A Disarming History of the Second Amendment

Boston Magazine and bookseller recommendation for books to read while in "self-isolation."
Mar 19, 2020

"Dunbar-Ortiz strikes a nerve in this book by not only challenging the idea of gun ownership as a sacred right essential to American identity, but confronting its racist origins. Within this small book, the author probes why Americans, like herself for a time, have long had an affinity for firearms and links this history to the rise of white nationalism in the U.S."—Christina Ciampa, All She Wrote Books, Somerville, MA

"Loaded" referenced in New York Times Op-Ed
Jan 22, 2020

"The Iconic Man With a Gun Is a White Man: Protesters in Virginia were re-enacting—and re-embracing—an exclusionary vision of American history." By Jamelle Bouie 

Interview on "On Contact with Chris Hedges"
Mar 3, 2019

In the US, right-wing groups such as the National Rifle Association interpret the Second Amendment of the US Constitution as permitting any individual to own weapons. In this episode of On Contact, Chris Hedges speaks with historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortriz. In her new book Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment, and in her conversation with Chris Hedges, she argues that the amendment has more to do with white supremacy and the subjugation of indigenous people, African-Americans and immigrants than the individual right to have a gun.

Concord Monitor
Apr 21, 2019

"Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz has articulated a provocative and different perspective on why there was a Second Amendment placed so prominently in the Bill of Rights. In her book Loaded, she argues that the Second Amendment enshrined an individual gun right to allow settlers to form volunteer militias to attack Indians and take their land."—Jonathan P. Baird, Concord Monitor

- Jonathan P. Baird

LOADED is one of the San Francisco Chronicle's Best Books of 2018
Dec 18, 2018

Chosen a top 25 book of 2018 by Counterpunch
Dec 14, 2018

Chosen a top 10 book of 2018 in the Eugene Weekly
Dec 13, 2018

Interview with Doug Henwood on the Left Business Observer
Dec 6, 2018

"What White Supremacists Know" essay in the Boston Review
Nov 20, 2018

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz interviewed in the documentary "Why America"
Nov 13, 2018

Since October 2017, America experienced three of the deadliest mass shootings in modern history. This epidemic coincides with a frightening resurgence of white nationalism. Sometimes the two trends overlap. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz is interviewed in a documentary on the subject called "Why America? Mass Shootings & White Nationalism Share Roots."

Project Syndicate
Oct 16, 2018

"In a brilliant book, Loaded, historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz reminds us that the 'well-regulated militias' mentioned in the US Constitution's Second Amendment, which enshrines the right to bear arms, were groups of white men that raided native American villages and hunted down escaped slaves."—Jeffrey D. Sachs

Africa World Now Project
Oct 8, 2018

Interview with Africa World Now Project, Washington DC

LOADED (by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz) reviewed in The Christian Century
Sep 18, 2018

"In her gripping narrative, Dunbar-Ortiz draws connections between the settlers who destroyed indigenous communities and the rise of the alt-right, as well as between slave patrols terrorizing black people and contemporary police shootings of unarmed people."—Chris Hammer, The Christian Century

Socialist Worker
Jul 24, 2018

"Gun culture and its racist roots are clearly woven into U.S. society. Dunbar-Ortiz points out that the almost religious reverence for the Second Amendment is a constant barrier to any form of gun control or restrictions."—Jessie Muldoon, Socialist Worker

- Jessie Muldoon

Public Books
Jul 23, 2018

"Loaded is a compelling antidote to historical amnesia about the brutal origins of the United States' unique 'gun culture.' Dunbar-Ortiz draws on decades of historical scholarship to illuminate the practice of Native genocide while framing the Second Amendment as the grounds for a violence-based nationalism."


- Caroline E. Light

Read an excerpt from "Loaded" on “Somosenescrito"
Jun 13, 2018

Publishers Weekly

"In her trenchant analysis of the Second Amendment, Dunbar-Ortiz (An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States) avoids a legalistic approach and eschews the traditional view that links the amendment to citizens' need to protect themselves from a tyrannical government. Instead, she argues that the Second Amendment was passed to facilitate the genocide of Native Americans in order to steal their land and to provide a means for slaveholders to control their human property. She supports her thesis with numerous examples of atrocities directed at Native Americans in the late 18th and 19th centuries, and notes that 'slave patrols' were used to capture runaway slaves and bolster power among slave owners. To Dunbar-Ortiz, the Second Amendment is a reflection of an American gun culture that has countenanced genocide, slavery, and a scourge of civilian-perpetrated mass murders in the modern era. Though she acknowledges that there is 'no way to prove a correlation between war-related crimes and domestic mass shootings,' she believes that Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, and other similar tragedies are the predictable dark shadow and 'domestic expression' of what historian Andrew J. Bacevich dubbed 'the new American militarism.' Dunbar-Ortiz’s argument will be disturbing and unfamiliar to most readers, but her evidence is significant and should not be ignored."—Publishers Weekly

