based on his opinion, not hard facts. As a probate lawyer, people do not always honestly report assets, if at all, frequently undervaluing them, yet this is "proof" of few guns in early days - ignoring the relatively complete absence of violent crimes as well. His frequent "reasonable" control or safety measures, ignores the fact no other Amendment has undergone an onslaught of attempts to limit it, as the 2nd has. Further, ignores or downplays a key fact, the Bill of Rights was written as individual protection, not state protection, and despite many years of jurisprudence to the contrary, is an individual right. Jurisprudence is not dispositive of the issue, as courts ruled slavery was legal for many years. He often advances the notion of "reasonable" safety, but those would need to be subject to proof they are effective, and that is not proffered, nor does it address the core issue of the burden that must be overcome to impose "reasonable" restrictions on a right ensconced in the Bill of Rights - that was seen as a natural, fundamental right, to some, so obvious it need not be written, but rather a natural right from God to be secure in your person, without the means to protect ones self from those larger, stronger, or greater in number, what inalienable rights do you enjoy?
Because this book starts pre-Revolutionary War, it serves as a collective history presenting the "story" of guns in America. Gun rights AND gun control are explored through American history. Even. Balanced. Thoughtful. Very informative.