Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment
In her trenchant analysis of the Second Amendment, Dunbar-Ortiz (An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States
) avoids a legalistic approach and eschews the traditional view that links the amendment to citizens’ need to protect themselves from a tyrannical government. Instead, she argues that the Second Amendment was passed to facilitate the genocide of Native Americans in order to steal their land and to provide a means for slaveholders to control their human property. She supports her thesis with numerous examples of atrocities directed at Native Americans in the late 18th and 19th centuries, and notes that “slave patrols” were used to capture runaway slaves and bolster power among slave owners. To Dunbar-Ortiz, the Second Amendment is a reflection of an American gun culture that has countenanced genocide, slavery, and a scourge of civilian-perpetrated mass murders in the modern era. Though she acknowledges that there is “no way to prove a correlation between war-related crimes and domestic mass shootings,” she believes that Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, and other similar tragedies are the predictable dark shadow and “domestic expression” of what historian Andrew J. Bacevich dubbed “the new American militarism.” Dunbar-Ortiz’s argument will be disturbing and unfamiliar to most readers, but her evidence is significant and should not be ignored. (Jan.)
Correction: There was an incorrect pronoun in the first sentence of a previous version of this review.