Petoskey News Review

"Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz should . . . be required reading for anyone who wishes to debate the constitutional or the historical framework of our right to own guns."—Glen Young, Petoskey News Review

"Loaded referenced by Think Progress"
Apr 30, 2018

"White supremacists are absolutely correct in pointing to the Second Amendment as having been created for their supremacy in perpetuity, so that what they regarded as 'tyranny' was and is any deviance by government from that arrangement," Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, the author of Loaded, a recent history of the Second Amendment, told ThinkProgress.

- Casey Michel

"Essay on Public Seminar"
Apr 13, 2018

In his essay "Mass Shooting and the Spectacle of Whiteness," Benjamin Balthaser cites Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz who "reminds us that U.S. settlers arrived in the Americas armed to the teeth, mandating guns to white citizens for the sole purpose of seizing and holding land that belonged to Native Americans."


"Dunbar-Ortiz and other scholars are responding to the surge in mass shootings over the past two decades. In doing so, she and others are rewriting the history of the country's permissive gun laws, especially the Second Amendment. Her Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment is one of the best historical analyses of U.S. 'gun love.'"—Sundiata Cha-Jua, News-Gazette, Champaign, IL

Teen Vogue
Apr 9, 2018

Sezin Koehler's op-ed in TEEN VOGUE uses Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's LOADED to dismantle the mythology behind why white, male shooters are often referred to as "Lone Wolves."

Los Angeles Times
Apr 6, 2018

Los Angeles Times'  book editor Carolyn Kellogg recommends Roxanne's panel at the upcoming LA Times Book Festival!

"Bustle recommends 5 short books about gun control"
Apr 5, 2018
- Sadie Trombetta

"Commentary in the Calaveras Enterprise"
Apr 5, 2018
- Jerry Tuck

"The Second Amendment : A Sacred Covenant of Ethnic Cleansing and Slavery Between the Nation State and Settler Militias"
Apr 4, 2018
- Christine Nobiss

"How 'Black Panther' Sees the World by John Feffer in Foreign Policy in Focus"
Apr 4, 2018

"At a time when hundreds of thousands of people rallied against guns and gun violence over the last week, a movement led by many young people of color, America must address the Killmonger ideology that underlies so much of domestic and foreign policy. It must reckon not only with the racist history of gun violence — revealed so powerfully in Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's Loaded — but with how far-right ideologies rely on armed violence today. It must come to terms with the fact that it’s not such a big gap between extremist militias at home and what John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and Donald Trump want to do abroad."—John Feffer

"Essay on Truthdig: Role of Youths in the Coming Transformation"
Apr 3, 2018
- Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers

"Interview on Urban Agenda"
Mar 31, 2018

"Essay on Bulatlat"
Mar 30, 2018

"Essay on Global Research"
Mar 29, 2018

"She reminds the reader of the central role of violence and the reason why the second amendment was seen by the ruling elite of the U.S. settler state as a fundamental right, second only to freedom of speech. She argues that the gun control and the normalization of violence was essential to how white nationalism, racialized dominance, and social control through systematic violence operated in the U.S. It was the method in which white settlers appropriated Native land and controlled their massive enslaved population."—Ajamu Baraka

"Interview on WMNF, Tampa FL"
Mar 29, 2018

"Interview on CFUV Radio"
Mar 29, 2018

"Essay on Common Dreams"
Mar 28, 2018

"Certainly, gun violence has its own trajectory, separate from the history of militarism in America. However, as so brilliantly argued by Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz in her essential study of the origins and impact of the Second Amendment called Loaded, the history of guns, militarism, colonialism, and racism is incontrovertibly interconnected."—Fran Shor

"Interview in 'The Lumberjack,' a student publication at Humboldt State University"
Mar 28, 2018

Rethinking Schools

"As we seek to develop a curriculum to help students probe the roots of gun violence in the United States, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's Loaded is a vital resource. Dunbar-Ortiz argues that the right to a 'well regulated militia' enshrined in the Second Amendment has been widely misunderstood and misrepresented. She writes: 'The militias referred to in the Second Amendment were a means for white people to eliminate Indigenous communities in order to take their land and for slave patrols to control Black people.' She argues that today’s U.S. 'gun culture' can only be understood as the product of the history of white supremacy in the United States."—Rethinking Schools

