The U.S. has the highest rate of civilian gun ownership in the world—twice as high as the second-place finisher, Yemen. This week on BackStory, the American History Guys explore the history of guns in America—who’s had access to guns, who’s wanted access to guns, and what the desire for guns has meant for American democracy.
Brian, Ed, and Peter look at the role of the government in arming citizens in early America and ask what the Second Amendment meant when it was written. They discover that before “the right to bear arms” was a catchphrase for the political right, it was an animating principle of the left-wing Black Panthers. The Guys also dig into the surprising history of American women with guns—and there’s even a trip to a gun show.
Kevin Sweeney, Amherst College, on gun ownership in colonial America.
Adam Winkler, UCLA School of Law, on guns in the Wild West and the history of guns and race.
Laura Browder, University of Richmond, on women and guns.