The U.S. Supreme Court's recent hearing of arguments in District of Columbia
—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)
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Stephen Halbrook's The Founders' Second Amendment
is first-rate work, utterly convincing. This is a solid and important work. (Forrest McDonald )
I enthusiastically recommend Stephen Halbrook's book, The Founder's Second Amendment
. This is an original and valuable approach, focusing on the place of individual ownership of firearms during the time of the American Revolution and the drafting and ratification of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. It will add appreciably to the scholarship on the origins and meaning of the Second Amendment. (Joyce L. Malcolm )The Founder's Second Amendment
is an impressive achievement. Halbrook shows conclusively to any honest mind, both in respect to historical evidence and analytical jurisprudence, that the Framers intended the Second Amendment not as the reserved right of a State government
to organize a militia, but of the people as individuals
to keep and to bear arms. In this meticulously researched and exhaustive study, Halbrook has produced what promises to be the standard work for years to come on the original intent of the Second Amendment. It will be an invaluable resource for scholars of the Constitution. (Donald W. Livingston )
Stephen Halbrook's The Founders' Second Amendment
is crisply written, rich with history, and sure to be valuable to anyone interested in understanding the original meaning of the Second Amendment's right to bear arms. (Glenn Harlan Reynolds )
Like much of Halbrook's other excellent work, The Founders' Second Amendment
is both well-written and full of fascinating details. It will serve as an important resource for professional scholars and interested laypersons. One especially useful aspect of Halbrook's work is that the author so consistently lets a huge variety of original sources speak for themselves. (Nelson Lund )Historian and philosopher Stephen Halbrook is the single most prolific researcher on the Second Amendment, having contributed literally dozens of scholarly articles on various aspects of the subject. The Founders' Second Amendment masterfully both extends and summarizes his (and others') research. It is the last word—the single most comprehensive work on the thinking of the Founding Fathers' era about the constitutional right of citizens to be armed.
(Don B. Kates )
The subject of The Founders' Second Amendment
is currently 'front-and-center' as a 'hot' and major controversy. Well researched and well presented, Halbrook's book has brought forward a substantial amount of new research, not redundant of what others have provided, and this book will find a solid place among leading works on the subject. (William W. Van Alstyne )
A timely introduction to this most contentious of debates. (Publishers Weekly
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. (New American
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. (Midwest Book Review
)[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.
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 American Historical Review