"Interview on KJZZ, Tempe, AZ"
Mar 27, 2018

New York Review of Books

"Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's Loaded is like a blast of fresh air. She is no fan of guns or of our absurdly permissive laws surrounding them. But she does not merely take the liberal side of the familiar debate."—Adam Hochschild

"'Guns in the Family' by Walter Johnson. Essay in The Boston Review"
Mar 23, 2018

"In her new history of the Second Amendment, Loaded (full confession: I loved the book enough to blurb it), Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz shows that the history of gun owning and use in the United States has always been connected with imperial genocide and racial slavery. Notably, the constitutional provision for the keeping of a 'well-regulated militia' was (contrary to the ahistorical reading prevalent today) not about defending the country from outside threat but rather aimed at arming white men against Native Americans and the threat of slave insurrections. In other words, the defense of gun ownership has always been rooted in anxieties about the need to defend white homesteads and households against a racialized, gendered threat: blacks, Indians, women who threaten their husbands' masculinity, kids who won't obey their fathers."

"Commentary in the LA Progressive"
Mar 15, 2018

"The N.R.A., Gun Control and Black People: A Complicated History: Looking at the history of guns and Black people in America, the founding of the nation was based on violence against people of African descent. American gun culture is rooted in settler colonialism, the taking of Native American land and the enslavement of African people as memorialized in the Second Amendment, according to author Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's account in Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment. The militias institutionalized the violence against Black and indigenous peoples."—David A. Love

"Interview on Writer's Voice Radio"
Mar 14, 2018

"Interview on 'Between The Lines,' WPKN CT"
Mar 14, 2018

"Scott Harris spoke with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of the new book, Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment. Here, she discusses the hidden origins of the NRA, which has transformed from a club promoting target shooting and hunting, to an organization now identified with right-wing culture wars and white nationalism."

"Interview in Yes Magazine"
Mar 13, 2018

"The Racist Origin of the Second Amendment and the Rise of Black Gun Ownership: Many people of color are faced with uneasy support for a civil right that began as a way to oppress them."
In an interview, Dunbar-Ortiz explained that the right to have a gun comes from the Bill of Rights. "And the Bill of Rights is about individual rights,” which at the time it was written meant the rights of White men who needed guns to dominate slaves and Native Americans.

"'Ask a Bookseller' on Minnesota Public Radio"
Mar 9, 2018

Alyson Turner of Source Booksellers, Detroit MI, recommends LOADED by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz.
With the conversation over gun control filling the news, Turner was hooked by Dunbar-Ortiz's research: "I thought: Wow, there's so much more to the argument about the Second Amendment, I should read into it."

Religion Dispatches

"In her highly readable and timely new book, Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz deftly traces the historical and religious roots attaching to the sanctity of the Second Amendment in the minds of millions of Americans who are not gun owners or NRA members."—Peter Laarman, Religion Dispatches

"Feature on Public Books, '13 Key Works for Understanding Guns in the USA'"
Mar 6, 2018

Mar 6, 2018

"Interview on The Forum, hosted by Grace Cathedral in San Francisco"
Mar 6, 2018

San Francisco Chronicle

"Dunbar-Ortiz demonstrates that the violence sanctioned by the Second Amendment was a key factor in transforming America into a 'militaristic-capitalist' powerhouse. . . . Dunbar-Ortiz's unhealthy relationship with guns ended after about two years. America’s has lasted a lot longer, but in the wake of Stoneman Douglas, there might be reason, at last, for some very cautious optimism."—Kevin Canfield, San Francisco Chronicle

"Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz wins the Association for Ethnic Studies' Outstanding Book Award for LOADED!"
Mar 2, 2018

"An excerpt from LOADED on In These Times"
Mar 2, 2018

The Colonial Roots of Gun Culture: The origins of the U.S. gun obsession lie in the violent dispossession of Native America.

"Interview on The Majority Report with Sam Seder"
Mar 1, 2018

"Interview on KBOO, Portland, OR"
Feb 28, 2018

"Interview on KZYX's Forthright Radio"
Feb 28, 2018

"Interview on The Intercept"
Feb 28, 2018

"There's a new book that just came out that lays out a provocative argument for getting rid of the Second Amendment in its entirety, and the book asserts that the NRA has become a white nationalist organization."—Jeremy Scahill

"Oped on History News Network"
Feb 27, 2018

"Both Sides Have Been Getting the Gun Debate Wrong"
"We have a gun culture not because of the sanctity of the 2nd Amendment, but because killing, looting, burning, raping, and terrorizing Indians were an American tradition and militias helped carry out these horrors."—Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

"'Guns and Liberty,' an essay by Chris Hedges on Truthdig"
Feb 25, 2018

The historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz in her book Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment also illustrates how the racist, white settler vision of the world continues to color our perception of reality.

