20 hours, 1 minute ago
Nelson Lund has a very interesting article at Heritage concerning the second amendment. It’s a very lengthy article, and here is one sample.
With respect to arms, however, there was a special problem. The federal government was given almost plenary authority to create a standing army (consisting of full-time paid troops) and to regulate and commandeer the state-based militias (which comprised most able-bodied men). Anti-Federalists strongly objected to this massive transfer of power from the state governments, which threatened to deprive the people of their principal defense against federal usurpation. Federalists responded that fears of federal oppression were overblown, in part because the American people were already armed and would be almost impossible to subdue through military force.
Implicit in the debate between Federalists and Anti-Federalists were two shared assumptions: All agreed that the proposed Constitution would give the new federal government almost total legal authority over the army and militia, and nobody argued that the federal government should have any authority to disarm the citizenry. Federalists and Anti-Federalists disagreed only about whether the existing armed populace could adequately deter federal oppression.
The Second Amendment conceded nothing to the Anti-Federalist desire to sharply curtail the military power of the federal government, which would have required substantial changes in the original Constitution. Instead, it merely aimed to prevent the new government from disarming American citizens through its power to regulate the militia. Congress might have done so, for example, by ordering that all weapons be stored in federal armories until they were issued for use in performing military or militia duties.
Unlike many people in our time, the Founding generation would not have been puzzled by the text of the Second Amendment. It protects a “right of the people”: i.e., a right of the individuals who are the people. It was not meant to protect a right of state governments to control their militias; that right had already been relinquished to the federal government. A “well regulated Militia” is, among other things, one that is not inappropriately regulated. A federal regulation disarming American citizens would have been considered every bit as inappropriate as one abridging the freedom of speech or prohibiting the free exercise of religion. The Second Amendment forbids the inappropriate regulation of weapons, just as the First Amendment forbids inappropriate restrictions on speech and religion.
The only place where I have real disagreement with Lund is his ensconcing the ideological basis for the American war of independence in John Locke. I’ve made my position clear on that, i.e., it has more basis in the continental Calvinist view of covenant than it does John Locke. This is especially true of the constitution, and more true of the constitution than it is of the Declaration of Independence.
I’ve also discussed some of these things in Christians, The Second Amendment And The Duty Of Self Defense, where I rehearsed the historical and cultural context of firearms in colonial America at the time of the war of independence.
That having been said, I commend this paper to you. Lund has done some meaningful research that will be helpful in how you think about these issues.