America's Gun Wars

A Cultural History of Gun Control in the United States

by Donald J. Campbell


When gun control advocate Barack Obama was president, firearms sales soared. After gun rights proponent Donald Trump was sworn in, firearms giant Glock reported a 36 percent drop in handgun sales.

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Cover image for America's Gun Wars

April 2019


Pages 196
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Current Events and Issues/Society
  American History/Culture

This book examines the controversies surrounding gun control, which are less about whether it "works" and more about whether the nation should prioritize traditional values of rugged independence or newer values of communitarian interdependence.

America's Gun Wars contends that an understanding of America's gun controversy cannot be found in statistics documenting the rise (or fall) of violent crime, or in examining trade-offs between societal needs and personal safety, or in following the political maneuvering of advocacy groups such as the National Rifle Association or Everytown for Gun Safety. At heart, the gun controversy is a values conflict involving how people see themselves and how they make sense of the world they live in. Understanding this controversy requires a deep analysis of the profoundly different cultures inhabited by pro- and anti-gun activists, lawmakers, and voters.

Written by a social scientist who has spent his life exploring how values and self-perceptions impact behavior, this book explores the origins and evolution of cultures in American society; the beliefs, experiences, and principles that guide the behavior of members in both camps; and the triumphs and failures that the two sides have experienced from colonial times to the present day.


  • Presents an unbiased analysis and explanation of the gun control/gun rights debate
  • Examines the controversy in a broad historical perspective, illustrating how large social forces and prominent personalities helped to shape differing attitudes and cultures
  • Explains the broader social context surrounding the debate, rendering the subject more easily understandable
  • Highlights chapter material with documents, making it a useful resource for academic discussion or further scholarly research
Author Info

Donald J. Campbell is professor emeritus at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he served as professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership for 16 years. Campbell has also taught at schools and universities around the world, and his work has been published in leading academic journals including Policing and Society, Journal of Strategic and International Studies, and Military Psychology.

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