Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America [NOOK Book]

Overview

A provocative history that reveals how guns—not abortion, race, or religion—are at the heart of America's cultural divide.


Gunfight is a timely work examining America’s four-centuries-long political battle over gun control and the right to bear arms. In this definitive and provocative history, Adam Winkler reveals how guns—not abortion, race, or religion—are at the heart of America’s cultural divide. Using the landmark 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller—which invalidated ...

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Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America

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Overview

A provocative history that reveals how guns—not abortion, race, or religion—are at the heart of America's cultural divide.


Gunfight is a timely work examining America’s four-centuries-long political battle over gun control and the right to bear arms. In this definitive and provocative history, Adam Winkler reveals how guns—not abortion, race, or religion—are at the heart of America’s cultural divide. Using the landmark 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller—which invalidated a law banning handguns in the nation’s capital—as a springboard, 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Winkler, a professor of constitutional law at UCLA, mines 400 years of debate over gun control in America to analyze the Supreme Court's landmark 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller in this timely and persuasive history. Dismissing the extremist "gun nuts" and "gun grabbers" who have dominated the gun debate for decades, the author clearly shows that the right to bear arms and gun control have always coexisted in the U.S.—even on the frontier where guns and gun regulation were widespread. The brainchild of a pair of libertarian lawyers, the Heller case revolved around the District of Columbia's total ban on handguns and the contention of Heller's lawyers that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual's right to own guns. Clearly mirroring the impasse over the issue, it offered the courts a rare opportunity to point toward a historically valid compromise position. In 2008, after five years of dramatic litigation, the Supreme Court struck down D.C.'s handgun ban and recognized the plaintiffs' individual rights theory while still noting that many forms of gun control are constitutional. In the tradition of 1976's Simple Justice and 1964's Gideon's Trumpet, Winkler skillfully weaves together history and contemporary jurisprudence to explore a contentious issue of constitutional interpretation. (Sept.)
Wall Street Journal
“Adam Winkler tells the remarkable story of the rag-tag group of libertarian lawyers who challenged nearly a century of lower-court precedent to bring a clear-cut Second Amendment case to the Supreme Court. . . . . 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.”
Los Angeles Times
A potboiler of constitutional interpretation and is both a vital history and an intellectually satisfying, emotionally rewarding tale of a great case.— Jim Newton
Eric Arnesen
“A succinct and fascinating introduction to the legal and historical issues at the heart of the gun debate.”
Jim Newton - Los Angeles Times
“A potboiler of constitutional interpretation and is both a vital history and an intellectually satisfying, emotionally rewarding tale of a great case.”
Los Angeles Times - Jim Newton
“A potboiler of constitutional interpretation and is both a vital history and an intellectually satisfying, emotionally rewarding tale of a great case.”
Kirkus Reviews

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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393082296
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/12/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 361
  • Sales rank: 263,509
  • File size: 658 KB

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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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2012

    Gunfight

    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.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2012

    Mr. Winkler, uses as a law professor of mine would say, many &qu

    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?

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2013

    This is an Important Book

    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.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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