Starter 2: The Right to Bear Arms

In July 2007, Harvard Law Professor Mark Tushnet discussed his forthcoming book, Out of Range: Why the Constitution Can't End the Battle Over Guns (Oxford University Press, 2007), with ABA staff. In the following exchange, Tushnet comments on the implications of America's "culture wars" for reaching a compromise on gun rights and laws.

Listen to a podcast of the discussion

Read a transcript of the discussion

Focus Questions

1. In this interview, Tushnet suggests there are better ways to limit violence than focus on gun control laws? Do you agree/disagree? What are some other policies that could be put into effect that would have an impact on decreasing violent crimes?

2. Tushnet argues that our attitudes about guns are part of how we define ourselves as a nation. What place do you think guns have in definitions of ourselves as Americans? Has the importance of guns to the definition of our nation become more or less significant over the course of our nation's history?

3. Given the state of American politics, do you think an "astute politician" as defined by Tushnet can emerge and garner support in the near future? Why?

4. Why does it seem so difficult to reach a compromise position on issues that touch upon our nation's "culture wars" (including gun laws, abortion, the role of religion in public life, etc.)? Do you agree/disagree with Tushnet that compromise is due to a failure of political leadership? Why or why not?