Guns Across America: Reconciling Gun Rules and Rights

ISBN : 9780190621063

Robert Spitzer
288 Pages
140 x 210 mm
Pub date
May 2017
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Gun ownership is as old as the nation, but, as Robert J. Spitzer demonstrates in Guns across America, so is gun regulation. In vast swathes of America, the sanctity of the Second Amendment has become a political third rail, never to be questioned, yet by employing new research on early gun laws, Spitzer reveals that firearms were in fact more strictly regulated in the country's first three centuries than in recent years. The first "gun grabbers" were not 1960s Chablis-drinking liberals, but seventeenth century rum-guzzling pioneers, and their legacy continued through strict gun regulations into the 1920s and beyond. Indeed, as gun rights proponents seek to roll back gun laws and press 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 analysis is 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-obscured truth: gun regulations are in fact as American as apple pie.


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

About the author: 

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 subjects. He is a former president of the Presidency and Executive Politics Section of the APSA.

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