The Founders’ Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms

Stephen P. Halbrook, Author . Ivan R. Dee $28.95 (425p) ISBN 978-1-56663-792-3

The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent hearing of arguments in District of Columbia v. Heller —which may overturn the capital’s ban on handguns—signals a general re-evaluation of the Second Amendment. The trend is toward an unlimited individual right rather than a restricted, collective one applying only to government militias. Halbrook, a research fellow at the Independent Institute in California, is firmly of the former school and investigates the nature of the ideas underlying the Second Amendment during the Revolutionary generation (between 1768 and 1826). How did the founders regard the issue of gun control? What prompted them to define the right to bear arms as fundamental, second only to freedom of speech? Basing his research on contemporary newspapers, political resolutions and private correspondence, Halbrook delves deeply into the importance of firearms during the Revolution, finding that attempts by search-and-seizure to control the flow of guns was regarded as the typical tyrannical behavior of a standing army. Liberty hinged on free ownership. While readers might disagree with some of Halbrook’s historical interpretations, his book should be welcomed as a timely introduction to this most contentious of debates. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/21/2008
Release date: 06/01/2008
Open Ebook - 448 pages - 978-1-61578-014-3
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-1-56663-971-2
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