Cover image for The Second Amendment in law and history : historians and constitutional scholars on the right to bear arms
The Second Amendment in law and history : historians and constitutional scholars on the right to bear arms
Bogus, Carl T.
Publication Information:
New York : New Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
vi, 358 pages ; 25 cm
The history and politics of Second Amendment scholarship: a primer / Carl T. Bogus -- Lost and found: researching the Second Amendment / Robert J. Spitzer -- The Second Amendment in action / Michael A. Bellesiles -- The Second Amendment: the highest stage of originalism / Jack N. Rakove -- "A well regulated militia": the Second Amendment in historical perspective / Paul Finkelman -- Muting the Second Amendment: the disappearance of the constitutional militia / H. Richard Uviller and William G. Merkel -- Natural rights and the Second Amendment / Steven J. Heyman -- To hold and bear arms: the English perspective / Lois G. Schwoerer -- Disarmed by time: the Second Amendment and the failure of originalism / Daniel A. Farber -- What does the Second Amendment mean today? / Michael C. Dorf.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
KF3941 .S43 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
KF3941 .S43 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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With help from the National Rifle Association and the pro-gun lobby, the idea that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees an unrestricted right to gun ownership has achieved a firm footing in recent decades. Yet few issues of public policy are so misunderstood, so oversimplified--and so crucially important to the health and welfare of all Americans. The gun lobby and its proponents would have us believe that the constitutional issue is moot, and that the regulation of firearms is beyond the reach of legislation. But as the contributors to this important anthology demonstrate, both the historical and constitutional arguments are very much alive--and in fact weigh heavily in favor of those who would restrict gun ownership.

In the eight essays in The Second Amendment in Law and History , the nation's leading historical and constitutional scholars--including Jack Rakove (author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Original Meanings ), Michael Bellesiles (author of Arming America ), Michael Dorf, Daniel Farber, and Paul Finkelman--marshal a broad range of historical and legal arguments revealing current gun policy to be radically out of step with deep historical and constitutional trends.

Author Notes

Carl T. Bogus is a professor of law at the Roger Williams College of Law in Rhode Island. He is the author of numerous law review articles on the Second Amendment and guns

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

There are two opposing theories about what the Second Amendment was designed to protect. Over a century of federal court rulings have established that it guarantees the right to bear arms within an established (i.e., formal and public) militia. The first law review article asserting an individual's right to own firearms for self-defense (or sport) did not appear until 1960, and yet the balance has swung in the individualist direction, with Republicans, gun lobbyists and even high-profile liberals endorsing that view. This lucid 10-essay collection by historians and legal scholars soberly takes on the entire revisionist anti-gun control project. Setting the stage, Bogus and Robert Spitzer analyze its history of logic and legal scholarship. (Spitzer focuses on how student-run, non-peer-reviewed law journals are vulnerable to producing bodies of error-filled work.) Pulitzer winner Jack Rakove (Original Meanings) and Paul Finkelman argue that the amendment's original intent was to mediate state and federal power over militias, while Michael Bellesiles (Arming America) explores late 18th-century gun control. Steven Heyman explains how the natural law tradition supports a collective rather than an inalienable individual right. The most powerful essays take dead aim at the practice of "law office history," whereby quotes and passages favorable to the individual rights side are excerpted without regard to a document's larger context. This outstanding discussion will appeal mainly to those most passionately committed to the issue of gun ownership, but it will inform discussions in the media on a heated subject. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The articles in this collection support an interpretation of the Second Amendment as a collective rather than an individual right the right of the states to maintain an armed militia. The authors draw on documents from the time of the amendment's ratification, relevant historical events in Britain and the United States, and legal analysis. Authors discuss state/colonial gun control already in place in the 18th century, the contrast between the militia then and today's National Guard, and what the authors believe are the fallacies of the argument that the amendment protects an individual right to own firearms. The contributors, including well-known scholars, are all academics, mostly in law but also in political science and history. This is a clear, thorough, well-documented look at the historical and legal record. There are hundreds of books available on the right to bear arms, but few scholarly books on the history of the Second Amendment. Highly recommended for academic and larger public libraries. Mary Jane Brustman, SUNY at Albany Libs. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

As a professor of law at the Roger Williams College of Law and author of numerous law review articles on guns and the Second Amendment, Bogus is well qualified to edit this reader on the Second Amendment and its history. The volume is based on a symposium held at the Chicago-Kent College of Law in the spring of 2000. It contains ten well-researched and well-written essays on topics such as the history and politics of the Second Amendment, natural rights and the Second Amendment, and what the Founding Fathers meant by the phrase "A Well Regulated militia." The book may be compared with The Right to Bear Arms: Rights and Liberties under the Law, by Robert J. Spitzer (CH, May'02), and A Necessary Evil, by Garry Wills (1999). The contributors present their theses in a scholarly rather than polemic style. The volume is well edited and contains excellent endnotes. The index is comprehensive and well composed. Recommended for upper-division undergraduates, researchers, and faculty. R. A. Carp University of Houston

Table of Contents

Carl T. BogusRobert J. SpitzerMichael A. BellesilesJack N. RakovePaul FinkelmanH. Richard Uviller and William G. MerkelSteven J. HeymanLois G. SchwoererDaniel A. FarberMichael C. Dorf
1. The History and Politics of Second Amendment Scholarship: A Primerp. 1
2. Lost and Found: Researching the Second Amendmentp. 16
3. The Second Amendment in Actionp. 48
4. The Second Amendment: The Highest Stage of Originalismp. 74
5. "A Well Regulated Militia": The Second Amendment in Historical Perspectivep. 117
6. Muting the Second Amendment: The Disappearance of the Constitutional Militiap. 148
7. Natural Rights and the Second Amendmentp. 179
8. To Hold and Bear Arms: The English Perspectivep. 207
9. Disarmed by Time: The Second Amendment and the Failure of Originalismp. 228
10. What Does the Second Amendment Mean Today?p. 247
Notesp. 283
Indexp. 349