Newtown. Columbine. Virginia Tech. Tucson. Aurora. Gun violence on a massive scale has become a plague in our society, yet politicians seem more afraid of having a serious conversation about guns than they are of the next horrific shooting. Any attempt to change the status quo, whether to strengthen gun regulations or weaken them, is sure to degenerate into a hysteria that changes nothing. Our attitudes toward guns are utterly polarized, leaving basic questions unasked: How can we reconcile the individual right to own and use firearms with the right to be safe from gun violence? Is keeping guns out of the hands of as many law-abiding Americans as possible really the best way to keep them out of the hands of criminals? And do 30,000 of us really have to die by gunfire every year as the price of a freedom protected by the Constitution?
In Living with Guns, Craig R. Whitney, former foreign correspondent and editor at the New York Times, seeks out answers. He re-examines why the right to bear arms was enshrined in the Bill of Rights, and how it came to be misunderstood. He looks to colonial times, surveying the degree to which guns were a part of everyday life. Finally, blending history and reportage, Whitney explores how twentieth-century turmoil and culture war led to today’s climate of activism, partisanship, and stalemate, in a nation that contains an estimated 300 million gunsand probably at least 60 million gun owners.
In the end, Whitney proposes a new way forward through our gun rights stalemate, showing how we can live with gunsand why, with so many of them around, we have no other choice. read more
I can’t think of another book that has inspired such a fundamental change in the way I think about an important political issue.The only times I have fired a weapon have been while wearing a uniform; as a Boy Scout or with the Marines. I don’t own a firearm but I don’t have a problem with law-abiding citizens owning them. Even so, I have long favored proposed legislation against assault-type weapons in response to the increasing number of mass killings by unhinges individuals. This book has caused me to reassess this opinion.Craig Whitney, a descendant of the same family as Eli Whitney, who brought is us the ability to mass-produce firearms, presents a well-researched study of the roots, laws, arguments and facts involved in the case for and against gun ownership in America. He also, through discussions with key people on both sides of the issue, has come up with a list of proposals that he believes both sides could agree on that would have a significant impact on the rate of gun violence in America. None of his proposals involves restricting the ownership of guns to law-abiding citizens. The problem is that a ban such as currently proposed in Congress would do next to nothing to prevent most of the massacres that have occurred recently. Columbine, Sandy Hook, Tucson, Oakland and UVA were all carried out with weapons that are not covered under the proposed ban. Without high-capacity magazines, most of these weapons are no different than those found legally in many American homes.Whitney’s proposals would, if implemented, have an impact on such crimes. His first proposal, filling in the holes in the national instant background check database, could have prevented the assailants in Tucson and UVA from purchasing the weapons they used. Cracking down on straw purchasers and the dealers who knowingly sell to them could have prevented Columbine.Finally, we must all realize that the second amendment does not give gun dealers and owners carte blanche when it comes to firearms. Even Anton Scalia, the NRA’s staunchest advocate on the Supreme Court, has said. “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.” With gun ownership comes responsibility and that can be legislated.I highly recommend this book regardless of where you stand on this issue.read more
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With America's epidemic of gun violence showing no sign of ebbing, it likely that Whitney's book-length op-ed on gun control will remain relevant for years. A career New York Times reporter and editor, now retired, Whitney has previously written on such diverse subjects as pipe organs (in 2004's All The Stops) and claims no special expertise in constitutional law or firearms. Instead, he writes as a concerned citizen. His primer on gun law history sometimes gets bogged down in minutiae, but also produces fascinating tidbits like the decidedly nonprogressive bent of some early gun control legislation, namely toward African Americans. Less scholarly but still valuable are his memories of when firearms did not divide right and left, and when the NRA was mostly associated with safety training. The book's subtitle does its argument a disservice by implying that Whitney's concern is with defending the Second Amendment, when instead he is against liberals' common resort to the "well-regulated militia" language to claim a constitutional lack of protection for individual gun use. Opposed to arbitrary restrictions, reckless loopholes, NRA fear-mongering, and liberal intolerance of gun culture's law-abiding side, Whitney's presentation of firearm ownership as a protected area of U.S. common, if not Constitutional, law, strikes a conciliatory note that sadly stands little chance of being heeded. Agent: The Strothman Agency. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.