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Utter publishes three-volume work on ‘Guns and Contemporary Society’

A recent publication by Lamar University Distinguished Professor Emeritus Glenn Utter has been crafted in order to get its readers thinking critically about gun rights and gun control.  Guns and Contemporary Society: The Past, Present, and Future of Firearms and Firearm Policy examines various approaches to firearms, including constitutional and legal issues, public health and criminal justice concerns, and perspectives on personal safety and self-defense.

Book coverIn this 861-page hard-hitting compilation, experts delve into firearms in America —from gun control and gun rights to militia movements, to school-related shootings, and to the recent trends in gun ownership by women. Authors from varied backgrounds and viewpoints share their perspectives on the pros and cons of firearm ownership as all of the following: a constitutional right, a key instrument of self-defense, a guarantee of political freedoms, and as a major factor in crime and personal injury. The book is available in hardcover or eBook from ABC-CLIO 978-1-4408-3217-8.

The reference work is divided into three volumes. The first covers firearm history, legislation, and policy; the second explores public opinion, gun ownership trends, international laws, and self-defense; and the third considers popular debates about firearm policy, including concealed carry of firearms, terrorism and the ownership of firearms, background checks for purchasing guns, and stand-your-ground laws. The work concludes with an informed debate on gun policy between Richard Feldman, president of the Independent Firearm Owners, and Paul Helmke, former president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

Included are essays treating in-depth significant contemporary issues including firearms trafficking, recent court decisions, the import and export of firearms and the United Nations Small Arms Treaty, the relationship between suicide and the availability of firearms, guns in public schools, proposals to permit concealed carry of firearms on college and university campuses, the legal use of firearms for self-defense (including stand-your-ground laws and their consequences), the domestic threat of terrorist attacks and the availability of firearms to those on the terrorist watch list, and the effectiveness of criminal background check policies in reducing crime rates.

The volumes provide details of value to researchers, teachers, students, public officials, law-enforcement personnel, and the general reader interested in gaining understanding on the issues.   Contributing to the work are individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds including academic fields, constitutional law, and public policy.

“The topic of gun rights and gun control is top of mind for many Americans,” said Utter.  “There are those who, motivated by self-defense concerns, interest in gun collecting, participation in sports and hunting, and the all-around love of firearms, avidly defend the right to keep and bear arms.”

On the other end of the spectrum, Utter describes “those who, due to their concern for such unfortunate consequences of the presence of firearms as accidental and intentional gun-related injuries and deaths, and perhaps a general dislike of firearms as dangerous instruments, strive to place greater restrictions on firearm purchases and possession.”

The largest portion of the U.S. population is not polarized, but rather “tends to support, rather mildly … various limitations on firearm ownership and use, although the proportion of the general population supporting gun rights has tended to increase in recent years,” Utter said.

Pro-gun right advocates have seen success as they have pressed their case, Utter said, and “At the state level, legislatures continue to approve legislation, such as concealed carry provisions and stand-your-ground laws, that broaden gun rights.”

In Texas, recent legislation has expanded the locations where licensed individuals may carry concealed weapons.

Utter’s work presents how groups advocating gun control measures have adapted their goals and methods to increase success, finding more success in a state-by-state strategy. “Instances of political action indicate that firearms policy continues to be a focus of interest groups and government officials,” Utter said.

Utter served as professor and chair of the Department of Political Science at Lamar University where he taught since 1969. His areas of instruction included American government and politics and classical and contemporary political thought. He received his B.A. in political science from the State University of New York at Binghamton, his M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and his M.A. in philosophy from the University of London (Bedford College).

The manuscript reviewer of two political science journals, Utter has authored the books Campaign and Election Reform, Youth and Political Participation: A Reference Handbook, Culture Wars in America: A Documentary and Reference Guide, The Religious Right: A Reference Handbook, and Encyclopedia of Gun Control & Gun Rights, and edited American Political Scientists: A Dictionary. He is also the author of numerous articles and book chapters.