Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Gun Politics in America: Historical and Modern Documents in Context

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Gun Politics in America: Historical and Modern Documents in Context

Article excerpt

Gun Politics in America: Historical and Modern Documents in Context. By Harry L. Wilson. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2016. 2 vols. Acid free $189 (ISBN 978-1-44083728-9).

Gun Politics in America: Historical and Modern Documents in Context is an affordable two-volume set comprised of eight chapters ranging from the early eighteenth century to President Obama's first term. Each chapter is made up of about fifteen primary source documents covering major periods in firearms and politics in the United States, with 134 sources total. In addition, each chapter has a roughly ten-page introduction that provides an overview of the social and cultural climate of the period covered by the chapter, with the focus on how the period connects with gun control and the politics surrounding firearms. The chapter introductions do an excellent job of connecting themes in gun control such as race relations, crime rates, organized crime, drugs, and other specific issues related to gun control such as the right to self-defense and concealed carrying of firearms. Each primary source document is prefaced by a short, two-to-three-paragraph introduction, which provides the reader with enough information to comprehend the document in both its historical context and connect the document to other major issues within gun politics. For example, the 1938 Federal Firearms Act is identified as the "emergence of the NRA as an important player in the legislative arena" (144). The first volume also provides a chronology of gun control politics in the United States so that readers can quickly track the major events from the late seventeenth century to 2014.

Editor Harry L. Wilson, chair of the Public Affairs Department and director for Institute for Policy and Opinion Research, Roanoke College, does a fine job making the primary source documents relate to major issues in gun control, and his selection of documents is comprehensive without being overwhelming. …

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