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Publisher's Summary

The Second Amendment: the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Throughout history, the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States has protected the right to bear arms. For Black Americans, this has come with the understanding that the moment they exercise this right (or the moment that they don’t), their life - as surely as the lives of Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor - may be snatched away in a single, fateful second.

In The Second, historian and award-winning author Carol Anderson illuminates the history and impact of the Second Amendment: from the 17th century, when it was encoded into law that the enslaved could not own, carry or use a firearm, to today, where measures to expand and curtail gun ownership continue to limit the freedoms and power of Black Americans. Through compelling historical narrative merging into the unfolding events of recent years, Anderson’s investigation shows that the Second Amendment is not about guns but about anti-Blackness, revealing the magnitude of institutional racism in America today.

©2021 Carol Anderson, Ph.D. (P)2021 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Critic Reviews

"Carol Anderson brings her brilliant analytical framing to one of our most pressing issues: the proliferation of guns and the epidemic of American gun violence.... A must-read for students of American History." (Natasha Trethewey, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, former US Poet Laureate, author of Memorial Drive)

"The second amendment, as Carol Anderson deftly establishes here, was written in the blood of enslaved black people. Our stalemated gun rights debates have focused on the idea that the second amendment preserves liberty rather than its historic role in denying it. This book does a great deal to change the parameters of that conversation." (Jelani Cobb, New Yorker staff writer, author of The Substance of Hope

"Extraordinarily important.... In her trademark engaging and unflinching prose, Dr. Anderson traces America’s racist history of gun laws from the 1639 Virginia colony’s prohibition on Africans carrying guns to the recent police murders of Breonna Taylor and Emantic Bradford, Jr.... Anderson’s deft scholarship convincingly places the right to use force at the center of American citizenship, and warns that the Second Amendment, as it is currently exercised, guarantees that Black Americans will never be equal." (Heather Cox Richardson, author of How the South Won the Civil War

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