Gun Control: Preventing Violence or Crushing Constitutional Rights? (USA Today's Debate: Voices and Perspectives)
By: Matt Doeden
Publisher: Twenty First Century Books
Publication Date: October 2011
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: January 2012
The nation reeled in a state of shock when they heard Jared Lee Loughner had lifted his 9mm Glock, took aim at Gabrielle Giffords, and pulled the trigger. Loughner wasn't through with his rampage and quickly turned on the nearby crowd. This unfortunate incident led gun-control activists to claim the incident was "an example of the harm guns can do when they're inadequately regulated." The gun rights debate had begun in earnest once again. Historically the debate over weaponry was nothing new. In fact in the 1100s, there was a hot debate over the use of the lethal crossbow. Yes indeed, there are lethal weapons, but where do we draw the line against those that can be legally used and those that should be banned?
The evolution of gun technology rapidly advanced, "from the 1500s through the 1700s” and as a result "firearms changed warfare permanently." When colonists settled our country, guns were a necessary means of survival as they were used to hunt and protect themselves from the threat of the lawless. When gun laws began to be sculpted, debate had already begun. The new nation now had to decide between "limited gun rights" or "the right to bear arms." Historians were of the belief that when the Second Amendment was drafted the intent "was to allow militias to exist." Others firmly believe that it "refers to the public's collective right to own arms, not to individual gun rights." Which is it?
In the meantime, as the years began to pass, "gun technology advanced" without challenge to the law or the Second Amendment. The National Rifle Association (NRA), an organization destined to protect the rights of individual gun owners, was founded in 1871. In 1934, The National Firearms Acts attempted to control gun violence, but proved ineffective. In this book you will be able to take a look at both sides of the debate as time passed and opinions became more forceful. You'll learn about the Gun Control Act of 1968, the Bureau of Alcohol, tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the power of the NRA, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, statistical information, the Castle Doctrine Law, reasons people want to own guns, who is denied legal access to guns, the Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) of 1994, and many other informative facets of the gun control debate.
The book is very well researched and does not purport to claim that one opinion on gun control is more valid than another. There are numerous informative sidebars and reproductions of actual USA TODAY articles. For example, there is an article from February 19, 2008 that discusses how states began to turn over records "to a federal database of mentally ill people barred from owning guns." This very "readable" book could easily become a stepping stone for classroom debate or an individual student report. The book is generously illustrated with full color photographs. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, a timeline, source notes, a selected bibliography, organizations to contact, and additional recommended book and website resources to explore.
Quill says: This is an amazing discussion on gun control and the balance between "individual rights and the safety of society."