Several high-profile cases in the past three years have revived and reshaped the debate over Americans’ right to bear arms. Most recently, the Supreme Court in 2008’s District of Columbia v. Heller struck down a law banning handguns in the nation’s capitol. But the battle has been going on for centuries. And no wonder – the language of the amendment itself, historian Adam Winkler reminds us, is “maddeningly ambiguous.” Gun control laws have been enacted and retracted, with varying degrees of success, from colonial times until now. In his new book, Winkler takes us on an historical journey of gun rights and restrictions, starting with the founding fathers, continuing through the Wild West, Prohibition, the Black Panther Movement, the Brady Bill and up to the present. In doing so, he illuminates our country’s long and fiery dance around the Second Amendment, as well as the social, racial and other factors that have divided our nation over this locked and loaded issue.
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