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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Gun Rights and the Threat to Freedom and Democracy

Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

end of liberal zionism

Firmin DeBrabander
Maryland Institute College of Art

Date: Thursday, October 22, 2015
Time: 12-1:15 PM
Location: Boisi Center, 24 Quincy Road

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Abstract: Possibly the most emotionally charged debate taking place in the United States today centers on the Second Amendment to the Constitution: the rights of citizens to bear arms. Despite the horror of the Sandy Hook school massacre in Connecticut, the gun rights movement, headed by the National Rifle Association, appears as strong as ever in its fight against gun control laws. The core argument of Second Amendment advocates is that the proliferation of firearms is essential to maintaining freedom in America, providing private citizens with a defense against possible government tyranny, and thus safeguarding all our other rights. But is this argument valid? Do guns indeed make us free? 

In this talk, the first philosophical examination of every aspect of the contentious and uniquely American debate over guns, Firmin DeBrabander critiques the claims offered in favor of unchecked gun ownership. By exposing the contradictions and misinterpretations inherent in the case presented by gun rights supporters, this provocative talk seeks to demonstrate that an armed society is not a free society but one that actively hinders democratic participation.


Firmin DeBrabander studied Philosophy at Boston College and the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, and received his Ph.D. in the field from Emory University in 2002. He has taught at MICA since 2005, and served as chair of the Humanistic Studies department from 2009 until 2012. His specialties include the History of Western Philosophy, Ethics, Political Theory, and Environmental Ethics. He also teaches courses on Media Ethics, Economic Theory, Eastern Philosophy, Philosophy of Science, and Medical Ethics. In 2007, he published a book entitled Spinoza and the Stoics (Continuum). He has published academic articles in journals such as History of Philosophy Quarterly, International Philosophy Quarterly, and in a volume issued by Cambridge University Press entitled Stoicism: Traditions and Transformations. More recently, he has written social and political editorials for the Baltimore SunCounterpunch and Common Dreams. He has organized several symposia in honor of Constitution Day at the college, including such speakers as John Waters, Helen Thomas, Angela Davis, Ralph Nader, Jesse Jackson, Amy Goodman, Andrew Sullivan, and Cornel West.

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In the News

In response to the recent shootings of two Virginia based TV journalists and of nine people in the Charleston Baptist Church there have been renewed calls for stricter gun regulations. Despite these tradgedies the NRA remains defiant that it is not gun laws, but the enforcement of existing gun laws that is the issue. Upcoming at the Boisi Center, Firmin DeBrabander will explain how the prevalence of guns in our society actually hinders the freedoms most Americans claim to cherish.