Gunfight, the Biography of Guns in America, Isn’t Taking Sides

When UCLA law professor Adam Winkler first began to promote his new book, Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America, he spoke to a booking agent about appearing on television news programs.

“So which side are you on,” the agent asked, “far-right or far-left?” Winkler explained that neither he nor his book came down hard on either side of the gun debate, to which the agent replied incredulously, “Have you ever seen a TV news show?” Nuance, it seems, doesn’t get booked on FOX or MSNBC. So without an extremist stance, Winkler’s career as a talking head was over before it began.

This anecdote was shared with guests by the author at his book party in Beverly Hills Thursday night, held at the home of his parents, Irwin and Margo Winkler, and co-hosted by Arianna Huffington and Ron and Kelly Meyer. But the history of guns in America, Winkler explained, doesn’t correspond neatly with extreme ideologies.

For instance, the KKK was founded in large part as a gun control organization, determined to keep firearms out of the hands of the black populace. The wild west had some of the strictest gun laws in American history. And if James Madison, a.k.a. “the Father of the Constitution,” were running for office today, he’d be hard pressed to gain the endorsement of the NRA.

Yeah, you won’t find that sort of talk on Bill O’Reilly. But it will be available at the Los Angeles Public Library come September 27th, when Winkler kicks off his book tour with a Q&A. Winkler will also appear at the West Hollywood Book Fair on October 2.

An excerpt of Gunfight can be found of the current issue of The Atlantic.

Author Adam Winkler with his father, Irwin Winkler.