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Gun Control: Message from Mayor Bloomberg

04 Apr 2013

This post introduces the nationwide coalition Mayors Against Illegal Guns. It outlines the history of the coalition, and features a personal message from Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City. The writer of this blog, Michael H. Collins, is author of The American Panorama: A Comprehensive Guide to the Culture of the United States, available from amazon.com. Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City and Co-Chair of Mayors Against Illegal Guns A personal message from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg In March 2013, Mayor Bloomberg wrote me to give details of the campaign by him and some 900 other mayors to combat the scourge of illegal guns across America’s towns and cities. This post publicizes the mayors’ initiative as a contribution to the debate on effective measures of gun control. Readers from other countries which have problems of gun violence will also find the post of interest. Michael Bloomberg writes: ‘’Dear Mr. Collins: ….In New York City, cracking down on gun criminals and traffickers has helped us drive crime down to record lows. But even though we’ve made New York the safest big city in the nation, the threat of gun violence remains, and…

Gun Control: How to End Gun Violence

22 Mar 2013

Gun control is among the top news items and blog posts. Searches for the keyword ‘’gun control” have spiked. So have those for ‘’Obama gun control’’ and ‘’Batman Tragedy’’. There are few criminal events as stunning and frightening as a mass shooting. Sudden, random and unpredictable episodes like the killing of six men by a gunman in a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin; the early morning massacre at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theatre; and the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newtown, Connecticut. These horrific events have spawned a federal task force on gun control and kick-started a national conversation about gun violence and gun law. President Obama is even considering a “universal background check” for anyone wanting to own a gun Lawmakers began a new session of Congress with the mass shooting at Newtown inspiring a new push to pass gun control laws that could prevent another tragedy. On Day One, lawmakers in the House of Representatives introduced nearly a dozen bills related to gun violence. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-New York, a long-time gun control advocate, led on the Democratic side. She is sponsoring legislation that would require background checks for all gun sales — including at gun…

Gun Control: Will proposals pass the Supreme Court?

07 Mar 2013

Individual rights under the Second Amendment have recently come into sharp focus. As Congress and state legislatures debate further gun control, U.S. Supreme Court and other senior judges have made a number of statements on either side of the debate. A significant lower court opinion came recently from Judge Posner in Chicago. On December 11, days before the Newtown slaughter, Posner struck down Illinois’ ban on carrying a “ready to use” gun in public. Posner’s opinion said little about individual rights under the Second Amendment or whether its authors may have intended the right to keep and bear arms to apply as expansively outside the home as inside it. He instead discussed whether or not gun control laws are effective, concluding that “the empirical literature on the effects of allowing the carriage of guns in public fails to establish a pragmatic defense of the Illinois law.” Posner went on to point out that ‘’the Supreme Court made clear in District of Columbia v. Heller that it wasn’t going to make the right to bear arms depend on casualty counts.” Gun crime in Chicago In fact, however, the Supreme Court should almost certainly uphold any of the…

Gun Control – ‘’Right of the People’’ : The Supreme Court Debate

21 Feb 2013

The Second Amendment provides: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.’’ In this post I consider two questions related to gun control. Is the right to keep and bear arms stated in the Second Amendment to the Constitution an individual right or a collective one? And if a collective one, who is included? In D.C. v Heller in 2008, the Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court debated the meaning of the phrase “right of the people” http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/07pdf/07-290.pdf. In summary the Court held: ‘’1. The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home…. (a) The Amendment’s prefatory clause announces a purpose, but does not limit or expand the scope of the second part, the operative clause. The operative clause’s text and history demonstrate that it connotes an individual right to keep and bear arms…. (b) The prefatory clause comports with the Court’s interpretation of the operative clause. The “militia” comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert…

Guns and the City: Guns in American Books and Movies

15 Feb 2013

The romance of the gun The gun has long been a symbol of power and masculinity in America. The figure of the gun-toting frontiersman in popular literature was created by James Fenimore Cooper in his adventure tales The Last of the Mohicans (1826) and The Deerslayer (1840). By the late 1800s, cowboy and Wild West imagery had become part of the collective imagination. A female cowboy, Calamity Jane (1852-1903) featured in Edward Wheeler’s Deadwood Dick dime novels from 1877. The first American female superstar, Annie Oakley (1860-1926) was a sharpshooter from Ohio who toured the country from 1885 as a performer in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. (The musical Annie Get Your Gun (1946) was a fictional account of her life.) The archetypal cowboy hero was established largely by Theodore Roosevelt’s The Winning of the West (1889-95), a history of the early frontier, and by Owen Wister in stories and novels, most notably The Virginian (1902). The image of the swaggering, gunslinging cowboy was also popularized by early cinema, notably through such classics as The Great Train Robbery (1903) and A California Hold Up (1906), the most commercially successful film of the pre-nickelodeon era. Since the 1930s, gangster films have…