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    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.
      -- Second Amendment, United States Constitution
One of the great myths of the late 20th (and now early 21st) century is the one propagated by the gun lobby -- that the 2nd Amendment confers a broad and almost untouchable right to personal weapons. (See Debunking the NRA Myth.)

It should be noted that there is room for discussion, but it is in matters of degree, not in the extremes occupied by the Gun Lobby. As Prof. Laurence Tribe notes:

    [I]t's extremely misleading to frame the debate in terms of a clash between those who think the Second Amendment protects only the militia and the rights of the states, and those who think the Second Amendment protects individual rights to keep and bear arms and therefore makes pretty much all forms of gun control presumptively unconstitutional. /1/
The history of the "Gun Culture" in America is (at least claimed to be) a long one, dating back before the Revolution to exploration and settlement of the colonies. But the earliest colonists believed they had the rights according all Englishmen, so the origins of those rights must be traced back to England where, Joyce Malcolm insists, an obligation became a right. /2/
  • Introduction
  • Our British Roots
  • Small "r" republicans and small "l" libertarians -- Revolutionary America and the Bill of Rights
  • Antebellum America: Barron, Colt and the Contrarians
  • Reconstruction America and the Western Expansion
  • America in the 20th Century -- Death of the citizen's militia and the questions of incorporation
  • The Gun Lobby and the Second Amendment - responding to Samuel Colt redux
And our favorite section:
    Myths and Misquotes, debunking many of the misstatements that have made it into the "scholarly" literature and, from there, the advocate's lexicon.

Footnotes

  1. Lawrence Tribe, American Constitutional Law, Third Edition - Volume One, The Foundation Press, New York, NY, pg vi, 2000  BackTop
  2. Joyce Lee Malcolm, The Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms: The Common Law Tradition, 10 Hastings Const. L. Q. 285 (1983).  BackTop

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©Copyright, 2000, Mike Rosenberg
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