THIS project began in classic academic style. A decade ago, a colleague contacted me to inquire about my interest in writing a chapter for a policy issues book. I was offered a choice of topics and settled on gun control, in large part because I knew little about the topic aside from what I read in the occasional newspaper article. One of the joys of academic life is the opportunity to examine and research subjects for the sheer joy of exploration. So it was with gun control.
Since that time, I have continued to accumulate materials, write the occasional piece, and reflect on the singular nature of the gun debate, as well as the astonishing absence of any comprehensive political treatment of the subject. The product of that decade-long reflection and research is this book.
One interesting phenomenon I observed through the research process was the almost frantic yet very conscious penchant of a few writers on the gun issue to embrace, or run away from, ideological labels. The polemical undergrowth of the gun issue is certainly one reason for such proclamations, as is the penchant for ad hominem rather than substantive argumentation; yet such proclamations are unusual in scholarly literature, and I was trained to let arguments and facts speak for themselves. Declaratory statements by some lawyers and academics that they were good liberals, or not members of various gun associations, seemed anxious efforts to protest too much. Nevertheless, in the spirit of such personal declarations, let me state for the record that I am, as of this writing, a member of the National Rifle Association and Handgun Control, Inc. These memberships have been edifying for me in that they have helped provide a keener view of the gun issue from the trenches on each side.
This work relies on a wide array of source materials, spanning a variety of disciplines. Because of the contemporary nature of the gun de