Backstory: The Debate Over Gun Control in America

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Adam Winkler examines America's four-centuries-long political battle over gun control and the right to bear arms. Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America is centered on the landmark 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller, which invalidated a law banning handguns in the nation's capital, and looks at the Founding Fathers, the Second Amendment, gun rights advocates and gun control lobbyists, and the debate over guns.


Adam Winkler

Comments [11]


When the 2nd amendment was drafted, people owned guns for self defense, inlcuding defending their towns. Every gun owner was in the militia for that reason. Today, Perhaps gun owners should be required to be in military service, even if in the reserves? That adheres to the spirit of the 2nd amendment.

Jul. 24 2012 09:35 PM
shm224 from nyc

Can't believe that wnyc is still on ronpaul the extremist campaign.

Paul said it's responsilbity of airliners to arm their security personnel to protect their passengers and private property, not TSA.

Oct. 22 2011 09:14 AM
AmericansForGuns from USA

A man comes into a room of 50 people with the intent to kill them all.

Our idiot Brady nut says its too dangerous for us to carry a gun because we MIGHT shoot someone...but this lunatic IS GOING to shoot someone...MANY someones.

Do these Brady nuts think *I* am going to care if *I* get shot by a good guys bullet as opposed to being MURDERED outright?

Not hardly.

Id rather take my chance with a STRAY bullet than one AIMED

Oct. 21 2011 10:57 AM
AmericansForGuns from USA

The gents statements are pretty accurate.
My states Constitution is VERY clear about the matter.

§ 1.04 Bearing arms; standing armies; military powers (1851)
>>>The people have the right to bear arms for their defense and security;<<< but standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and shall not be kept up; and the military shall be in strict subordination to the civil power.

Pretty clear. Not ambiguous in the least for man who can read and reason.

Oct. 21 2011 10:46 AM
AmericansForGuns from USA

“collective” or “individual” right?

The right to bear arms.
“collective” or “individual” right?

I have read some articles that say that the right to bear arms is a ‘collective’ right, not an individual one.
Now, on the surface that sounds…..just about as absurd as it does underneath.

The ‘collective’ is, by default, comprised of ‘individuals’. Who else would make up any ‘collective’.
How can the collective have a right that was not also the right of the individual?
If we have a group of 1000 people, are they allowed to then own guns?
How about 100 people? Is that a ‘collective’?
Is 10 enough?
How about 3?

It would seem that a ‘collective’ right is actually no right at all if the individuals within that collective can be individually stripped of their rights.
If this ‘collective’ of 1000 have a right to own guns, can individually the not have the right?
How, precisely, would that work ?
If there is no right individually, then there is no right collectively.

The view that the right to bear arms is meant collectively is entirely without meaning. In order for the GROUP to have a right, the individuals within that group MUST be endowed with that right individually or there can be no right collectively.
The view that a right, any right, is a collective right is simply ridiculous and ultimately has no meaning whatsoever because if the rights do not belong to each individual then each individual can be stripped of their rights individually until no one in the group has that right.

The entire thing is preposterous.
The ‘collective’ viewpoint is simply a way of saying that a person does not believe in the right at all, but is just too much of a coward to state it plainly.

Oct. 21 2011 10:34 AM
AmericansForGuns from USA

Who are the 2nd Amendment ‘Militia’ ?

The “militia” is clearly defined right in the Second Amendment itself…and in the other rights presented in the same document.
The Second uses ‘the PEOPLE”, as do other parts of these rights and documents, and when it does so it MEANS the PEOPLE…the general populace.

*IF* it MEANT anything OTHER THAN the PEOPLE, then the document itself is entire worthless as while it would be acknowledging (rather then ‘giving’ as some erroneously suppose) these rights it would be for NO one that matters anyway.

The PEOPLE in this document means the PEOPLE.
Where these ‘rights’ are acknowledged by this document it is clearly the rights of the PEOPLE it IS recognizing.

Thus the 2A’s usage of ‘the PEOPLE’ unequivocally intends to ACKNOWLEDGE that the RIGHT of the PEOPLE shall not be infringed.

The aforementioned ‘militia’ then, by default, is very easily and very clearly intended and understood, except by all but the blind and play acting Brady spies, to BE ‘the PEOPLE’ of whom are being reference concerning this RIGHT to bear arms that shall not be infringed.
And just WHO did we see bearing arms coming to the defense of this young country ? The PEOPLE!

Common sense.
There…see how easy that was?

Oct. 21 2011 10:33 AM
Jim from the Bronx

NRA fundraising calls talk about President Obama trying to undermine the 2nd amendment by working with the United Nations on a Security Council resolution that would circumvent the 2nd amendment. Is there anything even slightly resembling an attempt to deal with gun control in the UN?

Oct. 20 2011 01:49 PM

thanks, Leonard. you put Brian to shame (he ignores us).

Oct. 20 2011 01:44 PM
Harry Wms. Harper from NYC

I don't find the 2nd Amendment ambiguous at all, because (as Senator Sam Irvine famously said in the Watergate hearings), "I understand the plain meaning of the English language as my Moma taught it to me!" The individual right to bear arms is plainly conditioned by the militia requirement. That is what it says, you have to torture the language to have it any other way. The question becomes, just how conditioned? That is the proper starting point.

Oct. 20 2011 01:25 PM

that first part went by fast, but did Adam explain what the "well regulated militia" part was intended to require?

Oct. 20 2011 01:20 PM
Ken from Soho

On the contrary, I support the right to ARM BEARS, in order to help protect them from murderous hunters!

Oct. 20 2011 01:16 PM

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