Gun Rights And Gun Control In America

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In recent decades, gun rights and gun control have been high on the list of issues in the cultural war sharply dividing Americans. Gun control's passionate proponents and opponents clash in the media, city council chambers, state legislatures, Congress, and the courts. What one side perceives as necessary to stem out-of-control violence in urban centers, the other fears as the road to unlawful confiscation and abridgement of constitutional liberties. Fundamentally disagreeing on most of the essentials, the two sides concur that a tremendous amount is at stake. "Guns are lightning rods of American culture," observes law professor Adam Winkler in his "Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America." The "stark, black-or-white, all-or-nothing arguments that have marked the gun debate in America over the past forty years or so" are counterproductive, Winkler insists. "[O]verheated" public debate results in unnecessary polarization and poor public policy. Taking exception to the arguments of both sides, Winkler invokes history to establish what he sees as a middle ground: Throughout American history, Americans have possessed both a gun culture and a gun control culture. Americans' devotion to guns has been accompanied by extensive regulation of those guns. Today, he feels, should be no different. In the early Republic, the Second Amendment was no barrier to strict laws governing firearms. The founding generation kept guns out of the hands of slaves, free blacks, and
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