One Nation Under Guns: How Gun Culture Distorts Our History and Threatens Our Democracy

Crown. Jan. 2024. 288p. ISBN 9780593594315. $28. POL SCI
Historian Erdozain (Emory Univ.; The Soul of Doubt) makes a bracingly simple argument: the narrative that gun rights are an American birthright is a fabrication. He takes readers on a tour through the history and public discourse surrounding gun control, from the 18th-century Enlightenment and the American Revolution to the present day. He marshals powerful arguments that the Second Amendment’s “right to keep and bear arms” belonged to “the people” purely in their collective capacity as a “well-regulated militia.” But over time, racial paranoia, “honor” culture, nationalism, and the U.S. frontier mythos transformed firearms into symbols of manly virtue and individual liberty. Even so, 19th- and 20th-century public discourse and case law mostly backed gun control. Then, in 2008’s District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court resorted to what Erdozain calls “a false and invented history” to overturn centuries of legal precedent and popular support for gun control.
VERDICT A fast-paced, reader-friendly polemic that demolishes gun-culture myths. Will attract many readers.
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