I became interested in gun control policy by osmosis, in the infancy of my criminological career, when I was a student research assistant of Norval Morris, one of the first criminologists to call for handgun prohibition. My other University of Chicago Law School mentor in the early 1970s was Franklin Zimring, who even then was the foremost empirical scholar of gun violence in the United States. I began working on gun control in a scholarly way in the late 1970s at the behest of Don Kates, the peripatetic anti—gun control activist and scholar, who invited me to participate in a Law and Contemporary Problems symposium at Duke University. In the article I contributed to that symposium, I puzzled over several different versions of handgun prohibition, querying whether their exemptions (permitting gun possession) fatally undermined the prohibition.
In the early 1990s, I began teaching a law school seminar on the regulation of weaponry in a democratic society. After teaching it twice on my own, my colleague Ron Noble joined me as co-teacher. Soon afterward, Ron was appointed under secretary (for enforcement) of the U. S. Department of Treasury, a job that includes supervision of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. For the next several years, to the benefit of our nation and our seminar, Ron was involved in firearms policy formulation and enforcement at the very highest level. I owe a debt of gratitude to Ron, who is now director general of Interpol. (I hasten to add that he certainly is not responsible for any of the ideas put forward in this book; we disagree about many issues while remaining the closest of friends.) I also want to sincerely thank the five classes of New York University law students who participated in those gun control seminars. I have benefited immensely from more than 100 hours of classroom discussion and from scores of term