"'Refusing to accept a society steeped in violence,' an essay on the SocialistWorker.org"
Feb 22, 2018

"In her new book Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz traces the centrality of violence in the U.S. from colonialism through to police killings and imperialism."

"City Lights podcast features Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz discussing LOADED"
Feb 21, 2018

"Interview on 'Law and Disorder' WBAI, New York City"
Feb 19, 2018

City Lights author Heidi Boghosian and Johanna Fernandez interview Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz about LOADED, beginning at 5 minutes, 30 seconds.

"February 2018 Indie Wire"
Feb 8, 2018

Ingram staff Davina Powell and Gail Vinett recommend LOADED!

"An interview with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz in The Willamette Weekly"
Feb 21, 2018

Dunbar-Ortiz discusses the mass shooting in Parkland, FL:
"People are just lost right now. When a shooting like this happens, when there are so many victims, when they're babies—you almost don't want to bring up the fact that we have to look deeper for the causes. You want an immediate solution. A mother yesterday asked Trump and Congress: 'You have to stop this. Make it so children don't get guns.' I was on the phone all day with reporters, and I hesitated: Is this the time to talk about history? But there's no better time for people to say, wait a minute, there must be some deeper cause."Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

"Interview with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz on Mediapart, France"
Feb 19, 2018

"Dunbar-Ortiz establishes a substantial historical link between the fundamental violence of American society and 'white nationalism,' historically opposed to the equality of rights, today nourished by a great anguish vis-a-vis the demographic evolution of the United States where whites are doomed to become a minority."

"The U.S.'s Culture of Violence Contributes to the Sanctification of the Second Amendment: An Interview with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz on Truthout"
Feb 19, 2018

As far as guns are concerned, the word "freedom" represents the "right" of white gun-owners to preserve white nationalism. The Second Amendment is a product of white settler colonialism, says author Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz in this exclusive interview.

Los Angeles Review of Books

"If . . . anyone at all really wants to 'get to the root causes of gun violence in America,' they will need to start by coming to terms with even a fraction of what Loaded proposes. . . .  the full depth of this idea that guns are fundamentally tools of racism may be uncomfortable to confront. But it is that depth and discomfort that sets Loaded apart from the near constant and often dead-ended discussions about gun violence in the United States."—Mark Trecka, Los Angeles Review of Books

"Interview with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz on 'This is Hell!'"
Feb 8, 2018

"Interview on KPFA Berkeley, CA"
Feb 1, 2018

Interview with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz about Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment.

"Video of Roxane Dunbar-Ortiz's discussion of Loaded"
Jan 31, 2018

CSPAN BOOK TV features multiple airings of Dunbar-Ortiz's Jan 5th event at Politics and Prose, Washington DC. Nice introduction by store owner Bradley Graham.

"Book excerpt by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz examines The Band"
Jan 30, 2018

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz discusses liberal musician love (Robbie Robertson/The Band and Joan Baez) for "The Night They Drove Dixie Down," a rock n' roll anthem celebrating the Confederacy.

"Truthout commentary on Dunbar-Ortiz's Loaded"
Jan 30, 2018

"LITHUB features book excerpt of Loaded"
Jan 26, 2018

"Interview Featuring Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz"
Jan 25, 2018

Airs on 20 radio stations nationwide, Free Speech TV, Dish Network, DirecTV, Roku, and Vimeo.

"Truthout excerpts a chapter of LOADED"
Jan 18, 2018

"Excerpt from LOADED posted on The Monthly Review"
Jan 8, 2018

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz discusses settler colonialism and the Second Amendment.

"Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz awarded the 2017 Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize"
Jan 1, 2018

Lannan Foundation has awarded a Cultural Freedom Prize to historian and activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz for the achievements of her lifetime of tireless work. Professor Dunbar-Ortiz, who is professor emerita at California State University, East Bay, is the author of Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment (City Lights Publishers, 2018), about the racist roots of the second amendment; An Indigenous People's History of the United States (2014); and eleven other books. 
She is an activist with the global indigenous people’s movement for national sovereignty, international recognition, and environmental rights. Professor Dunbar-Ortiz has also been involved in social  movements for women’s equality, and for the rights of oppressed nations in Central America during the region’s civil wars. She has helped to develop and explain more clearly than perhaps any other scholar the theory of settler-colonialism, especially as it applies to New Mexico and other states in the interior West specifically, and the United States in general. She also serves as a mentor to young scholars. 

