How ordinary Americans, frustrated by the legal and political wrangling over the Second Amendment, can fight for reforms that will both respect gun owners’ rights and reduce gun violence.
Efforts to reduce gun violence in the United States face formidable political and constitutional barriers. Legislation that would ban or broadly restrict firearms runs afoul of the Supreme Court’s current interpretation of the Second Amendment. And gun rights advocates have joined a politically savvy firearms industry in a powerful coalition that stymies reform.
Ian Ayres and Fredrick Vars suggest a new way forward. We can decrease the number of gun deaths, they argue, by empowering individual citizens to choose common-sense gun reforms for themselves. Rather than ask politicians to impose one-size-fits-all rules, we can harness a libertarian approach—one that respects and expands individual freedom and personal choice—to combat the scourge of gun violence.
Ayres and Vars identify ten policies that can be immediately adopted at the state level to reduce the number of gun-related deaths without affecting the rights of gun owners. For example, Donna’s Law, a voluntary program whereby individuals can choose to restrict their ability to purchase or possess firearms, can significantly decrease suicide rates. Amending red flag statutes, which allow judges to restrict access to guns when an individual has shown evidence of dangerousness, can give police flexible and effective tools to keep people safe. Encouraging the use of unlawful possession petitions can help communities remove guns from more than a million Americans who are legally disqualified from owning them. By embracing these and other new forms of decentralized gun control, the United States can move past partisan gridlock and save lives now.
Five stars! A truly innovative book that does not simply advocate the same old litany of mandatory gun laws. Whatever your political persuasion, you will find that their ideas could help alleviate some of the public health problems caused by firearms that we all want to see reduced.
Gun violence is one of America’s most pressing problems. We have very few solutions, or even new ideas. This important book provides some genuinely new ideas that also, by respecting the deeply-held but conflicting values people have around guns, seem feasible and hence helpful for the widely-shared goal of saving lives.
Gun violence remains a nationwide crisis, and comprehensive, innovative legislation is needed to save lives. Ayres and Vars are opening an important new discussion about how state government can take an active role in preventing gun violence.
Ayres and Vars craft an innovative new legal tool people can use to defend themselves against gun violence—including self-harm. The book is packed with conceptual insights about the nature of freedom and self-restriction, as well as creative and promising new policy alternatives. It is a must-read for anyone interested in the gun debate.
This bold yet disarming prescription for new and promising gun policies seeks to empower and protect the citizenry while expanding and protecting individual rights. Ayres and Vars illustrate that government can reduce suicides and diminish the risk of gun violence without triggering the opposition of even the most ardent Second Amendment enthusiasts.
While the authors tend to favor more regulation, they write with an understanding of and respect for the tens of millions of Americans who cherish the right to keep and bear arms guaranteed by the Second Amendment. This understanding and respect can foster the trust necessary to evaluate their proposals free from the rancor that makes critical analysis difficult in discussions about sound gun policy.
- 256 pages
- 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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