This volume analyzes documents that have played a significant role in the attempt to balance the long tradition of gun culture in this country with calls for gun control, including: The Second Amendment; St. George Tucker, Blackstone's Commentaries; No Treason by Lysander Spooner; U.S. v. Miller; District of Columbia v. Heller and Firearms in America: Personal Liberty versus Collective Responsibility.
Defining Documents in American History: The Gun Debate, produced by Salem Price, offers an in-depth analysis of thirty-five documents, including speeches, court rulings, legal texts, blog posts, manifestos, and legislative acts.
The material is organized under four sections:
• The Constitution and Its Aftermath beginning with James Madison’s Federalist Papers; House debates related to the Second Amendment; the Militia Acts of 1792; Blackstone’s Commentaries: With Notes of Reference, to the Constitution and Laws, of the Federal Government of the United States; and of the Commonwealth of Virginia; and a discussion of guns entitled “All Guns Are Not Created Equal.”
• As the Nation Expands includes a ongoing debate regarding the Constitution: A View of the Constitution of the United States; Familiar Exposition of the Constitution of the United States; and The General Principles of Constitutional Law in the United States of America. This section also includes an analysis of some significant court rulings related to gun rights: Johnson v. Tompkins, State v. Huntley, United States v. Cruikshank, and Presser v. Illinois. Open carry ordinances come under scrutiny in Charter and Revised Ordinances of the City of Galveston, and All Ordinances.
• The Modern Court System Weighs In takes a look at a number of significant and often controversial rulings, including United States v. Miller; United States v. Lopez; District of Columbia v. Heller; McDonald v. City of Chicago; Peruta v. County of San Diego; and Young v. Hawaii.
• Responses to the Debate include legislative acts such as the National Firearms Act of 1934; Gun Control Act of 1968; Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act; Florida Legislation “Justifiable Use of Force” (“Stand Your Ground Law”); and Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, as well as a thought-provoking blog post: “An Honest Conversation about Guns.”
In addition to the main documents and analyses, the set also includes an array of supplemental documents, including letters by the Antifederalist, Federal Farmer; an article on race and gun control; the Militia Act of 1903 (known as the Dick Act); discussions of the politics and policies of gun control; the Parkland Student Manifesto; and an article related to realties of the 3D printing of guns.
These documents provide a compelling view of what the ongoing debate surrounding guns and a well-regulated militia, as gun owners and advocates argue in favor of the protection of Second Amendment rights and those in favor of gun control argue for increased efforts to limit gun ownership in an effort to reduce gun violence and mass shootings.
Each Historical Document is supported by a critical essay, written by historians and teachers, that includes a Summary Overview, Defining Moment, About the Author, and Document Themes. An important feature of each essay is a close reading and analysis of the primary source that develops broader themes, such as the author’s rhetorical purpose, social or class position, point of view, and other relevant issues.
Each section begins with a brief introduction that defines questions and problems underlying the subjects addressed in the historical documents. Each essay also includes an Additional Reading section for further research.
• Chronological List arranges all documents by year.
• Web Resources is an annotated list of websites that offer valuable supplemental resources.
• Bibliography lists helpful articles and books for further study.