The Politics of Gun Control, 5th Edition

Book Info

  • Length: 264 pages
  • Trim size: 6" x 9"

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  • ISBN: 978-1-59451-987-1
  • Publish date: September 2011
  • List Price: $45.95
  • Your Price: $39.06


In a time when each new accidental death, school shooting, or political assassination draws unprecedented and polemical media attention, Robert J. Spitzer, a member of both the NRA and the Brady Center, steers clear of divisive rhetoric to present the contentious issue of gun control in the United States. Although the topic is controversial, Spitzer’s even-handed analysis makes this a perfect example of policy studies in the United States.

New to the Fifth Edition:

Features a new, in-depth section on the movement to allow gun carrying on college campuses.
• Covers recent public shootings including that of Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona.
• Includes such recent court rulings as D.C. v. Heller, McDonald v. Chicago, and others.
• Offers new data on gun ownership, gun deaths, school shootings, and public opinion on gun control.
• Looks at NRA politics in recent elections.
• Examines ATF role changes in light of increased border patrols and heightened Mexican drug violence.
• Explores phenomena related to social media including gun “meet-ups.”

Hear more from Robert Spitzer:

"Five Myths About Gun Control" Washington Post December 21, 2012

"The President's Need for Speed" January 17, 2013

"Government Can Improve Gun Records" The Hill January 14, 2013

"Righting the Gun Debate" LA Review of Books February 10, 2013

Listen to Bob Spitzer talk about gun control on "The Diane Rehm Show".

Bob Spitzer discusses President Obama's Call For Action on Guns "On Point with Tom Ashbrook".

Professor Spitzer chats with Terry Gross on "Fresh Air".

Author Info

Robert J. Spitzer is Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at SUNY-Cortland.



“[Offers] a formula that might move the gun debate off dead center.”
E.J. Dionne, Jr., The Washington Post (4/21/99)

The Politics of Gun Control does an excellent job of introducing undergraduates to the policy area in a way that engages them and facilitates the development of their critical and analytical abilities. Robert J. Spitzer admirably covers all of the key matters pertaining to gun control. The book provides a theoretical framework, the necessary discussion of the Second Amendment, a thorough analysis of the problem of guns and gun control, good treatment of the politics of gun control (political parties, interest groups, citizens), and some nice case studies. The book’s scholarship is sturdy and does not reflect any appreciable bias. I believe that this is the best text on policy-making in a particular area currently in print.”
Patrick Pierce, Saint Mary’s College

“The Spitzer book was the first book I assigned for my junior-level public policy course. It worked just as I had planned because it was a real-life, exciting, controversial example upon which we could build an understanding of the policy process. Spitzer engages the students with the controversy but continuously puts the emphasis on policy issues like the Second Amendment, the gun and antigun lobbies, the complexities of the federal system, and the evolution of a national policy.”
Janet Frantz, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

“Spitzer provides the reader with a comprehensive history of the evolution of gun control policy within the United States and provides a balanced and insightful treatment of the debate. The Politics of Gun Control is an instructive read for anyone interested in this timely and controversial policy area.”
Kimberly A. Fredericks, Indiana State University



1. Policy Definition and Gun Control
Regulation, Public Order, and Public Policy
Guns and Regulation
The Gun Controversy
The Gun Culture
Policy Gridlock
Social Regulatory Policy Analysis

2. The Second Amendment: Meaning, Intent, Interpretation, and Consequences
Historic Roots
The Constitution
The Bill of Rights
The Militia Transformed
Supreme Court Rulings
Other Court Rulings
Bad History Makes Bad Law

3. The Criminological Consequences of Guns
America and Violence
Choice of Weapons
Homicide and Malicious Injury
Guns and School Violence
Gun Carrying on College Campuses?
Extending the “Castle Doctrine” to America’s Streets

4. Political Fury: Gun Politics
Single-Issue Gun Groups: The NRA
Explaining the NRA’s Effectiveness
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
The Million Mom March
The Gun Control Movement’s Strategic Blunders
The Political Balance and the Invincibility Myth
Public Opinion
Political Parties and Guns

5. Institutions, Policymaking, and Guns
Early Legislative Efforts
The Gun Control Act of 1968
The Firearms Owners Protection Act of 1986
The Tide Turns: The Assault Weapons Ban
The Brady Bill
The Post-Columbine Reaction
Lawsuit Protection for Gun Manufacturers
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
Conclusion: Furious Politics, Marginal Policy

6. Gun Policy: A New Framework
Federalism: The Great Regulation Dilemma
Gun Policy Alternatives
The Barriers to Gun Control
The Security Dilemma
The Security Dilemma and the Gun Debate
Nonproliferation and Arms Control

About the Author

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