On this week’s Past Present bonus episode, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss the history of gun policy and debates over the Second Amendment.
The mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon that left ten people dead has once again put the contentious issue of gun rights in the national conversation.
Both gun rights and gun control advocates have used bad history about the Second Amendment and gun ownership to advance their particular causes. Natalia noted the book, Arming America, by Michael Bellesiles at first was embraced by liberal proponents of gun control until the work was thoroughly discredited for using falsified research. Conservatives argue the Constitution secured an individual right to gun ownership, but historians like Jill Lepore have shown the National Rifle Association has played the critical role in advancing this interpretation since the 1970s.
This week, Niki wrote about American life in the “Age of the Gun” for U.S. News & World Report.