Slotkin on Gun Ownership

The Atlantic Monthly looks into its archives for some context on the Supreme Court’s monumental decision this past week on gun ownership in D.C. v. Heller. In case you missed it, the Supreme Court ruled that Washington, D.C.’s longtime strict ban on private handgun ownership, meant to combat gun violence, violates the Second Amendment right to bear arms. Big deal!

One of the relevant articles dredged up is our own Professor Richard Slotkin‘s important 2000 review of Arming America, a book about the cultural significance of America’s historical relationship with guns. Blogger Andrew Sullivan excerpts a section on his blog:

The militia issue highlights a critical difference in the way American and European cultures permit violence. American culture has tended, from the eighteenth century on, to assign an extraordinary value to individual rights, desires, and property. So we came to treat weapons, and the right to use them, as we treat all forms of private property—granting the widest possible latitude of action to the owner.

Our self-defense statutes are more permissive than those of any other industrialized nation. Under English law if a person menaced with deadly force is able to flee, he is obliged to do so. American laws since the Jacksonian period have typically declared that a man may defend himself with deadly force when he has a credible belief that he is menaced with deadly force. Under this rule a Louisiana man was acquitted in 1993 after having shot an unarmed Japanese exchange student who came to his door looking for a Halloween party.

I doubt that many Wesleyan students are gun owners, but this is an interesting read regardless of your NRA status.

Links
Atlantic: Guns Out of Control– Ashley Johnson
Atlantic: The Fall Into Guns – Richard Slotkin

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10 thoughts on “Slotkin on Gun Ownership

  1. Punditarian

    I wonder if Professor Slotkin has ever retracted his gushing, fawning review of a book that has been proven to be a monumental farrago of lies and fraudulent, made-up “data.” The only reason that his review can be called “important,” is that it reveals the dishonest andideologically driven motivations of those who would deprive American citizens of the God-given rights whose protection is the only legitimate reason that governments are instituted among men.Incidentally, the excerpted statement about the “English law” is also false. As Lord Griffith said in Beckford v R (1988) 1 AC 130: “A man about to be attacked does not have to wait for his assailant to strike the first blow or fire the first shot; circumstances may justify a pre-emptive strike.”It is a pity that tenured professors like Slotkin abuse the privilege of academic freedom to dispense such drivel.

  2. Punditarian

    I wonder if Professor Slotkin has ever retracted his gushing, fawning review of a book that has been proven to be a monumental farrago of lies and fraudulent, made-up “data.”

    The only reason that his review can be called “important,” is that it reveals the dishonest andideologically driven motivations of those who would deprive American citizens of the God-given rights whose protection is the only legitimate reason that governments are instituted among men.

    Incidentally, the excerpted statement about the “English law” is also false. As Lord Griffith said in Beckford v R (1988) 1 AC 130: “A man about to be attacked does not have to wait for his assailant to strike the first blow or fire the first shot; circumstances may justify a pre-emptive strike.”

    It is a pity that tenured professors like Slotkin abuse the privilege of academic freedom to dispense such drivel.

  3. Anonymous

    or at least, Slotkin’s review of it is important because it is true and also excellent. whoo Slotkin!

  4. Anonymous

    or at least, Slotkin’s review of it is important because it is true and also excellent. whoo Slotkin!

  5. Anonymous

    “Initially considered groundbreaking, Arming America later came under fire when scholars accused Bellesiles of faulty research methods, prompting Columbia University to rescind his Bancroft Prize. Any alleged research misconduct by Bellesiles has not, however, diminished Slotkin’s analysis of the cultural significance of America’s historical relationship with guns.”So just like “I, Rigoberta Menchu” the book is worthwhile not because it is true, but because it would be nice if it were?

  6. Anonymous

    “Initially considered groundbreaking, Arming America later came under fire when scholars accused Bellesiles of faulty research methods, prompting Columbia University to rescind his Bancroft Prize. Any alleged research misconduct by Bellesiles has not, however, diminished Slotkin’s analysis of the cultural significance of America’s historical relationship with guns.”

    So just like “I, Rigoberta Menchu” the book is worthwhile not because it is true, but because it would be nice if it were?

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