The Second Amendment by Michael WaldmanA Biography
By the president of the prestigious Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, the life story of the most controversial, volatile, misunderstood provision of the Bill of Rights.
At a time of renewed debate over guns in America, what does the Second Amendment mean? This book looks at history to provide some surprising, illuminating answers.
The Amendment was written to calm public fear that the new national government would crush the state militias made up of all (white) adult men—who were required to own a gun to serve. Waldman recounts the raucous public debate that has surrounded the amendment from its inception to the present. As the country spread to the Western frontier, violence spread too. But through it all, gun control was abundant. In the 20th century, with Prohibition and gangsterism, the first federal control laws were passed. In all four separate times the Supreme Court ruled against a constitutional right to own a gun.
The present debate picked up in the 1970s—part of a backlash to the liberal 1960s and a resurgence of libertarianism. A newly radicalized NRA entered the campaign to oppose gun control and elevate the status of an obscure constitutional provision. In 2008, in a case that reached the Court after a focused drive by conservative lawyers, the US Supreme Court ruled for the first time that the Constitution protects an individual right to gun ownership. Famous for his theory of “originalism,” Justice Antonin Scalia twisted it in this instance to base his argument on contemporary conditions.
In The Second Amendment: A Biography, Michael Waldman shows that our view of the amendment is set, at each stage, not by a pristine constitutional text, but by the push and pull, the rough and tumble of political advocacy and public agitation.
Examining the History of the Second Amendment (June 4, 2014)
Right to Bear Arms
As the U. It does, however, stand alone in the manner it seeks to maintain a temporal connection with these iconic national figures through the law and the interpretation of that law. This fact is explicated in this article through an examination of the case of the District of Columbia v Heller This article seeks to account for two key nationalistic phenomena in the United States relating to constitutional law and the U. Firstly, the profound institutional reverence for the national heroes that first begat the nation. And, secondly, a precise hermeneutical deference to those Founding Fathers - in law - that is largely unmatched in the developed world. The Second Amendment and the enmity that it arouses has seen it endure only limited testing in the Supreme Court.
Alaina Bigelow , Staff Writer March 14, When James Madison wrote the Second Amendment of the Constitution he wrote it with the intention of people protecting themselves from the government by having the right to bear arms to form a militia. In the wake of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Fla. Students are pushing for reforms against the selling and owning of automatic weapons and enforcing stricter background checks for people looking to own guns. For those unfamiliar with what a militia is, it is an army made up of civilians in the case of an emergency.
In District of Columbia v. Heller , the Supreme Court affirmed for the first time that the right belongs to individuals, for self-defense in the home,     while also including, as dicta , that the right is not unlimited and does not preclude the existence of certain long-standing prohibitions such as those forbidding "the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill" or restrictions on "the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons. The Second Amendment was based partially on the right to keep and bear arms in English common law and was influenced by the English Bill of Rights of Sir William Blackstone described this right as an auxiliary right, supporting the natural rights of self-defense and resistance to oppression, and the civic duty to act in concert in defense of the state. Thus all rights enumerated in a Constitution are thus auxiliary in the eyes of Sir William Blackstone because all rights are only as good as the extent they are exercised in fact.
The El Paso Shooting and the Virality of Evil
The Second Amendment provides U. Ratified in December , the amendment says:. A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. James Madison originally proposed the Second Amendment shortly after the Constitution was officially ratified as a way to provide more power to state militias, which today are considered the National Guard. It was deemed a compromise between Federalists — those who supported the Constitution as it was ratified — and the anti-Federalists — those who supported states having more power. Having just used guns and other arms to ward off the English, the amendment was originally created to give citizens the opportunity to fight back against a tyrannical federal government.
In spite of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton last weekend, the future of federal gun control looks grim. Yet the lesson of the gun-rights fight is that no victory, or defeat, is permanent. Notwithstanding the most recent spate of mass shootings , over the past weekend, the prospects for gun-control legislation in Congress appear remote. The reason is no mystery. The National Rifle Association and its allies in the gun lobby maintain a firm grip on the Republican Party, including President Trump , and thus on veto power over the passage, or even the consideration, of measures to curb gun violence. But the power of the N.