University of Rochester


Everybody gets shot down there’: Gun Violence, Gun Control, and Police Power

Patrick Blanchfield

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Debates over gun control are among the most fractious in American politics. But the term "gun control" itself actually has a remarkably recent origin, emerging only in the specific circumstances of the 1960s. Yet both regulating the distribution of firearms and litigating the individual American's right to use them have always been central preoccupations for American society, with clear tendencies recurring from the settler era to the present. In this talk, we'll bracket easy partisan polemics in order to critically explore both gun control's recent history as well as this deeper structure. Focusing in particular on the recent and contemporary landscape, our goal will be to reframe today's abstract debates about "gun control" in terms of urgent, practical questions involving race, policing, and the control of space.

Patrick Blanchfield is associate faculty at Brooklyn Institute for Social Research and author of Gunpower: The System of American Violence (Verso, 2019)