Gun Control and Gun Rights:

A Reader & Guide

By Andrew J. McClurg, David B. Kopel and Brannon P. Denning

Gun Control & Gun Rights is published by New York University Press, in both paperback and hardback formats. 367 pages. $25 paperback, $65 hardback.

You may order this book from:

You might also be interested in Kopel's 2012 law school textbook, Firearms Law and the Second Amendment: Regulation, Rights, and Policy.

Summary of the Book

This is the first college and university textbook on the subject of gun policy. It is also, unlike the vast majority of books on gun policy, carefully balanced -- because the authors themselves have very different opinions on gun control. Gun Control & Gun Rights is suitable for use as a primary or secondary textbook in graduate or undergraduate courses in law, criminology, sociology, history, or philosophy. The book incorporates perspectives ranging from ancient Greek philosophy to economics to public health to critical race theory and feminism.

It is also suitable for individuals interested in gun policy -- either for a home study program, as a reference book, or to read as an ordinary book.

Slightly less than half the book consists of excerpts from the best writers on all sides of the gun issue. These are extremely powerful excerpts, among the best and most challenging that each side has to offer.

Over half of the book is comprised of Discussion Notes which follow the various excerpts. These Discussion Notes are excellent tools for classroom discussion. Like the excerpts, these Discussion Notes are carefully balanced, and force readers to confront the most powerful arguments against their own position. These Notes also raise many additional issues about gun law and policy, and provide citations for further inquiry.

Gun Control & Gun Right swill help the great American gun debate continue to advance beyond bumper-sticker slogans. No matter what you think about gun control, you will be much better informed after you read this book, and you will have been forced to think through for yourself the best arguments for and against your own position.


Eugene Volokh, Professor of Law, UCLA: I just got my copy of "Gun Control & Gun Rights: a reader & guide", by Andrew McClurg, David Kopel, and Brannon Denning (NYU Press). It's thorough (covering criminological, constitutional, and moral questions), but more importantly it's balanced: McClurg is a leading pro-control commentator, while Kopel and Denning are leading gun control skeptics.  The text is aimed at university courses (both undergraduate and graduate), but many people who are personally interested in gun issues may find it helpful, too. I highly recommend it.

Glenn Reynolds, Professor of Law, University of Tennessee: If you're interested in guns and gun policy, you'll likely be interested in this new book from NYU Press. It's by Andrew McClurg, Dave Kopel & Brannon Denning and it looks at both pro- and anti-gun literature. I haven't seen the actual book yet, but I read a copy of the manuscript last year and I thought it was excellent.

Excerpts from the Book

Preface and Teaching Notes.


Table of Contents:

Chapter 1. The Benefits of Gun Ownership

A. The Benefits of Guns for Personal Self-Defense

Basic Self-Defense Principles

Discussion Notes

The Effectiveness of Guns for Self-Defense

Gary Kleck, Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America (1991)

Discussion Notes

How Many Defensive Gun Uses (DGUs)?

Gary Kleck & Marc Gertz, Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense with a Gun, 86 J. Criminal L. & Criminology 150 (1996).

Discussion Notes.

Philip J. Cook, Jens Ludwig & David Hemenway, The Gun Debate's New Mythical Number: How Many Defensive Uses Per Year?, 16 J. Policy Analysis & Management 463 (1997)

Discussion Notes

B. Gun Ownership and Carrying as a Deterrent to Crime

James D. Wright & Peter H. Rossi, Armed and Considered Dangerous: A Survey of Felons and Their Firearms (1986).

Discussion Notes

Gun Carrying

John R. Lott, Jr., More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun-Control Laws (1998)

Discussion Notes

Andrew J. McClurg, "Lott's" More Gun and Other Fallacies Infecting the Gun Control Debate, 11 J. Firearms & Pub. Pol'y 139 (1999)

Discussion Notes

C. Recreational Gun Use

Sport Shooting



Discussion Notes

Chapter 2. The Costs of Firearms

A. Homicides and Other Intentional Shootings

Discussion Notes

Stevens H. Clarke, Firearms and Violence: Interpreting the Connection, 65 Institutes of Government 2 (2000)

Discussion Notes

B. Suicide

Discussion Notes

Andrew J. McClurg, The Public Health Case for the Safe Storage of Firearms: Adolescent Suicides Add One More "Smoking Gun," 51 Hastings L. Rev. 953 (2000)

Discussion Notes

C. Accidental Shootings

Gary Kleck, Targeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control (1997)

Discussion Notes

D. The Financial Costs of Firearms Crime

Discussion Notes

E. Fear

Mark Warr, Fear of Crime in the United States: Avenues for Research and Policy in 4 Measurement and Analysis of Crime and Justice 452 (Nat'l Inst. Justice, 2000)

Discussion Notes

Chapter 3. Philosophical Roots of the Right to Arms--and of Opposition to that Right

A. Self-Defense as a Natural Right

Cicero, In Defence of Titus Annus Milo

Hugo Grotius, The Rights of War and Peace

Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan

John Locke, Second Treatise on Government

Cesare Beccaria, On Crime and Punishment

Discussion Notes

B. Arms Bearing as an Incident of Citizenship

Aristotle, The Politics

Niccolo Machiavelli, The Art of War

Discussion Notes and

Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Samuel Kercheval (July 12, 1816)

