When it comes to the debate over the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, few, if any, have contributed more than constitutional scholar and attorney, Stephen Halbrook. His books and law review articles are “must reading” for all (including other scholars) who are interested in the origin of the right to arms and the Second Amendment.
Now, Halbrook has come to the defense of the right to arms once again. This time, he responds to arguments currently being pushed by Ohio State University (OSU) history professor, Saul Cornell.
Most of the academics who once believed that the Second Amendment protects something other than an individual right have changed their minds or gone silent, due to the overwhelming evidence presented by Halbrook, Joyce Lee Malcolm, David Hardy, Don Kates, Sanford Levinson, Robert Cottrol, William van Alstyne, Akhil Reed Amar, Nelson Lund, and many others over the last 20-odd years.
Not Cornell. He is trying to create a niche for himself as a conspicuous dissenter, heading up the Second Amendment Research Center (SARC) at OSU. While the SARC purports to be a “nonpartisan center promoting scholarship on issues concerning the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and firearms regulation,” it receives funding from the radically anti-gun Joyce Foundation.
Cornell is pushing the idea that the Second Amendment requires gun control and imposes a civic duty to possess arms while serving in a militia. And he says that those who believe that the amendment protects an individual right misinterpret the writings of Judge St. George Tucker, author of the first and foremost treatise on our Constitution and Bill of Rights.
To the contrary, Halbrook points out, Tucker considered the Second Amendment the “palladium of liberty” and self-defense “the first law of nature.” Tucker lamented that under the infamous British Game Laws, only well-to-do Englishmen were permitted to hunt, but “no others can keep a gun for their defense; so that the whole nation are completely disarmed, and left at the mercy of the government, under the pretext of preserving the breed of hares and partridges, for the exclusive use of the independent country gentlemen.”
By comparison, Tucker said, under the Second Amendment our Congress has “no power to regulate, or interfere with the domestic concerns, or police of any state,” “nor will the constitution permit any prohibition of arms to the people.”