1st Edition

Dialogues on Gun Control

By David DeGrazia Copyright 2023
    142 Pages
    by Routledge

    142 Pages
    by Routledge

    What happens when two intelligent American college students with different attitudes about guns launch into a careful exploration of the ethics of gun policy? What might a European exchange student add to the mix? All three characters in this book are fictional, the creation of author David DeGrazia’s imagination. But their vigorous, respectful conversations over six meetings—well-informed by the latest empirical data and the best available philosophical arguments—shed needed light on the reality of guns in the U.S. today.

    These dialogues introduce students, professional academics, and others to the American experience with gun violence and gun policy, articulating ethical arguments supporting and opposing substantial gun control, and specific possibilities for reform. They also demonstrate how those who initially disagree about the place of guns in American society can communicate constructively and agree on many ideas.

    Dialogue 1 distinguishes the legal rights to private gun ownership from the ethics of gun policy and illustrates how the U.S. is an outlier with respect to gun violence, gun ownership, and gun politics. Dialogue 2 explores the overall social consequences of high rates of gun ownership and minimal regulation and enforcement. Then, turning to moral rights, Dialogue 3 probes the subtle relationships among a right to self-defense, its possible foundation(s), and alleged gun rights. Dialogue 4 turns to appeals to various liberties as possible bases for gun rights. Next, Dialogue 5 examines the possibility that various other moral rights—such as a right to a reasonably safe environment—can illuminate gun policy ethics. Finally, Dialogue 6 concludes with a fairly detailed exploration of the shape of morally defensible gun policy in the United States.

    Key features:

    • Dialogue format provides an engaging and accessible exchange throughout the book
    • Depth of the ethical analysis refutes those who believe the issues pertaining to guns are simple
    • Up-to-date references and examples make the book more current than the competition.


    Foreword by Jeff McMahan

    Dialogue 1: Is American Gun Policy a Moral Issue Meriting Serious Attention?

    Dialogue 2: Does a Focus on Social Consequences Support Substantial Gun Control?

    Dialogue 3: Does a Right to Self-Defense Support Gun Rights?

    Dialogue 4: Do Appeals to Liberty Support Gun Rights?

    Dialogue 5: Do Other Moral Rights Strengthen the Case for Substantial Gun Control?

    Dialogue 6: What Would Morally Justified Gun Policy Look Like?


    David DeGrazia is Elton Professor of Philosophy at George Washington University. Among his ten books are Taking Animals Seriously (1996), Human Identity and Bioethics (2005), Debating Gun Control (with Lester Hunt, 2016), and A Theory of Bioethics (with Joseph Millum, 2021).

    "DeGrazia is not only one of the US’s leading moral philosophers but has also written as extensively and illuminatingly about guns as any living philosopher. As an introduction to the moral problem of gun violence that critically examines the arguments on both sides, this book could not be bettered."
    Jeff McMahan, University of Oxford