Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America
By Adam Winkler, W.W. Norton, 362 pages, $27.95
The nation was horrified in January when Jared Loughner shot 20 people in Tucson, Arizona, killing 6 and wounding 14. But as horrified as we may be, we are also inured to this kind of carnage. Other armed-to-the-teeth madmen shot 48 people at the University of Texas in 1966; 35 schoolchildren at an elementary school in Stockton, California, in 1989; 43 people at a cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, in 1991; 38 people at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999; 49 students and faculty at Virginia Tech in 2007; and 43 people at Fort Hood in Texas in 2009. These events are only the biggest and most widely reported massacres on a long list.
In the Contract with America, all but one of the ten legislative proposals deal with traditional matters of popular interest such as taxes, social security, welfare, and crime. Then there is proposal number nine, the so-called Common Sense Legal Reforms Act, which is, among other things, purportedly designed "to create 'loser pays' laws--reasonable limits on punitive damages and reform of products liability laws to stem the endless tide of litigation."