'A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall t be infringed'. For the past half century, legal historians, analysts, judges and commentators have disagreed as to the original scope and intent of these words, making up the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Individual right theorists interpret it as protecting the personal privilege to own and carry firearms, while collective right theorists interpret it as only protecting the privilege of a collective society to bear arms in relation to militia service. This book examines the contentions of both groups and concludes that the amendment is meant only to protect the right of an individual to 'keep and bear arms' for the purpose of defending the country in a militia force against standing foreign or domestic armies. To interpret the amendment in any other way, the author argues, is to take its wording out of context and overextend a limited right that predated the Constitution and was essential to the founding of the nation. In crafting his argument, the author examines the Second Amendment in exacting detail, looking at its earliest drafts and its placement within the Bill of Rights, the state constitutional ratifying conventions, and judicial interpretations of the amendment through the landmark decision in 2008's District of Columbia v. Heller. The two final chapters examine the relationship between the Second Amendment and individual states, focusing specifically on the state of Ohio's 'right to bear arms' provisions provided in its 1802 constitution.
Patrick J. Charles is the recipient of the 2008 Judge John R. Brown Excellent in Writing award for his research on the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms in State Constitutions. A former Marine sergeant with the Marine Security Guard Battalion, he has also worked for the Department of State and currently resides in Arlington, Virginia.