From Publishers Weekly
Although someone is murdered in the U.S. every 21 minutes, and in more than 50% of the cases by handguns, Americans cling to the gun culture with a tenacity that transcends all reason. Clearly, primordial meanings are at work here, a symbolism as profound as it is irrational. Spitzer discusses the various dimensions of the controversy with a rare balance and maturity. The author first analyzes the Second Amendment, drawing out its legal interpretations (an ``armed militia'' is not quite the same as drug dealers with AK-47s). He then examines the consequences of guns to the nation, from injury to accidents, homicide to suicide; the political battle between the NRA and Handgun Control Inc.; and the history of policy making, culminating in the assault weapons ban and the Brady bill. Spitzer ends the book by suggesting a new public policy based on an international model, one that includes nonproliferation of new weapons and arms control for those that already exist, but whether this form of regulation would work is a moot point. It is not so much the hunting ethos that keeps guns in 70 million American homes but the cultural mythology that champions self-reliance and a frontier ethic.
Copyright 1995 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to the
[Offers] a formula that might move the gun debate off dead center. --E. J. Dionne, Jr., The Washington Post (4/21/99)
The Politics of Gun Control does an excellent job of introducing undergraduates to the policy area in a way that engages them and facilitates the development of their critical and analytical abilities. Robert J. Spitzer admirably covers all of the key matters pertaining to gun control. The book provides a theoretical framework, the necessary discussion of the Second Amendment, a thorough analysis of the problem of guns and gun control, good treatment of the politics of gun control (political parties, interest groups, citizens), and some nice case studies. The book's scholarship is sturdy and does not reflect any appreciable bias. I believe that this is the best text on policy making in a particular area currently in print. --Patrick Pierce, Saint Mary's College
The Spitzer book was the first book I assigned for my junior-level public policy course. It worked just as I had planned because it was a real-life, exciting, controversial example upon which we could build an understanding of the policy process. Spitzer engages the students with the controversy but continuously puts the emphasis on policy issues like the Second Amendment, the gun and antigun lobbies, the complexities of the federal system, and the evolution of a national policy. --Janet Frantz, University of Louisiana at Lafayette