The Right to Bear Arms

Rights and Liberties under the Law

by Robert J. Spitzer


Heated arguments about gun control are as common in America as guns themselves. Each time a high-profile shooting occurs, opponents bombard each other with conflicting statistics, opinions, and constitutional history. Unfortunately, many of the arguments used by both sides are wrong.

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Cover image for The Right to Bear Arms

November 2001


Pages 263
Volumes 1
Size 6x9
Topics Politics, Law, and Government/Human Rights and Civil Liberties
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    Hardcover: £50.00/54,00€/A$83.00

An objective examination of the Second Amendment, focusing on the intentions of its authors, its evolution from America's beginnings to the present, and the views expressed by the courts.

In The Right to Bear Arms: Rights and Liberties under the Law, the first volume in ABC-CLIO's America's Freedoms series, political scientist Robert J. Spitzer combats hysteria and rhetoric with simple facts.

He takes no position on whether more or fewer gun control laws are needed or whether guns are good or bad. Instead, he traces the roots of the Second Amendment, analyzes the opinions and intentions of its authors, follows its application and evolution from its beginnings, and explores the views expressed by the courts. He then carefully compares the intended and the implied meaning of this amendment with the views expressed by the entire spectrum of groups involved in the gun control issue. Armed with the facts, readers can decide for themselves.


  • A detailed analysis traces the right to bear arms from its origins in Britain into the 21st century
  • The book includes key primary source documents, such as federal regulations and Supreme Court decisions, a list of the right to bear arms provisions from 44 state constitutions, and excerpts from the Republican and Democratic Party platforms


  • Coverage of attempts by legal experts to attach different meanings to the Second Amendment in light of such events as the 1999 Columbine High School killings
  • Examination of recent controversies, from the assault weapons ban and the prohibition of cop-killer bullets to gun buyer background checks
Author Info

Robert J. Spitzer is Distinguished Service professor of political science at the State University of New York, Cortland, NY.



"As an account of the history and the debate, the book is, despite its brevity, quite successful. It is well-written and touches on all or nearly all of the key issues and developments."The Law and Politics Book Review

"Highly accessible and easy to read, this attractively packaged reference work offers sixth- to twelfth-grade readers a comprehensive examination of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution . . . First in America's Freedoms series, this resource will be well-worn within a matter of months."VOYA

"This volume provides historical and objective information on this timely and controversial issue . . . This volume is timely and easy to use. It will be most appropriate for high school and undergraduate libraries because of its basic introductory information."American Reference Books Annual

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