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

4.1 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews

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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. "

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"

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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (September 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393077411
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393077414
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,017 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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I am a life member of the NRA and a gun rights supporter. But I have found that this book took a reasoned approach and I learned a lot. I still believe pretty much as I have, but I understand why I have changed over the years. The author says it early on. Gun rights supporters now reject ANY new gun control laws, because so many laws have been proposed and/or passed that do little or nothing to curb crime or violence and have the intent of just making it harder for gun owners, and "some" gun control advocates really want to be rid of guns altogether.
I comes down to to point that most gun rights people don't trust the government to not continually chip away at gun ownership, even when there is no basis that legal gun ownership is the problem.
I'm 63 years old. What this book has made me want to do is sit down with people (not lawmakers) that have opposing views and discuss our differences.
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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Although the author is not totally unbiased about the gun issue, he doesn't let his feelings on the subject become a burden. All in all this is a great coverage of the gun rights subject. Even though I lived through a lot of the history he discusses, I learned a lot.
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Great beginning for a reasoned conversation about gun ownership rights and gun safety for the public, gun owners and non owners. Very readable and factual. As an almost life long gun owner, hunter and sport shooter (trap), I am very concerned that we have not been able to have a careful, non emotional debate about how to ensure gun ownership rights and to deal with the public health issue of 30 plus thousand gun deaths a year. This book allows for a discussion based on facts to begin.
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