“The Anglo-Americans’ settlers’ violent break from Britain in the late eighteenth century paralleled their search-and-destroy annihilation of Delaware, Cherokee, Muskogee, Seneca, Mohawk, Shawnee, and Miami, during which they slaughtered families without distinction of age or gender, and expanded the boundaries of the thirteen colonies into unceded Native territories.”
This is a small history of the Second Amendment in the United States focusing almost entirely on the cultural arguments behind it, and not the political ones. Dunbar-Ortiz is responding to some general analyses that have been floating around in the last thirty years, and then some specific ones as well. In general, the sentiment seems to be that the NRA and the gun manufacturers have turned up the pressure and volume of pro-gun propaganda to the point that we find ourselves where we are now, with hundreds of mass shootings a year, and tens of thousands of gun deaths. We also have a deeply entrenched political gun culture, that is mostly centered on right-wing politics. All of that is true, but the cultural forces at play, as Dunbar-Ortiz hopes to show have not really changed since the founding of the country. While we think about the Heller decision a lot, Dunbar-Ortiz presents evidence that shows in general people have almost always agreed with the basic reading of the Second Amendment as that decision did, even if they might state in different ways, that the Second Amendment means individual rights. She goes also to also specifically critique a handful of scholarly histories in the last twenty five years that misstated the history of guns as being rare and not a major part of the American founding. The book is not pro-gun, or not in the way it seems from this reading, but instead is based on the idea that the only way to deal with a problem is by understanding it for real, not just based on what we ideologically want it to be.