Monday, January 14, 2013

The Founders’ Second Amendment

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 view emerged that individuals had a “right” to bear arms only in militia service—a limited, "collective" right. But in the late 1980s Dr. Stephen Halbrook and a handful of other 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. Dr. 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 recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in District of Columbia vs. Heller upholding the Second Amendment as protecting an individual right to bear arms, The Founders’ Second Amendment could scarcely be more timely as the authoritative book on the subject.  


  1. The truth is, you only have those rights that you can exercise. You have free speech as long as nobody can shut you up. You have the right to bear arms as long as nobody can take them away.In most of the world, might makes right(s). We had a good run with the whole liberty thing, but I think we are headed to the global mean. Survival of the strongest.