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  • Originally published 05/09/2013

    Alan Brinkley: Fighting the Gun World

    Now, almost five months after the killing of 20 first-graders in Newtown, Connecticut, riveted the nation, Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is talking about trying to resurrect his bill on gun background checks that was defeated in the Senate last month.

  • Originally published 05/06/2013

    Incoming NRA president calls Civil War the "War Of Northern Aggression"

    "The NRA was started, 1871, right here in New York state. It was started by some Yankee generals who didn’t like the way my southern boys had the ability to shoot in what we call the 'War of Northern Aggression.'  Now, y’all might call it the Civil War, but we call it the War of Northern Aggression down south."

  • Originally published 04/18/2013

    The Senate's Shameful Lack of Courage on Guns

    “These [46] senators made their decision based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association."--Gabby Giffords

  • Originally published 04/03/2013

    Jonathan Zimmerman: Liberal Hypocrisy on Bloomberg's Moneyed Fight for Gun Control

    Jonathan Zimmerman is a professor of history and education at New York University. He is the author of “Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory” (Yale University Press).Bloomberg is buying another term in office! It’s an outrage!That’s what lots of my fellow liberals said when billionaire Michael Bloomberg spent $102 million of his own cash – about $174 per vote – to win re-election as New York mayor in 2009. And they were right. Unchecked money turns politics into a corrupt poker game, where the well-to-do get to stack the deck.So why aren’t these same critics complaining, now that Mr. Bloomberg is showering his millions on candidates who back gun control and same-sex marriage? Because liberals like these causes, of course.

  • Originally published 03/29/2013

    Clayton E. Cramer: Do Background Checks for Gun Purchases Actually Work?

    Clayton E. Cramer teaches history at the College of Western Idaho. His most recent book is My Brother Ron: A Personal and Social History of the Deinstitutionalization of the Mentally Ill (2012). He is raising capital for a feature film about the Oberlin Rescue of 1858.I have been curious regarding how little effort the gun-control crowd has been exerting to prove that mandatory background checks work. There are, after all, six states that require all-private party sales to go through a background check, and ten states that require it for all handgun purchases. If driven to advocate for mandatory checks, you would think the case studies of these sixteen states must have provided plenty of evidence that such laws reduce murder rates, and thus affected your decision. Right?I found this testimony to the U.S. Senate by Dr. Daniel Webster, a public health professor, from a few weeks back – he claims that Missouri’s repeal of its permit-to-purchase law (which required police approval of all firearms purchases) increased murder rates. His testimony claims that the increase was directly tied to the repeal of the law:

  • Originally published 03/28/2013

    Akinyele Umoja: Black Ambivalence About Gun Control

    Akinyele Umoja is an associate professor and chair of the department of African-American studies at Georgia State University. He is the author of  We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement, to be published by New York University Press in April.The gun-control debate is complex, particularly as it relates to African descendants in the United States. As with almost every other issue, the racial dimensions cannot be dismissed.From the beginning, slave-holding society fought to block enslaved Africans’ access to weapons, to reduce the likelihood of insurrection. After emancipation, blacks sought arms not only to hunt but to protect themselves from white-supremacist terror. Since the “right to bear arms” was denied them during their enslavement, emancipated blacks associated gun ownership with citizenship and liberty. But segregationists continued trying to disarm blacks after emancipation.

  • Originally published 03/26/2013

    Gun supporters use of Nazi, Hitler references irritates historians

    When the president of Ohio's state school board posted her opposition to gun control, she used a powerful symbol to make her point: a picture of Adolf Hitler. When a well-known conservative commentator decried efforts to restrict guns, he argued that if only Jews in Poland had been better armed, many more would have survived the Holocaust.In the months since the Newtown, Conn., school massacre, some gun rights supporters have repeatedly compared U.S. gun control efforts to Nazi restrictions on firearms, arguing that limiting weapons ownership could leave Americans defenseless against homegrown tyrants.But some experts say that argument distorts a complex and contrary history. In reality, scholars say, Hitler loosened the tight gun laws that governed Germany after World War I, even as he barred Jews from owning weapons and moved to confiscate them.

  • Originally published 03/25/2013

    Steven Conn: The Fetish of States' Rights

    Steven Conn, editor of To Promote the General Welfare: The Case for Big Government (Oxford University Press USA/2012), is professor and director of Public History at Ohio State University. Ronald Reagan kicked off his presidential campaign in 1980 with a speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi. It's worth remembering, especially in light of several recent events, why that was so important.Philadelphia was a small sleepy town like dozens of others in the South, brutally segregated according to Mississippi law and customs, just like dozens of others. It became nationally famous -- and symbolic -- when three civil rights workers doing advance work for Mississippi Freedom Summer in 1964 were murdered by some of the local white supremacists. They instantly became martyrs to a heroic cause.Sixteen years later, candidate Reagan didn't mention James Cheney, Andrew Goodman or Michael Schwerner in his speech. Instead, Reagan announced: "I believe in states' rights," and he promised the all-white Mississippi crowd that he would "restore to states and local governments the power that properly belongs to them."

  • Originally published 02/21/2013

    Why bogus quotations matter in gun debate

    (CNN) -- The Founding Fathers are frequently quoted in the gun control debate, but many of those quotations turn out to be fake.The most popular comment on a recent story about gun control featured a purported quotation from Thomas Jefferson. More than 2,000 votes pushed it to the top."When governments fear the people, there is liberty," reads the quotation. "When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."

