Abstract and Keywords
This chapter examines what the U.S. Constitution says about the right to bear arms. It begins with an overview of the changing meaning of the right to bear arms in American history, along with the English origins of the right to bear arms. It then considers the origins of the Second Amendment before turning to a discussion of the right to bear arms during the antebellum period, with emphasis on the emergence of the first gun laws aimed expressly at the problem of gun violence and the first cases focused on evaluating such laws in constitutional terms. It also explores the emergence of a federal Second Amendment jurisprudence during the Civil War and Reconstruction and the debate over gun rights versus gun control, and concludes by citing how the dynamics of that debate was influenced by the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.
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