The Second Amendment and the Inalienable Right to Self-Defense
First Principles, No. 16, April 2014
6 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2014
Date Written: April 17, 2014
This paper provides a very concise introduction to the history of the Second Amendment and the case law as it stands today.
Modern debates about the meaning of the Second Amendment have focused on whether it protects a private right of individuals to keep and bear arms or a right that can be exercised only through militia organizations like the National Guard. This question, however, was apparently never even raised until long after the Bill of Rights was adopted. Early discussions took the basic meaning of the amendment for granted and focused instead on whether it added anything significant to the original Constitution. The debate later shifted because of changes in the Constitution and in constitutional law and because legislatures began to regulate firearms in ways undreamed of in our early history.
Keywords: natural right, private, individual, collective, original meaning, militia, standing army, regulation, state, federal, Federalists, Anti-Federalists, District of Columbia v. Heller, McDonald v. City of Chicago, Ezell, United States v. Marzzarella
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