Lannan Foundation began the Cultural Freedom Prize for Lifetime Achievement in 1999 to honor Eduardo Galeano. Other winners have been criminal defense lawyer Bryan Stevenson of Alabama’s Equal Justice Initiative, theologian/scholar Cornel West, artist Claudia Andujar, poet Mahmoud Darwish, activist and writer Arundhati Roy, physician and activist Helen Caldicott, and journalist Robert Fisk.

"Interview in The Atlanta Black Star"
Dec 13, 2017

"300 million guns are owned by 30 percent of people. Ninety percent are owned by white men, and the average number of guns owned are eight," she said. "Coming from rural Oklahoma myself, I'm familiar with white nationalism and how it goes into the white evangelical churches. I grew up knowing about it. It is second nature to me. . . .  I didn’t hear about the Second Amendment growing up."—Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz 

New Republic

"As the writer and historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz argues in her brilliant new book, Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment, America's obsession with guns has roots in a long, bloody legacy of racist vigilantism, militarism, and white nationalism. This past, Dunbar-Ortiz persuasively argues, undergirds both the landscape of gun violence to this day and our partisan debates about guns. Her analysis, erudite and unrelenting, exposes blind spots not just among conservatives, but, crucially, among liberals as well. . . . As a portrait of the deepest structures of American violence, Loaded is an indispensable book."—Patrick Blanchfield

"Mumia Abu-Jamal discusses 'Loaded'"
Nov 27, 2017

Loaded: Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz Takes Aim at 2nd Amendment, by Mumia Abu-Jamal

The Hofstra Chronicle
Nov 14, 2017

Ja'Loni Owens of The Hofstra Chronicle uses Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's Loaded to discuss the Second Amendment in relation to race and genocide.

"Excerpt appears on The Guardian U.S.'s web site"
Nov 10, 2017

"Gun-love can be akin to non-chemical addictions like gambling or hoarding, either of which can have devastating effects, mainly economic, but murder, suicide, accidental death, and mass shootings result only from guns."—Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Wear Your Voice Magazine
Oct 21, 2017

"Dunbar-Ortiz's subtle deconstructions of the various works which contributed to our misunderstandings of the Second Amendment’s roots are vitally required reading, especially in our current era of daily mass shootings and political inaction toward better gun control. The white supremacy that Dunbar-Ortiz exposes with surgical exactness is the true foundation of the America we know today."—Sezin Koehler, Wear Your Voice Magazine

Kirkus Reviews
Oct 9, 2017

"A provocative cultural analysis arguing that the Second Amendment and white supremacy are inextricably bound. Though some argue that the Second Amendment is necessary to protect the 'right to bear arms' for hunters and other law-abiding citizens, Dunbar-Ortiz (An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, 2014) maintains that the 'well-regulated militia' has been the crucial element all along. This has given rise to many malicious groups, including slave hunters, the Ku Klux Klan, and white nationalists intent on race war (what one source dubs 'rahowa…short for racial holy war') as well as 'seasoned Indian killers of the Revolutionary Army and white settler-rangers/militias using extreme violence against Indigenous noncombatants with the goal of total domination.'  It may sound extreme, but the author's historical research provides strong support for her argument that gun love is as American as apple pie—and that those guns have often been in the hands of a powerful white majority to subjugate minority natives, slaves, or others who might stand in the way of the broadest definition of Manifest Destiny. 'The United States is not unique among nations in forging origin myths,' writes Dunbar-Ortiz, 'but only one of the few in which its citizens seem to believe it to be exceptional by grace of the Creator, and this exceptionalist ideology has been used to justify genocide, appropriation of the continent, and then domination of the rest of the world.' The author's analysis encompasses the growth of the arms industry, the embrace of the Western outlaw mythos, and the controversy over the Second Amendment itself, which was paid 'little attention' until the second half of the 20th century, when civil rights, war protest, and rising crime rates increased the call for gun control. This compact manifesto won't convince everyone, but it presents a formidable argument. A radical revision of American history, specifically as it relates to its persistent gun culture."—Kirkus Reviews        

"Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz is interviewed by The Guardian"
Oct 5, 2017

"'Publishers Weekly,' Fall 2017 Announcements: History"
Jun 23, 2017

"Peels away the myths of gun culture to uncover the true historical origins of the Second Amendment, exposing racial undercurrents connecting the earliest settlers with contemporary gun proliferation, modern-day policing, and the influence of armed white nationalists."   

"Interview with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz on Tavis Smiley"
Nov 21, 2016

Interview with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz on Tavis Smiley