From Publishers Weekly
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.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
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.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.