Amanpour Claims ‘Law-Abiding Citizens’ Commit Most Murders

Gun Rights

Next to Kansas City and the aftermath of a mass shooting during the Chiefs Super Bowl victory celebration last night. One person was killed and 30 injured. It’s the third mass shooting in America this week and at least the 48th already this year according to the Gun Violence Archive. President Joe Biden said the events “should move us, shock us , shame us into acting. How many more families need to be torn apart?” But lawmakers are paralyzed by a belief in 2nd Amendment protection for an individual’s right to bear arms. In a critically acclaimed new book called One Nation Under Guns, historian Dominic Erdozain argues that America’s founders never actually intended for gun rights to override every other right. We spoke just before this latest mass shooting.

Dominic Erdozain, welcome to the program.

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DOMINIC ERDOZAIN, AUTHOR: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: So your book has had amazing reviews, and I find it interesting as a, you know, as a Brit sitting in Britain, that you’re a Brit in America looking at this incredible, you know, catastrophe really that we all look, at, and you’re seeing it from a very different perspective than perhaps most Americans.

ERDOZAIN: Absolutely. I think that anyone traveling to the U.S. from abroad is going to be — kind of experience some culture shock, and I think I just wasn’t prepared for this this kind of rolling nightmare of gun violence and, in a sense, the fatalism and resignation that seem to surround it among liberals and conservatives alike as something kind of fixed and permanent. And I think that that was where my skepticism as an outsider came from really to understand, “Is this just America? Or is this some sort of aberration or some kind of distortion of the American political tradition?” And that’s what my book was all about.

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AMANPOUR: You know, the facts, as you state, law-abiding citizens — I guess the good guys — are actually responsible for much of America’s murder rate. Most gun deaths are the result of altercations within known groups — family or friends. So how is that still being, you know, totted out — or trotted out — as a legitimate defense?

ERDOZAIN: I think a lot of it is fear that transcends the facts and is larger in people’s minds than the empirical realities of what guns do. But I think, you know, the Trump excerpt shows that this is a culture war issue. I don’t know that his heart was ever really in it, you know. In his first book where he was thinking of running as an independent I think in 2000. You know, he chastised the Republican party for its slavish fidelity to the National Rifle Association, and he seemed perfectly willing at that stage to think in terms of gun control

the same after recent shootings, and then he was talked back. I feel that so much of this is confected. There was a big piece in the Washington Post on the AR-15 where conservative pundits were saying, “Well, no one really needed one, but it was a good way of, you know, turning out noses up to the left. So a lot of this is confected. And that’s one of the things that gives me hope that a younger generation could see through it — could see through the artifice of many of these arguments.

AMANPOUR: The full title of your book is One Nation Under Guns: How Gun Culture Distorts Our History and Threatens Our Democracy. How does it threaten our democracy?

ERDOZAIN: Well, this is where I try to go beyond some of the many brilliant scholars who’ve talked about the 2nd Amendment and individual rights is to understand democracy really as a way of life, a vision of freedom. You know, democracy is more than how we elect our leaders or try to. It’s about living without fear of violence. It’s about freedom to interact with one another and trust. You know, political scientists talk about social capital. One of my favorite sources in the book is Edward Kennedy, who lost two brothers to assassin’s books, and he says it’s not just the pool of death the guns have created — it’s the appalling specter of fear that guns have cast over our communities. And that is precisely the language of the Founders is the language of the architect of this democratic tradition. And that is what guns are destroying on a daily basis.

Dominic Erdozain, thank you so much. Really important investigation.

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