Gun control is a fascinating public policy area that creates extremely emotional reactions among both those who advocate greater regulation and those who oppose further restrictions on firearms ownership. The issues raised in the debate deal with fundamental questions of constitutional law and the rights of individuals, opportunities for self-protection, and the control of violence. A long-time gun collector informed me of an additional factor making this area especially intriguing. Whenever he displays his gun collection, he can be assured of an attentive audience. Firearms are inherently interesting to many people. Thousands of admiring firearms fans flood gun shows, admiring the many displays of guns, both new and old.
Both sides of the gun control debate have their heroes and villains. Gun rights advocates often portray the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) as a power-hungry group of government officials intent on limiting the liberties of law- abiding citizens and consider the National Rifle Association (NRA) a champion of individual liberty. Gun control supporters often see gun manufacturers as profit- hungry exploiters of Americans' fascination with firearms who take advantage of a too ready willingness to settle disputes violently. They perceive the NRA as a politically ruthless organization, but view the BATF as a well-intentioned if ineffectual government agency. This book is an attempt to present varying views on gun rights and gun control, treating all sides of the gun control question as fairly and accurately as possible.
Gun-related Web sites have proliferated in recent years, contributing greatly to the resources available on firearms and gun control. Initially gun rights groups had the advantage in putting their message before the Internet audience, but more recently gun control organizations have begun to narrow the information gap. These Web sites have been an extremely valuable source of information in preparing this book. In addition, a large number of books, periodicals, and organization newsletters, pamphlets, and monographs were consulted.
Included among the entries are various organizations that have taken stands on gun control. Although many organizations are on the same side of the gun control question, they do not necessarily hold the same views on the issue. Many individuals who have promoted or opposed gun control, both inside and outside of government, have been included, as well as those who have conducted research in the area. Various laws dealing in some way with gun policy are discussed and many