Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sources on Original Second Amendment Meaning, History, Purpose, and Intent

Updated January 27, 2013
Based on recent Google searches, there seems to be a great interest in original information on the Second Amendment. Such searches, depending on the exact terms, lead to between 2 and 64 million results. That many links makes for a daunting task in locating reliable results actually containing original period information. For that reason, this post links to results of my Founding Era based research carried out over the last four decades. See links to my online articles and other posts here, here, and here.

I have also produced two printed books - a recent history, The Founders' View of the Right to Bear Arms: A Definitive History of the Second Amendment, and an earlier massive period document collection, The Origin of the Second Amendment: A Documentary History of the Bill of Rights in Commentaries on Liberty, Free Government, and an Armed Populace, 1787-1792. My online articles and printed history rely on the relevant period sources reprinted in The Origin of the Second Amendment for documentation.

The previous three posts in the Second Amendment History Online series have presented Federalist arms mantras, which are statements by supporters for ratification of the U.S. Constitution that tyranny was not possible under it because the people were armed. There were numerous such arms mantras, and there were also numerous Antifederalist arms mantras, which maintained that an armed populace was not guaranteed under the Constitution and, as a result, its adoption would lead to tyranny. The next few posts will present some of the Antifederalist versions.

All Ratification Era arms mantras and other relevant sources placing the Second Amendment in its proper period context of the struggle to add the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution are reprinted in The Origin of the Second Amendment. It is the only complete collection of its kind relating to the Second Amendment, and that is the reason it has been extensively cited backing up the individual rights rulings in the U.S. v Emerson (2001), Parker v District of Columbia (2007), and District of Columbia v Heller (2008) decisions. It consists of relevant documents and excerpts from newspapers, letters, convention speeches, bill of rights proposals, ratifications of the Constitution, notes, and other period sources. Each document presents a literal transcript of the original, provides a citation to the source, and is presented without editorial commentary. Origin also contains an introduction intended for those entirely unfamiliar with period history.

In addition to all period arms mantras, The Origin of the Second Amendment includes all relevant sources covering other related subjects such as Bill of Rights demands, discussion, and development, militia related discussions, and the limited nature of the proposed Federal Government. There are several appendices, one containing the eight state declarations of rights extant when the Second Amendment was written. These are included because they were constantly mentioned as the source for the Federal Bill of Rights during the Ratification Era.

The Founders' View of the Right to Bear Arms is my history of American Second Amendment development. It traces every term of each clause from its author back to the earliest authors and usage in American state bills of rights. It then traces that usage back to the events that brought about such usage. Even earlier Colonial Period usage of the terms found in the Second Amendment are presented so a full understanding of American usage of the amendment's language is explained and documented. The Founders' View presents historical evidence never before examined regarding the Second Amendment predecessor context as leading Mason Triads parts.

While there are many excellent articles and books on the Second Amendment that rely on or present period sources, there is only one complete Ratification Era source, The Origin of the Second Amendment, and only one history based directly on that collection by its editor, The Founders' View ofthe Right to Bear Arms.

Hopefully, this information is what readers are searching for. Please pass links to it along to those who are in need of it.

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