In his Second Inaugural Address, President Obama reaffirmed his intent to seek gun safety laws in the wake of the Newtown massacre, but the Right insists the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to own assault rifles. What is the real history of the “right to bear arms,” asks Beverly Bandler.
By Beverly Bandler
“A majority of Americans tell pollsters that they believe the Second Amendment protects private ownership of guns,” wrote Garry Wills, historian and author of James Madison, in 1995.
What is the basis for this belief and why was Wills focusing on this issue in 1995? Does the sparse language of the Second Amendment actually guarantee an individual right to bear arms? Protect private gun ownership and the right to carry firearms without restriction?
What does “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” mean in the context of the entire Second Amendment language? In the context of the Constitution? In the context of the historical record? What was the feeling among the constitutional delegates about standing armies? Militias? Indeed, what were the politics of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights?