JULY 23, 2020

The Founders’ Second Amendment Updated

New Foreword for Treatise on the Origins of Our Right to Bear Arms

Oakland, CA—The Independent Institute has reissued the 2010 pathbreaking book The Founders' Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms by Senior Fellow Stephen P. Halbrook. The new edition is updated with a foreword by Nelson Lund (Patrick Henry Professor of Constitutional Law at George Mason University).

The Founders of the American republic sought to guarantee “the right of the people to keep and bear arms” as a fundamental liberty. What experiences led the Founders to adopt it, and what did it mean to them? Halbrook has written the definitive account of the origins of the Second Amendment, based on the Founders’ own statements as found in newspapers, correspondence, debates, and resolutions.

Investigating the period from 1768 to 1826, The Founders’ Second Amendment 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. Readers can fully comprehend the Founders’ understanding of what is necessary to guarantee, as the Amendment itself states, “the security of a free State.”

“The ability to defend one’s self, family, and community from the violence of criminality, tyranny, and invasion is a basic human right and a fundamental civil right. It’s one we should be glad the Founders had sense to protect in framing the Constitution,” said Halbrook. “The history of this right should be understood as well as celebrated by all who enjoy their freedoms.”

One of the world’s foremost experts on the Second Amendment, legal scholar Stephen P. Halbrook has successfully argued three cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. The Founders’ Second Amendment is cited in the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case McDonald vs City of Chicago in 2010. In the U.S. Supreme Court case District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) he successfully represented a majority of members of Congress with an amicus curiae brief against a handgun ban.

Halbrook is the author of several books on the history of the Second Amendment, as well as two recent books on the history of gun control leading up to and including World War II in Europe, Gun Control in the Third Reich, and Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France.

CREDENTIALS: Stephen P. Halbrook, Ph.D., has taught legal and political philosophy at George Mason University, Howard University, and Tuskegee University, and he received his J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center and Ph.D. in social philosophy from Florida State University. He is a Second Amendment legal scholar and attorney practicing in Virginia.


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The Independent Institute is a non-profit research and educational organization that promotes the power of independent thinking to boldly advance peaceful, prosperous, and free societies grounded in a commitment to human worth and dignity. For more information, visit Independent.org.

Contact Robert Ade, RAde@independent.org or 510-635-3690