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Debating the Second Amendment: Roundtable participants

With the gun control debate raging after the mass school shooting in Newtown, CT, Need to Know examines the history of the Second Amendment and how it shapes the discussion today. Ray Suarez anchors a panel including: George Mason Law School professor Joyce Lee Malcolm, former New York Times foreign correspondent and editor Craig Whitney, and Fordham University history professor Saul Cornell.

Saul Cornell

Saul CornellSaul Cornell is the Paul and Diane Guenther Chair in American History history at Fordham University. A constitutional scholar, he is the author of “A Well-Regulated Militia: The Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control” and “The Other Founders: Anti-Federalism and the Dissenting Tradition in America, 1788—1828.” His work has been cited by the Supreme Court.  Cornell is also an advocate for multimedia learning and a co-author of the “Visions of America”  general textbook. – What the “right to bear arms” really means,

Joyce Lee Malcolm

Joyce Lee MalcolmJoyce Lee Malcolm is a constitutional law professor at George Mason University Law School. A noted historian, she’s the author of several books including” To Keep and Bear Arms: The Origin of an Anglo-American Right,” “Guns and Violence: The English Experience,” and “Peter’s War: A New England Slave Child and the American Revolution.”  Malcolm’s work was cited in the recent Supreme Court gun regulation ruling District of Columbia versus Heller.

I think the great majority of Americans have always assumed that it was their individual right. There are 44 states that have the right to keep and bear arms in their Constitutions. And some o’ those were recently changed to make it absolutely explicit that they’re individual.

Craig Whitney

Craig WhitneyCraig Whitney is the author of “Living With Guns: A Liberal’s Case for the Second Amendment.” Whitney was a foreign correspondent and editor at the New York Times — holding positions from night editor to assistant managing editor in charge of standards and ethics. Whitney served in the navy during the Vietnam War and later returned the region as the Times bureau chief from 1972-1973. Whitney has written a biography of a Cold War figure: “Spy Trader” and edited “The WMD Mirage,” a collection of the documents and journalism surrounding the disputed case made for the Iraq War.

Nothing in the Second Amendment has ever banned common-sense gun regulations. Even the conservative Supreme Court majority that struck down the District of Columbia’s ban on handguns in 2008 recognized that. Legislators should stop being cowed by the NRA and start making it live up to its own words on enforcing laws on the books. And NRA members who disagree with the lobby’s party line should start speaking up, and telling their senators and congressmen what they really think. Only then will common sense have a fighting chance against no-brain legislating like what we saw in the Senate on April 17. – “Now What?

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