As the U.S. Supreme Court considers a case that may result in vastly expanded rights to carry firearms in public, I argue in this op-ed that we need a “common vocabulary and a shared metric for quantifying the lethality of firearms in historical terms when approaching Second Amendment policy and doctrine.” The lethality of modern firearms has grown exponentially since the mid-1800s, and the deadliness of a particular weapon is essential when considering the conditions under which an individual can carry a firearm in public.

Given the rapid technological change we’ve seen in firearms over the last century and a half, the notion that guns should be viewed equally across all times and places is logically flawed: “A gun is a gun is a gun” only in the same way that an ox cart and a space rocket are both vehicles.

Read more on CNN Opinion.


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Jennifer Tucker is a historian who studies the interrelations of art and science, photography, and mass visual culture, with a specialization in 19th to mid-20th century British, U.S., and trans-Pacific history. The common threads in her diverse research fields are the dynamics of visual media in modern history, the nature of evidence, public perceptions and practices of history, and the interrelationships of science, technology, and the law.

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