Joel Barlow, Advice to the Privileged Orders

Discussion Notes

C. The Propensity of Absolute Rules to Disarm Their Subjects

Aristotle, The Politics

Plato, The Republic

Plato, The Laws

Niccolo and Machiavelli, The Art of War

Jean Bodin, Six Bookes of a Commonweale

Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, vol. 1

Discussion Notes

D. The Citizen-Militia as a Dual Safeguard Against Tyranny and Foreign Invasion

Niccolo Machiavelli, Discourses on Livy

Discussion Notes

Andrew Fletcher, A Discourse of Government with Relation to Militias

Discussion Notes

James Madison, The Federalist No. 46

Discussion Notes

E. Doubts About the Efficacy of Militias

Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations

Discussion Notes

Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist No. 29  

Discussion Notes

Chapter 4. The Right to Arms in the Second Amendment and State Constitutions: Cases and Commentary

A. The Second Amendment in the Supreme Court

Presser v. Illinois, 116 U.S. 252 (1886)

Discussion Notes

United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939)

Discussion Notes

B. The Second Amendment in Lower Federal Courts

Hickman v. Block, 81 F.3d 98 (9th Cir. 1996)

Discussion Notes

United States v. Emerson, 46 F. Supp.2d 598 (N.D. Tex. 1999)

Discussion Notes

C. Scholarly Commentary on the Second Amendment

Glenn Harlan Reynolds, A Critical Guide to the Second Amendment, 62 Tenn. L. Rev. 461 (1995)

Discussion Notes

Saul Cornell, Commonplace or Anachronism: The Standard Model, The Second Amendment, and the Problem of History in Contemporary Constitutional Theory, 16 Const. Commentary 221 (2000)

Discussion Notes

D. The Right to Keep and Bear Arms Under State Constitutions

Andrews v. State, 50 Tenn. (3 Heisk.) 165 (1871)

Discussion Notes

City of Salina v. Blaksley, 83 P. 619 (1905)

Discussion Notes

State v. Kessler, 614 P.2d 94 (Ore. 1980)

Discussion Notes

Arnold v. City of Cleveland, 616 N.E.2d 163 (Ohio 1993)

Discussion Notes

Chapter 5. Guns and Identity: Race, Gender, Class and Culture

A. Race

Robert J. Cottrol & Raymond J. Diamond, The Second Amendment: Toward an Afro-American Reconsideration, 80 Geo. L.J. 309 (1991)

Discussion Notes

Carl T. Bogus, Race, Riots, and Guns, 66 S. Cal. L. Rev. 1365 (1993)

Complaint, Nat'l Assoc. for the Advancement of Colored People v. A.A. Arms, Inc., et al

David Horowitz, Guns Don't Kill Black People, Other Blacks Do, Salon, Aug. 16, 1999

Discussion Notes

B. Gender

Inge Anna Larish, Why Annie Can't Get Her Gun: A Feminist Perspective on the Second Amendment, 1996 U. Ill. L. Rev. 467

Discussion Notes

Alana Blassin, Why Packing a Pistol Perpetuates Patriarchy, 8 Hastings Women's L.J. 351 (1997)

Discussion Notes

C. Class and Culture

Robert J. Cottrol, Submission is Not the Answer: Lethal Violence, Microcultures of Criminal Violence and the Right to Self-Defense, 69 U. Colo. L. Rev. 1029 (1998)

Firearm Ownership by Class and Culture

Lethal Violence Victimization by Class and Culture

Firearms Ownership Patterns

Discussion Notes

Chapter 6. Guns and Civil Liability

A. Are Guns Defective Products on the Theory that Their Risk to Society Outweighs Their Usefulness?

Andrew J. McClurg, Handguns as Products Unreasonably Dangerous Per Se, 13 U. Ark. Little Rock L.J. 599 (1991)

Discussion Notes

Philip D. Oliver, Rejecting the "Whipping-boy" Approach to Tort Law: Well-made Handguns Are Not Defective Products," 14 U. Ark. Little Rock L.J. 1 (1991)

Discussion Notes

B. Are Guns Defective Products If They Can Be Made Safer?

Jon S. Vernick & Stephen P. Teret, Public Health Approach to Regulating Firearms as Consumer Products, 148 U. Pa. L. Rev. 1193 (2000)

Discussion Notes

C. Have Gun Manufacturers Negligently Marketed Guns to Criminals?

Discussion Notes

Merrill v. Navegar, Inc., 89 Cal. Rptr. 2d 146 (Cal. Ct. App. 1999)

Discussion Notes

D. Government Plaintiff Litigation

Anne Giddings Kimball & Sarah L. Olson, Municipal Firearms Litigation: Ill Conceived from Any Angle, 32 Conn. L. Rev. 1277 (2000)

Discussion Notes

The Smith and Wesson Settlement

Discussion Notes

The Future

Share this page:

Kopel RSS feed Click the icon to get RSS/XML updates of this website, and of Dave's articles.

Follow Dave on Twitter.

Kopel's Law & Liberty News. Twice-daily web newspaper collecting articles from Kopel and those whom he follows on Twitter.

Author page on Amazon.

Search Kopel website:

Make a donation to support Dave Kopel's work in defense of constitutional rights and public safety.
Donate Now!

Nothing written here is to be construed as necessarily representing the views of the Independence Institute or as an attempt to influence any election or legislative action. Please send comments to Independence Institute, 727 East 16th Ave., Colorado 80203. Phone 303-279-6536. (email) webmngr @

Copyright © 2018