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Out of Range: Why the Constitution Can't End the Battle over Guns (Inalienable Rights) Hardcover – September 5, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0195304244 ISBN-10: 0195304241

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Out of Range: Why the Constitution Can't End the Battle over Guns (Inalienable Rights) + A Matter of Interpretation: Federal Courts and the Law (University Center for Human Values) + Making Our Democracy Work: A Judge's View
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Product Details

  • Series: Inalienable Rights
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (September 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195304241
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195304244
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,408,682 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

For Harvard Law professor Tushnet, the long-lived culture war over the Second Amendment is less about the Constitution than "how we understand ourselves as Americans." That said, the lion's share of the book is dedicated to a penetrating textual analysis of the Second Amendment, "the right to bear arms," one of the most vociferously and inconclusively argued aspects of the U.S. Constitution. Both sides are unyielding on their respective viewpoints: gun rights advocates rely on "originalist" Constitutional interpretation, invoking the founders' original intention to provide a means of defense against government oppression; gun control supporters argue from a collective rights perspective, looking at gun ownership like automobile ownership, a privilege for lawmakers to grant, regulate and revoke as needed. Tushnet demonstrates how little water both narratives hold, and notes that even accepting "the best versions" of gun-rights proponents' arguments, the Constitution still allows for "substantial amounts of gun control." On the other hand, Tushnet wearily concludes that gun control measures have had only marginal effect on gun violence. A number of solutions are proposed, such as providing education and jobs to at-risk youth, but Tushnet's greater contribution could be to help end the unproductive semantic debates that have kept the issue hot but its resolution out of reach.
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Review


"Brisk, even-handed, and illuminating discussion...Tushnet has provided a balanced, intelligent, and exceedingly useful guide to the Second Amendment."--The New Republic


"Carefully analyzing text, history, precedent, and ramifications for public policy, Tushnet demonstrates how to wrestle with a difficult question of constitutional interpretation. His lively book will interest everyone who wants to learn how scholars and courts cut through competing claims to decide what the Constitution means."--Carl T. Bogus, Professor of Law, Roger Williams University


"Timely and astute, Out of Range makes us think through the divisive legal arguments about the Second Amendment and face our cultural war over guns."--Joan Burbick, author of Gun Show Nation: Gun Culture and American Democracy


"Brisk, even-handed, and illuminating discussion... Tushnet has provided a balanced, intelligent, and exceedingly useful guide to the Second Amendment."--The New Republic


"Carefully analyzing text, history, precedent, and ramifications for public policy, Tushnet demonstrates how to wrestle with a difficult question of constitutional interpretation. His lively book will interest everyone who wants to learn how scholars and courts cut through competing claims to decide what the Constitution means."--Carl T. Bogus, Professor of Law, Roger Williams University


"Timely and astute, Out of Range makes us think through the divisive legal arguments about the Second Amendment and face our cultural war over guns."--Joan Burbick, author of Gun Show Nation: Gun Culture and American Democracy


"Tushnet (Harvard Law School) writes about the Second Amendment with awareness of what is going on in the courts, at law schools, and in the streets--or in this case, the woods... The book evinces considerable immersion into the worlds of people who own guns, including what they believe, where they live, and how they argue... Highly recommended."--CHOICE



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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By G.X. Larson on July 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
In 2008 the Supreme Court of the United States decided its first major Second Amendment case in about 70 years. The Second Amendment reads: "A well regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." To the uninitiated, the wording of the amendment does not provide an entirely clear meaning: the "people" have the right to keep and bear arms, but who are the "people"?; does the word "militia" refer to the people?; the said right shall not be infringed, but then how are the people/militia to be well regulated? More generally (and controversially), does the amendment guarantee individuals the right to keep and bear arms, or, instead, militias? In Washington, DC v. Heller (2008), the plaintiff brought suit against the federal district, claiming that DC's strict handgun laws (making it nearly illegal to own a handgun) violated the plaintiff's right to keep and bear arms, as guaranteed by the Second Amendment. The federal trial court ruled in favor of the respondent, ruling that the Second Amendment only guarantees the right of militias to keep and bear arms. The appellate court reversed the initial ruling, saying that individuals are guaranteed the right to keep and bear arms.

The case then went to the Supreme Court. Finally, it was thought, the Court would settle an issue that had been near the core of modern American politics; indeed, the pro-gun-rights / pro-gun-control cleavage has been near the heart of major elections for quite some time, with conservatives opposing gun control and liberals campaigning on stiffer gun control policies to "make our streets safe".
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By CJ on July 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Not a bad addition, a fairly cool analysis to an overheated debate item. The author will probably not please many people, as he concludes that the constitution really does not say a whole lot about modern gun restrictions, taking swipes at both pro and anti gun arguments. This book is short and not particularly in-depth on references.
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Format: Hardcover
Out of Range is outdated when it comes to case law because it was written before the Supreme Court’s landmark decisions (starting with Heller, 2008) breathing life into the Second Amendment. Yet Professor Tushnet’s dispassionate analysis of the issue nonetheless remains valuable and persuasive. Partisans on both sides of the gun issue will find some support for their viewpoints, but Tushnet makes clear that the gun issue is not so black and white as activists would wish.

A professor of law at Harvard Law School, Tushnet has four conclusions:

1. There are two plausible meanings of the Second Amendment, each with good support. Since this book was written, the SCOTUS has settled for now, by 5-4 decisions, on the originalist view about what the Second Amendment means.

2. The type of constitutional interpretation people prefer usually depends upon their policy preference on guns.

3. Research is inconclusive about the efficacy of competing gun policies, especially the kind of policies that have any chance of passing the highly contentious political process. Proponents of competing interpretations of the Second Amendment tend to accept the studies that support their policy preferences, and to criticize the flaws in studies that don't.

4. Our views about guns are based more upon our view of who we want to be as a nation than upon what the Second Amendment says: it's a culture war issue. People with an egalitarian cultural orientation are far more likely to favor gun control than people with an individualistic or hierarchical view who tend to oppose gun control. In other words, our viewpoint on guns isn't really shaped by the research on effective policy but by our cultural view.
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