The Second Amendment and Gun Control: Freedom, Fear, and the American Constitution, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Second Amendment and Gun Control

Freedom, Fear, and the American Constitution, 1st Edition

Edited by Kevin Yuill, Joe Street


160 pages

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Hardback: 9781138706286
pub: 2017-09-12
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The Second Amendment, by far the most controversial amendment to the US Constitution, will soon celebrate its 225th anniversary. Yet, despite the amount of ink spilled over this controversy, the debate continues on into the 21st century. Initially written with a view towards protecting the nascent nation from more powerful enemies and preventing the tyranny experienced during the final years of British rule, the Second Amendment has since become central to discussions about the balance between security and freedom. It features in election contests and informs cultural discussions about race and gender.

This book seeks to broaden the discussion. It situates discussion about gun controls within contemporary debates about citizenship, culture, philosophy and foreign policy as well as in the more familiar terrain of politics and history. It features experts on the Constitution as well as chapters discussing the symbolic importance of Annie Oakley, the role of firearms in race, and filmic representations of armed Hispanic girl gangs. It asks about the morality of gun controls and of not imposing them.

The collection presents a balanced view between those who favour more gun controls and those who would prefer fewer of them. It is infused with the belief that through honest and open debate the often bitter cultural divide on the Second Amendment can be overcome and real progress made. It contains a diverse range of perspectives including, uniquely, a European perspective on this most American of issues.


'The Second Amendment and Gun Control: Freedom, Fear and the American Constitution provides a nicely balanced overview of a complex issue in American law and public policy. Yuill and Street have done a superb job of bringing together some of the leading scholars on the differing sides of this multi-layered controversy. The individual chapters are well done. You will agree with some, disagree with others, but in the end you will find that all of them make you think. It will be a must read for both students of the subject and general readers alike.'

Robert J. Cottrol, Harold Paul Green Research Professor of Law and Professor of History and Sociology, The George Washington University, USA and author of The Long, Lingering Shadow: Slavery, Race and Law in the American Heimisphere (University of Georgia Press, 2013)

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Constitutional Mythology and the Future of Second Amendment Jurisprudence after Heller - Saul Cornell

Chapter 2: The Second Amendment Right to Self-Defence: The Core Freedom in the New Century - Joyce Lee Malcolm

Chapter 3: Annie Get Your Gun: Women, Performance and the Western Heroine - Karen Jones

Chapter 4: "A gun is a gun is anyone’s hand;" Shooting the Gang Girl in Mi Vida Loca - Emma Horrex

Chapter 5: "The Thought of a Black Male with a Weapon Scares America": African Americans, the Second Amendment, and the Racial Politics of Armed Self-Defense in the Civil Rights Era and Beyond - Simon Wendt and Rebecca Rössling

Chapter 6: From Virtuous Armed Citizen to "Cramped Little Risk-Fearing Man": The Meaning of Firearms in an Insecure Era - Kevin Yuill

Chapter 7: Gun Rights and the Rule of Law - Firmin DeBrabander

Chapter 8: To endure for all time or to change with the times? The Supreme Court and the Second Amendment - Emma Long

Chapter 9: Mr. Gingrich's Bequest:  Globalising the Second Amendment? - Peter Squires

Chapter 10: The Universal Right of Self-Defense, and the Auxiliary Right to Defensive Arms - David B. Kopel

About the Editors

Kevin Yuill is Senior Lecturer in American History at the University of Sunderland. His research and teaching interests are broad and interdisciplinary. His concentration is on intellectual history of the United States. He has written on gun control in A Cultural History of Firearms in an Age of Empire (Ashgate Press, pp. 211-230) and in journalistic articles. His monographs include Richard Nixon and the Rise of Affirmative Action: The Pursuit of Racial Equality in an Era of Limits (Rowman and Littlefield, 2006). He has also written on race and foreign policy in the United States at the turn of the century (The spectre of Japan: the influence of foreign relations on race relations theory, 1905–24, Patterns of Prejudice, 2015) and is currently completing a manuscript on the 1924 Immigration Act.

Joe Street is Senior Lecturer in History at Northumbria University, Newcastle. His work focuses on the San Francisco Bay Area in the postwar period and African American radicalism in the 1960s and 1970s. His publications include: Dirty Harry’s America: Clint Eastwood, Harry Callahan, and the Conservative Backlash (University Press of Florida, 2016), The Culture War in the Civil Rights Movement (University Press of Florida, 2007) and various articles on African American radicalism.

About the Series

Controversies in American Constitutional Law

Controversies in American Constitutional Law

Controversies in American Constitutional Law presents and engages with the contemporary developments and policies which mould and challenge U.S. constitutional law and practice. It deals with the full spectrum of constitutional issues, publishing work by scholars from a range of disciplines who tackle current legal issues by reference to their underlying legal and political histories and the philosophical perspectives that they represent. Its cross-disciplinary approach encourages analysis of past, present and future challenges to the idea of U.S. constitutionalism and the power structures upon which it rests. The series provides a forum for scholars to challenge the boundaries of U.S. constitutional law and engages with the continual process of constitutional refinement for the protection of individual rights and liberties, within an evolving framework of legitimate government. CALS promotes research, scholarship, and educative programs in all areas of U.S. law, and is the home of the British Journal of American Legal Studies. Faculty members have extensive experience in submitting amicus curiae briefs to the United States Supreme Court and lower federal courts, and advising on criminal justice issues in many states. CALS coordinates the largest British law undergraduate internship program to the United States. Through this program, and members' research, CALS has created relationships with over one hundred partners in over twenty-five states. CALS faculty advise public bodies and provides professional training and speakers at conferences across the USA.

Series Editors, Dr Jon Yorke and Dr Anne Richardson Oakes, Centre for American Legal Studies, School of Law, Birmingham City University, UK

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Americas (North, Central, South, West Indies)
LAW / General
LAW / Constitutional
LAW / Legal History