The Second Amendment and the Ideology of Self-Protection

Constitutional Commentary, 1992

13 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2017

Date Written: March 25, 1992


This article explores the numerous ways in which the concept of self-protection related to the Second Amendment in the minds of its authors, a concept that was not only stronger but also more inclusive than the concept is described by many modern thinkers. Indeed, the second amendment emerged from a view that general possession of arms is a social good, as well as an indispensable adjunct to the individual right to self defense. The Founders would not have necessarily repudiated their belief in the right of self-defense – and of the individuals to be armed for self-defense – if they had anticipated the replacement of the militia by modern police agencies because such a notion would never have occurred to them. There were no police in eighteenth-century America and England.

Keywords: gun control, originalism, Founders, self-defense, guns, rights, crime

JEL Classification: K14

Suggested Citation

Kates, Don B., The Second Amendment and the Ideology of Self-Protection (March 25, 1992). Constitutional Commentary, 1992, Available at SSRN:

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