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.
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.
On Sunday, nine people were fatally shot in Dayton, Ohio. First, there's no way to know for sure. And second, their intentions may have nothing to do with present-day reality. It doesn't matter, some would say, whether the Founding Fathers weren't envisioning an AK or a nuclear device. In the end, there are only the words on the page — and what can legitimately be construed from them. In fact, very few countries have anything like a Second Amendment. It's one example of so-called American exceptionalism that really is — for good or ill — exceptional.
Supreme Court interpretations
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.