The Politics of Gun Control

By Roberst J. Spitzer | Go to book overview

The greater the difficulties, the greater is the task of a policy of restraint and the merit of those who . . . would know how to forego the "easy" solution, the "Gordian knot" solution of force, in favor of a peace that would be neither appeasement and abdication nor the Carthaginian result of a war which might spell the destruction of our civilization.

-- John H. Herz, "Idealist Internationalism and the Security Dilemma," World Politics


6. Gun Policy: A New Framework

THE gun control battle is, above all, a struggle over public policy. As the many elements and cases of the gun issue analyzed in this book reveal, the gun policy struggle is one in which elephantine political forces battle over policy mice. This conclusion is surely no surprise to anyone with a passing acquaintance with the gun issue. At the same time, only a full understanding of the policy issue's scope and its political consequences can hope to yield any sort of policy synthesis.

The purposes of this chapter are, first, to draw together the primary findings of the previous chapters, and second, to use them as a springboard to propose a new framework for conceptualizing the gun issue, based precisely on its inflammatory nature, grounded as it is in the social regulatory policy dynamic. I draw such a framework from an unlikely but entirely logical source--international relations. Before considering these primary purposes, however, we need first to address one final, crucial matter: the relationship between federalism and gun control.


Federalism: The Great Regulation Dilemma

America's 20,000 gun regulations belie the central, often ignored fact that nearly all these regulations exist at the state and local levels. There is reason to believe that some of these regulations have had an effect on behavior. Nevertheless, despite our country's geographic size and diversity, the ease of long-distance travel means that the flow of arms from low-regulation to high-regulation states continues nearly unabated. 1 Therefore, the question of how state powers and regulations relate to national governmental powers and regulations (a practical definition of

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The Politics of Gun Control
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface to the Second Edition ix
  • Preface to the First Edition x
  • Introduction xii
  • 1 - Policy Definition and Gun Control 1
  • 2 - The Second Amendment: Meaning, Intent, Interpretation, and Consequences 17
  • 3 - The Criminological Consequences of Guns 43
  • Conclusion 64
  • 4 - Political Fury: Gun Politics 67
  • Conclusion 100
  • 5 - Institutions, Policymaking, and Guns 102
  • Conclusion: Furious Politics, Marginal Policy 133
  • 6 - Gun Policy: a New Framework 136
  • Notes 154
  • Index 204
  • About the Author 210
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