  • Originally published 02/07/2013

    What's Still Missing From the Gun Control Debate

    Image via Shutterstock.Originally appeared on the Huffington Post.Behind the gun control debate lies a deeper one that we need to have. It would show that the danger to our freedom isn't coming from government censors and conspiracies but from marketing sensors that are bypassing our brains and hearts on the way to our gut instincts and wallets.

  • Originally published 02/07/2013

    Did gun control enable the Holocaust?

    Editor's Note: No, it did not.As gun control moved toward the top of the American agenda after the Dec. 14 massacre at a Connecticut elementary school, gun rights activists began to invoke a curious analogy: the Holocaust.On television, radio and in letters to the editor, the argument went that Hitler’s gun control laws left European Jews defenseless, and that the Holocaust would not have happened — or at least would not have been as catastrophic in scale — had Jews had guns....Many American Jews and others have had enough of the claim, and are denouncing as specious the comparison between the Third Reich law that forbade Jews to own guns and current gun control proposals under consideration by President Obama, Congress and state legislatures.The Anti-Defamation League “has always strenuously objected to the use of Nazi analogies to advance any kind of political debate, including the gun control debate,” said Deborah Lauter, the group’s civil rights director. “We believe it’s historically inaccurate and incredibly insensitive, particularly to Holocaust survivors and their families.”...

  • Originally published 01/29/2013

    Actually, Scalia's Legal Logic Permits Gun Control

    Image via Wiki Commons.In the wake of the mass killing of schoolchildren in Newtown, Connecticut, there's been renewed national debate on gun control, especially placing restrictions on individual access to military-style weapons.

  • Originally published 01/25/2013

    Jim Sleeper and Daniel J.H. Greenwood: To Stop Gun Violence, We Need to Remember We Can Regulate Corporate Speech and Advertising

    Jim Sleeper, a lecturer in Political Science at Yale, is a former New York Daily News columnist and the author of The Closest of Strangers. Daniel J.H. Greenwood, professor of law at Hofstra, writes on corporate governance and coauthored a brief in the Citizens United case.The Obama Administration's gun-control agenda is unlikely to prevail unless it's accompanied by a wrenching national struggle on two fronts: re-thinking the "well regulated" part of the Second Amendment, and curbing paid corporate gun glorification that undermines "free" speech under the First Amendment. As the president said in his inaugural address, we must re-impose rules of fair play on markets.National Rifle Association vice-president Wayne LaPierre was right to charge that violent video-games such as Doom and Call of Duty seed social storms of fear and mistrust with gladiatorial spectacles that have been virtual instruction manuals for mass shooters in Colorado, Connecticut and Norway, who were inveterate players of those games.

  • Originally published 01/24/2013

    Ira Chernus: Gun Ownership as Sin -- A Strategic, Secular Proposal for Gun Reform

    Ira Chernus is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Colorado and author of “MythicAmerica: Essays.” He blogs at MythicAmerica.us.When you look at a gun, do you see danger or safety? It all depends on the angle you’re looking from, risk perception experts say. The gun control debate is ultimately a clash of competing worldviews, and it’s very fraught. Each side draws on symbolic narratives—I would call them myths—with deep roots in the American past.The big challenge for gun-control advocates will be to summon up a master-myth, a story that takes aim at the heart of the great American love affair with guns—and that will be a tricky shot.First, a tour of the contested terrain.Have Peacemaker, Will Travel

  • Originally published 01/22/2013

    Missouri GOP Rep.: Japan Didn't Invade U.S. in World War II Because of Armed Populace

    Editor's Note: Today's Bachmann Award comes courtesy of HNN editor and associate professor of Japanese history at Pittsburg State University Jonathan Dresner.Cadets in the Imperial Japanese Army, circa 1934.There are good reasons to bring Japan into the gun control debate in the United States: the relative success of firearms regulation in Japan, the recent rise of gun violence connected to organized crime, the history of weapons-carrying elites, etc. But WWII had nothing whatsoever to do with gun rights, gun control, or the 2nd Amendment.Why bring this up? Because of Ed Emery, Republican representative to the Missouri state legislature from Lamar, MO. In a video produced last April, Rep. Emery said:

  • Originally published 01/16/2013

    In gun debate, even language can be loaded

    WASHINGTON — When the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence wanted to promote more restrictions on firearms after the Connecticut school shootings in December, it turned to a firm to help publicize its position. The firm’s name? Point Blank Public Affairs....The ubiquitous nature of such language has caused people on both sides of the emotional debate in recent weeks to take back, or at least think twice about the phrases they use, lest they inadvertently cause offense in a moment of heightened sensitivity.“It’s almost second nature,” said Andrew Arulanandam, director of public affairs for the National Rifle Association. “They’re such mainstream phrases, you almost have to check yourself and double-check yourself.”But it also says something about the long American romance with guns and the nation’s self image. “All of that ties into the frontier tradition, rugged individualism, a single American with a flintlock or a gun of some kind holding off the Indians or fighting off the British,” said Robert Spitzer, a scholar of gun control at the State University of New York at Cortland....

  • Originally published 07/09/2002

    Could Bellesiles's Problems Undermine Gun Control?

    Emory University recently announced that an outside panel of scholars will examine Michael Bellesiles’s Arming America—with results to be announced this summer. If the investigation discredits Bellesiles then it could hurt the arguments filed by gun-control advocates in a major Second Amendment case ( US vs Emerson) that is coming before the Supreme Court.