From the Revolutionary War to the national crisis brought about by mass shootings in the 21st century, Guns in America provides a historical look at the controversial debate over gun rights and gun control.
Chapters provide a detailed look at major events in the debate, including: the shift from state militias to federal military; the rise of organized crime; high profile shootings; the War on Drugs; and the development of new commercial weapons. Readers will learn how these events shaped and shifted public opinion on this highly divisive issue. Primary document analysis draws from the courts, the government, and the popular press, all showing how opinion on this issue has changed and how the effort to balance personal liberty and national security has complicated the legality of gun ownership and the ongoing effort to curb gun violence.
This new edition starts with a detailed Introduction that discusses the complexity of the modern gun debate, starting at the founding of the country. A comprehensive Timeline of significant events comes next, beginning with the discovery of gun powder in China in the 9th century and ending with the gun-control positions of leading presidential candidates in 2020.
Following the Timeline are 28 chapters that give a detailed picture of one of the most divisive issues in the court of current public opinion. Calls for stricter laws follow every mass and school shooting, only to be opposed by those who view gun ownership as a right or by those with a financial stake in the gun industry. While gun ownership at the start of the nation was required of all males in order to form defensive militias, guns were also heavily regulated by state and local governments.
The modern gun debate is deeply polarized. Gun-control supporters point to profits - by gun manufacturers and the National Rifle Association - as the primary reason for opposition to gun-control legislation. Gun-rights advocates cite misunderstanding and hostility toward guns on the part of gun-control adherents. As Never Again MSD - the political action committee founded by survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting - breaks down the profit earned by the NRA for each victim, gun-rights supporters contend that proposed legislation will not stop mass shootings and may ultimately result in taking all guns out of the hands of private citizens.
The text of the chapter relates the source documents to their historical context, and details contemporary public opinion. Most source documents are reprinted in their entirety and are clearly distinguished by a shaded title bar. Photos and other images enhance the text, and sidebars provide an often lighter perspective on the time period being discussed. Pull quotes and other visual elements increase accessibility. Each chapter ends with a brief Conclusion, thoughtful Discussion Questions, and a list of Works Used.
This exciting new series offers a wide range of insights into long-standing issues that Americans are most concerned about, and those that have encouraged vigorous debate among politicians and citizens at large. Using carefully-chosen original documents that cover a wide time span, Opinions Throughout History weaves a thoughtful and easy-to-understand analysis of how public opinion is formed and evolves, starting the discussion at an historical, seminal moment, and ending with where we stand today.
This comprehensive, timely volume is a must for large public libraries, university libraries and social science departments, along with high school libraries.
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1. Foundations of Control
The History of Gun Control in Pre-Constitutional America (1600-1791)
2. Lost Meaning
Interpretations of the Second Amendment (1791)
3. Courting the States
Case Law in the States and the Perception of Individual Rights (1619-1879)
4. Armed Rebellion
Slavery, the Civil War, and Gun Control (1865)
5. Shooting Straight
The Creation of the National Rifle Association and the Introduction of the Gun Lobby (1871)
6. Sobering Realities
The Rise of Urban Crime and the Emergence of Government Gun Control (1927)
7. Dealing With the Problem
Roosevelt and the New Deal on Crime (1934)
8. Who Should Own Guns?
The Debate over Federal Registration and Felon Rights (1938)
9. Precedent All Around
United States v. Miller and Second Amendment Interpretation (1939)
10. Fear of a Black Country
The Impact of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements (1967)
11. Assassination Nation
The Gun Control Act of 1968 and Radical Activism (1968)
12. The Problem of Enforcement
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (1972)
13. A Rifle Revolution
The Shift of the NRA’s Stance and Gun Rights (1975-1977)
14. Rolling Back with Reagan
Reagan-Era Conservatism and the Ascendancy of the NRA (1980-1986)
15. The Right to Hide
The Legality of Hidden Weapons (1988)
16. Child Welfare
The Phenomenon of School Shootings and the Impact of Guns on Children (1990)
17. The Far Right to Bear Arms
The Right-Wing Militia Movement and the Gun-Rights Debate (1992)
18. Gun Control Takes a Step Forward
The Jim Brady Handgun Bill (1993)
19. Assault Rifles and Civilian Use
The Assault Rifle Ban in 1994, 2013, and 2020 (1994)
20. Studies under the Gun
The Prohibition on Federal Studies of Gun Violence (1995-1998)
21. Innocence Lost
The Columbine High School Massacre (1999)
22. The Civil Rights Debate
Civil Litigation against Gun Sellers and Manufacturers (2003-2005)
23. Regional Rights
City and State Jurisdiction over Gun Law (2008-2010)
24. Hate Crimes
Gun Rights and Domestic Terrorism (2013-2016)
25. Peripheral Issues
The Debate over Gun Modifications and Controversial Equipment (2017-2019)
26. In the Hands of the Youth
The Emerging Youth Movement and the March for Our Lives (2018)
27. Politics, Race, and Hate
The 2019 Mass Shootings and the Government Response
28. Tons of Guns
Civilian Gun Ownership and Gun Violence (2020)
A Moment of Reflection
- Primary & Secondary Sources
- Historical Snapshots
- About the Author