The Founders’ Second Amendment

The Founders’ Second Amendment (2008)

Origins of the Right to Bear Arms

Do Americans have a constitutional right to bear arms? Or is this power vested solely in government? Recent years have seen a sea change in scholarship on the Second Amendment. Beginning in the 1960s, a revisionist view emerged that individuals had a “right” to bear arms only in militia service – a limited, collective right. But in the late 1980s a handful of scholars began producing an altogether persuasive analysis that changed thinking on the matter, so that today, even in canonical textbooks, bearing arms is acknowledged as an individual right. Stephen Halbrook’s The Founders’ Second Amendment is the first book-length account of the origins of the Second Amendment, based on the Founders’ own statements as found in newspapers, correspondence, debates, and resolutions. Mr. Halbrook investigates the period from 1768 to 1826, from the last years of British rule and the American Revolution through to the adoption of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and the passing of the Founders’ generation. His book offers the most comprehensive analysis of the arguments behind the drafting and adoption of the Second Amendment, and the intentions of the men who created it. With the question of the right to bear arms scheduled to come before the Supreme Court in the spring of 2008, The Founders’ Second Amendment could scarcely be more timely.