Spring 2024

Guns in American Politics

Listed in: Political Science, as POSC-152


Jonathan M. Obert (Section 01)


This course will address the politics of gun ownership, as well as the meanings of guns in American civic life. Focusing on the philosophical, social, legal, institutional, cultural, and economic lenses through which Americans have made sense of the role of firearms in American politics, this course will use firearms policy to explore a range of questions: how has our understanding of self-protection changed or not over time? What was the role of the Second Amendment in the making of the Constitution? How do we make sense of the controversies and debates that have surrounded the “right to bear arms” and its interpretation in legal and historical scholarship? How does mobilization around guns and gun rights reflect and shape racial, ethnic, and gender identities? Where and when do such mobilizations occur? In what ways are U.S. policies and attitudes actually exceptional among developed countries? In this sense, guns serve as a way of putting into sharp focus deeper questions about the institutional and social contexts of belonging and exclusion in U.S. politics.

Limited to 30 students. Spring semester. Associate Professor Obert.

How to handle overenrollment: Preference will be given to Political Science majors.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Emphasis on written work; reading.

POSC 152 - LEC

Section 01
W 12:30 PM - 1:50 PM FAYE 113
F 12:30 PM - 1:50 PM FAYE 113

ISBN Title Publisher Author(s) Comment Book Store Price
The NRA: The Unauthorized History Flatiron Books Frank Smyth Amherst Books TBD
The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America Bloomsbury Carol Anderson Amherst Books TBD

These books are available locally at Amherst Books.


Other years: Offered in Fall 2022, Spring 2024