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US Politics – The Second Amendment and Gun Control

5. The Postwar Period, 1945-Present

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About this Lecture

Lecture

In this module, we finish our exploration of the history of gun control in the United States, looking at this section at the period after the Second World War to the present day. In particular, we focus on: (i) some of the key terminology used when discussing different types of firearms, including the difference between ‘semi-automatic’ and ‘automatic’ weapons, and the concept of an ‘assault’ weapon; (ii) the key differences between rifles, shotguns, and handguns, and the use of the latter in the vast majority of homicides in the United States; (iii) the growth of the United States into an interventionist military superpower during the Second World War; (iv) the emergence of the (movie) cowboy as a key American icon in the 1950s, and the impact this had on gun ownership in the United States; (v) the changes undergone by American society between the mid-1960s and late-1970s, the development of what Allan Bloom describes as the “cramped little risk-fearing man”, and the impact this had on gun control legislation; (vi) the racial politics of gun control legislation, and the importance of the Black Panther Party in resisting calls for greater gun control; (vii) the impact of the assassination of John F. Kennedy and (attempted) assassination of Ronald Reagan on gun control legislation, and the passing of the Brady Act in 1993 and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act 1994; and (viii) the vibrancy of the gun control debate today.

Course

In this course, Dr Kevin Yuill (University of Sunderland) explores the history of gun control in the United States from the colonial period to the present day. In the first module, we think about the history of the right to bear arms in English law, and the precise formulation of the Second Amendment: ‘A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed’. After that, we trace the history of gun control in the United States from the early 17th-century to the present day in four key periods – 1619-1857, 1865-1911, 1911-34 and 1945-present.

Lecturer

Dr Kevin Yuill is Associate Professor of American History at the University of Sunderland. His primary interests are in the intellectual history of the United States, particularly race and equality in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, attitudes to suicide and death, and attitudes to the possession of firearms. His recent publications include (as co-author) The Second Amendment and Gun Control: Freedom, Fear, and the American Constitution (2017) and Assisted Suicide: the Liberal, Humanist Case Against Legalization (2013).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Yuill, K. (2021, February 10). US Politics – The Second Amendment and Gun Control - The Postwar Period, 1945-Present [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/us-politics-the-second-amendment-and-gun-control/the-postwar-period-1945-present

MLA style

Yuill, Kevin. "US Politics – The Second Amendment and Gun Control – The Postwar Period, 1945-Present." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 10 Feb 2021, https://www.massolit.io/courses/us-politics-the-second-amendment-and-gun-control/the-postwar-period-1945-present