Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.

Historian Dominic Erdozain discusses new book, U.S. gun culture, Second Amendment at book event

Erdozain discusses historical foundations of gun control, argues current U.S. gun culture violates country’s founding principles

Historian Erdozain argued against the notion that U.S. gun control is irreversible and entrenched in the Constitution.
Historian Erdozain argued against the notion that U.S. gun control is irreversible and entrenched in the Constitution.

Historian Dominic Erdozain discussed the politics, culture and laws surrounding guns in the United States at a Wednesday talk for his book “One Nation Under Guns.”

In “One Nation Under Guns,” Erdozain argues that the Second Amendment was never meant to guarantee individuals the right to bear arms and that the U.S. neglects critical consideration of the role of guns in democracy. His book talk, hosted by the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, was moderated by Ieva Jusionyte, an associate professor of international security and anthropology. 

The modern U.S. gun culture is “in contradiction with the values of democracy and the goals of the Constitution,” Erdozain said.

“This modern idea of free and open access to deadly firepower is not just a departure from the legal norms of U.S. history,” he said. “It is a violation of the very principle of freedom, as defined in the democratic tradition. It turns out that the founders, the very people who are invoked in support of gun rights, furnish a far more robust and coherent account of liberty than this kind of muscular freedom to go armed as and when you choose.”


He stated that the country’s founders would be “heavily critical of the reckless individualism that is attached to gun rights at the moment.”

A key argument of Erdozain’s book is that the founders of the country believed “the liberal state is there to protect us not only from tyrannical rules, but from the tyranny in all of us.”

Erdozain challenged the notion that the Second Amendment was written to guarantee that all individuals have a right to bear arms, instead characterizing it as an anti-war measure that prevents a “professional army that allows rulers to rule as dictators.”

He also highlighted the ties between slavery and gun ownership. “The argument against slavery was partly based on the fact that by encouraging it, you encourage an armed society,” he said. 

In the talk, Erdozain also challenged the acceptance of gun culture he witnessed around the country. When he arrived in the U.S. from the United Kingdom, he said he felt “alarmed at the fatalism of liberals on firearms as the reckless seal of the right.” 

Attendees described the event as educational and inspiring. 

“I felt that (the talk) was a gift to the community. Dr. Erdozain is brilliant,” Fraser Lang ’67 said. 

Betty Lang, another attendee, said that “it was fascinating to hear about the connection between gun violence and slavery.”

Melissa Carden, the executive director of Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence, also attended the event. 

“The history of the Second Amendment is not something people are educated about,” Carden said, noting that 120 people are killed in the U.S. daily because of gun violence. “The more we have honest conversations based on data and the truth in light of today’s gun violence, the better.”


Grace Hu

Grace Hu is a Senior Staff Writer covering graduate student life. She is a freshman from Massachusetts studying English and Neuroscience.


Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Brown Daily Herald, Inc.