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Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America Hardcover – September 19, 2011


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Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America + More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws, Third Edition (Studies in Law and Economics) + The Second Amendment
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 361 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (September 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393077411
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393077414
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #225,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“In Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America, Adam Winkler tells the remarkable story of the rag-tag group of libertarian lawyers who challenged nearly a century of lower-court precedent to bring a clear-cut Second Amendment case to the Supreme Court.

This is an engaging and provocative legal drama about the six-year courtroom journey of District of Columbia v Heller and a fascinating survey of the misunderstood history of guns and gun control in America.” (Wall Street Journal)

“A succinct and fascinating introduction to the legal and historical issues at the heart of the gun debate.” (Eric Arnesen, professor of history at George Washington University and fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars - Chicago Tribune)

About the Author

Adam Winkler, a professor of constitutional law at the University of California, Los Angeles, has been featured on CNN and in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the New Republic. A columnist for the Daily Beast, he lives in Los Angeles.

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Customer Reviews

Very well researched book that will leave both sides of the gun debate upset.
M. Farouk
They would better spend it on "The Founders' Second Amendment--Origins of the Right to Bear Arms" by Stephen P. Halbrook.
Wildcat1961
The book is devoid of the aspersions on one faction or another that are so common in books on gun control.
Richard Gary

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

159 of 210 people found the following review helpful By John R. Lott Jr. on October 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The most disturbing thing about this book is how Winkler distorts what others have written. Take this example. Clayton Cramer has written extensively on the history of concealed handgun laws. Winkler claims that Cramer didn't believe that concealed handgun laws were motivated by racism, but, according to Clayton, the laws in the late 1800s were in fact clearly motivated by racism. When I read this discussion I called up Clayton just to make sure that I hadn't completely gotten things backwards in my mind and he assured me that I hadn't. Clayton also rejected the notion that the concealed handgun laws adopted then were done as a way of "reducing public violence" as Winkler writes. It is hard to read Clayton's work and get these things so backwards. You can disagree with Clayton and explain those disagreements, but don't claim that he wrote the opposite of what he actually wrote. I hope that I am wrong, but this discussion comes across as an attempt to separate gun control from its racist past in the South.
The book also does Clayton a real disservice by completely ignoring his role in the Bellesiles episode.
From the first hand knowledge that I have about the Heller and McDonald cases, it is very clear that Adam also got much of that recent history wrong.
The book's discussion of my own work on concealed handguns is littered with inaccuracies, but one can see what Winkler does to Cramer research as a warning for how facts can be reversed in this book. In my case, at best Winkler didn't read the first edition of More Guns, Less Crime very carefully (he doesn't cite either the second and third editions) -- this is only a problem given that he is writing about the debate over my research.
I recently debated Adam on KPCC, a public radio station in Southern California. A copy of the interview as well as some of my comments on a few obviously incorrect claims by Adam are available on my website here [...]
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48 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Richard Gary on January 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is a highly informative account, and expert analysis, of the tension between the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States (the right to keep and bear arms) and gun control. Adam Winkler, the author, is a constitutional law professor who is able to explain important legal principles in a way that makes them easy for the non-expert to understand. More important, however, he knows how to engage the reader and make a book about a policy debate fascinating.

Winkler starts with case of District of Columbia v. Heller as it is about to be announced by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008, and he then describes how the case was conceived, litigated, and finally decided. District of Columbia v. Heller is the case in which the Supreme Court held for the first time that the Second Amendment protects individual ownership of firearms and in which the District of Columbia's prohibition on private ownership of handguns was struck down as unconstitutional. As Winkler goes through the history of the case, he weaves in valuable historical context for the adoption of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and early gun control measures, why they were adopted, and the development of the NRA's policy on the Second Amendment (its vociferousness is recent, dating to the late seventies).

The book is devoid of the aspersions on one faction or another that are so common in books on gun control. Winkler so fairly and accurately outlines the point of view of each faction in the debate over gun control that when he describes your point of view (whatever that may be) you can say "Yeah, he got that right!" and when he describes that of those you don't agree with, you can say it again.
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25 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Patrick on January 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you've been looking for an analysis on gun control in America from an all-too-rare neutral viewpoint then Gun Control hits the spot. I'll leave it to the others to go more in depth concerning the details; however, I'd like to point something out concerning the those who wrote negative reviews. Most are clearly from the anti-gun control side who consider this book to the pro-gun control. I find it difficult to come to that conclusion. The whole point of the book (made time and time again) is to demonstrate that for as long as people have had guns there has been gun control laws proposed and/or in effect. Whether these laws were rational or effective isn't the, really, the point. Instead, it is to give some idea of the history and logic used to form those laws. If you consider this information to be an endorsement of gun control laws, well, I can't help you there.

Really, Winkler walks on eggshells the whole book not to come down on one side or the other concerning this debate. It's pretty hard to contort the information in this book into a recommendation for gun control. To say that such an analysis screams of bias in an understatement.

P.S. This review was written by an owner of multiple firearms (of the extremely "tactical" variety).
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By RWW on January 18, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Whether you are for or against gun legislation, this book is for you. Be forewarned, there will be times it looks like the book is supporting one side, then other times where it seems to be supporting the other. It's not going to change your opinion, but that's not really the intent of the book. Rather, it helps to make your views better informed by showing the history of the changes in attitudes over the years, and their causes. The book uses the recent Supreme Court case dealing with the handgun ban in Washington D.C. to guide you through America's history starting with Pre-Revolution to present day. It will show how the Second Amendment, and laws and government attitudes since it's ratification, support both controls and liberties. It's not a tit-for-tat presentation. In other words, the book will not say if you look at this it shows support for individual rights but if you look at this it shows support for stricter laws. Rather, it looks at one period at a time and how it influences American views at the time. I definitely recommend this book to everybody, because whatever your stance, it will educate you on our history, and make you better informed on both sides of the argument.
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