The Gun Dilemma: How History Is Against Expanded Gun Rights (Hardcover)
An informed and sophisticated look at the current debate between gun laws and gun rights in America. Contemporary gun controversies are deeply rooted in our history, yet much of that history is unknown, ignored, or distorted. This is all the more important because a new gun rights movement is pressing to expand the definition of gun rights well beyond the standard set by the Supreme Court in its landmark, controversial Heller ruling from 2008. These activists' efforts have found a receptive audience among a new generation of very conservative federal judges cultivated in part for their professed adherence to the doctrine of constitutional Originalism and fealty to an expansive reading of gun rights. In The Gun Dilemma, Robert J. Spitzer examines this "gun rights 2.0" movement in the light of a host of gun controversies: assault weapons, ammunition magazines, silencers, public gun brandishing and display, and the emergent Second Amendment sanctuary movement. Given the importance of actual gun law history to this debate, Spitzer draws from the historical record to illuminate several contemporary and emergent gun controversies that may well make their way to the Supreme Court. Revealing and illuminating as that history is, he argues that we should not be straitjacketed by that history, but rather informed by it as the nation struggles with how to frame its gun policies. By utilizing novel information sources to explore both gun law history and current debates, The Gun Dilemma provides an informed and sophisticated challenge to the ascendant originalists who appear to be set on enshrining in law a radical libertarian vision of gun rights.
Robert J. Spitzer is Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science Emeritus at the State University of New York, College at Cortland. He is the author of sixteen books, including four on the presidency and six on gun policy. He is also Series Editor for the book series "American Constitutionalism" for SUNY Press, and the "Presidential Briefing Book" series for Routledge. In 2003, he received the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Scholarship. Spitzer is the author of over 700 articles, papers, and op-eds appearing in many books, journals, newspapers, and web sites on a variety of American politics subjects. He served as President of the Presidents and Executive Politics Section of the American Political Science Association and as a member of the New York State Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution. He has testified before Congress on several occasions. Spitzer is often quoted and interviewed by American and international news outlets, including The TodayShow, Good Morning America, ABC Nightly News, PBS's News Hour, MSNBC's All In With Chris Hayes, Countdown With Keith Olbermann, CNN, NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross, The Diane Rehm Show, 1A, documentary films "Guns and Mothers" (PBS, 2003), "Under the Gun" (Katie Couric Film Company, Epix, 2016), "The Price of Freedom" (Flatbush Pictures/Tribeca Films, 2021) and media outlets in over twenty countries. His articles have appeared in such publications as the New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, CNN.com, the New York Daily News, Time Magazine, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, and Salon, among others. He was also a visiting professor at Cornell University for thirty years.