Jennifer Carlson

Nov 8, 2021

Policing the Second Amendment

Guns, Law Enforcement, and the Politics of Race

Princeton University Press 2020

When Americans talk about guns, they often use terms like “gun rights” or “gun control.” They also tend to separate gun politics and the politics of the police. In Policing and the Second Amendment: Guns, Law Enforcement, and the Politics of Race (Princeton University Press, 2021), Jennifer Carlson identifies the inaccuracies of both. She provides two alternative narratives of American “gun talk” -- gun militarism and gun populism -- that clarify the stakes in today’s gun debates.. Based on her extensive research – using local and national newspapers, interviews with police chiefs, and observations made at gun licensing boards – she insists these two discourses reveal how race shapes both how gun politics unfold and how gun policies are created to differentiate between legitimate violence and criminal violence. Coercive social control is organized by racialized understandings of gun violence. Carlson demonstrates the roles that the NRA, police chiefs, and gun administrators play in distinguishing the boundaries of legitimate violence for both private and public gun owners. For her, linking the politics of guns with the politics of the police clarifies our political and policy debates -- as well as the complex terrain negotiated each day between police and private civilians in our social lives.

Dr. Jennifer Carlson is an Associate Professor of Sociology, Government, & Public Policy at the University of Arizona. Her remarkable earlier book, Citizen-Protectors: The Everyday Politics of Guns in an Age of Decline (Oxford, 2015), has shaped the study of how guns impact American society in multiple fields. Her public facing scholarship includes commentary in the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post.

Daniella Campos assisted with this podcast.

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