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

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Overview

Stephen P. Halbrook's The Founders' Second Amendment is the first book-length account of the origins of the Second Amendment, based on the Founders' own statements as found in newspapers, correspondence, debates, and resolutions. Mr. Halbrook investigates the period from 1768 to 1826, from the last years of British rule and the American Revolution through to the adoption of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and the passing of the Founders' generation. His book offers the most comprehensive analysis of the ...

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Overview

Stephen P. Halbrook's The Founders' Second Amendment is the first book-length account of the origins of the Second Amendment, based on the Founders' own statements as found in newspapers, correspondence, debates, and resolutions. Mr. Halbrook investigates the period from 1768 to 1826, from the last years of British rule and the American Revolution through to the adoption of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and the passing of the Founders' generation. His book offers the most comprehensive analysis of the arguments behind the drafting and adoption of the Second Amendment, and the intentions of the men who created it. With the question of the right to bear arms scheduled to come before the Supreme Court in the spring of 2008, The Founders' Second Amendment could scarcely be more timely.

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Editorial Reviews

American Historical Review
Stephen P. Halbrook's new book represents the most careful and well-thought-out study yet in support of the politically ascendant claim that the Second Amendment, as originally intended and understood, protects a right to own guns for purposes other than service in the lawful militia.
— William G. Merkel
Choice
[Halbrook] covers the Second Amendment's historical underpinnings from 1768–1826, and so offers readers a rich interpretive framework from which to grasp the U.S. Supreme Court's (conservative) decision in June 2008 . . . affirming the constitutional right of individuals to keep guns at home.
Publishers Weekly

The U.S. Supreme Court's recent hearing of arguments in District of Columbiav. 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)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
CHOICE
[Halbrook] covers the Second Amendment's historical underpinnings from 1768-1826, and so offers readers a rich interpretive framework from which to grasp the U.S. Supreme Court's (conservative) decision in June 2008 . . . affirming the constitutional right of individuals to keep guns at home.
Midwest Book Review
The depth and detail added to source material quotes makes this a fine pick for both college and high school collections strong in American history and politics.
New American
The book is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to form a knowledgeable opinion on the meaning, application and reason behind the Second Amendment.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Stephen B. Halbrook is Research Fellow at The Independent Institute and received his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and a Ph.D. in social philosophy from Florida State University. His other books include That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right; Freedmen, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Right to Bear Arms; Firearms Law Deskbook; and A Right to Bear Arms.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Disarming the Colonists

1 "The Inhabitants to Be Disarmed" 9

2 From the Tea Party to the Powder Alarm 29

3 The Arms Embargo and Search and Seizure at the Neck 58

4 A Shot Heard 'Round the World and "a Cruel Act of Perfidy" 75

Of Revolution and Rights

5 "Times That Try Men's Souls" 111

6 "That the People Have a Right" 126

7 "A Musket to Defend These Rights" 148

The Constitution and Compromise

8 A Constitution with No Bill of Rights? 171

9 The "Dissent of the Minority" 191

10 Virginia Tips the Scales 216

11 "A Majority That Is Irresistible" 234

"To Keep and Bear Their Private Arms"

12 Mr. Madison's Amendments 251

13 The Bill of Rights in the States 279

14 The Great Militia Debate 299

15 Old Founders Never Die, They Just Fade Away 310

Conclusion

16 What Does the Second Amendment Say? 323

Notes 339

Index 393

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2008

    Great read

    Well done intellectually honest presentation for those who take our Constitution seriously.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 5, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    amazingly researched and well thought out

    amazingly researched and well thought out

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted December 28, 2008

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