The Right to Bear Arms: A Constitutional Right of the People or a Privilege of the Ruling Class? (Hardcover)

The Right to Bear Arms: A Constitutional Right of the People or a Privilege of the Ruling Class? By Stephen  P. Halbrook, Renée Lettow Lerner (Foreword by) Cover Image

The Right to Bear Arms: A Constitutional Right of the People or a Privilege of the Ruling Class? (Hardcover)

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This is the first scholarly study of the history of the right to bear and carry arms outside of the home, a right held dear by Americans before, during, and after the Founding period; it rebuts attempts by anti-gun advocates to rewrite history and “cancel” the Founding generation’s lived experiences bearing firearms.

The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized the individual right to keep and bear arms, but courts in states that have extreme gun control restrictions apply tests that balance the right away. This book demonstrates that the right peaceably to carry firearms is a fundamental right recognized by the text of the Second Amendment and is part of our American history and tradition.

Halbrook’s scholarly work is an exhaustive historical treatment of the fundamental, individual right to carry firearms outside of the home. Halbrook traces this right from its origins in England through American colonial times, the American Revolution, the Constitution’s ratification debates, and then through the antebellum and post-bellum periods, including the history surrounding the enactment of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

This book is another important contribution by Halbrook to the scholarship concerning the text, history and tradition of the Second Amendment’s right to bear and carry arms.
Stephen P. Halbrook is a Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute (independent.org) and holds a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Florida State University. One of the nation’s leading legal scholars and historians on the Second Amendment, he has devoted fifty years to studying the right to keep and bear arms. He argued and won Printz v. United States and other cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, and he represented a majority of members of Congress as amici curiae in the seminal Second Amendment case of District of Columbia v. Heller. Dr. Halbrook’s works have been relied on by Justices Antonin Scalia in the Heller and Samuel Alito in the McDonald decisions, and by courts in numerous other cases on the right to bear arms. Among his other books are The Founders’ Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms; Securing Civil Rights: Freedmen, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Right to Bear Arms; That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right; Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and “Enemies of the State”; and Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France: Tyranny and Resistance.
Product Details ISBN: 9781637582848
ISBN-10: 1637582846
Publisher: Bombardier Books
Publication Date: November 30th, 2021
Pages: 368
Language: English
“Stephen Halbrook’s The Right to Bear Arms is particularly timely now, when critics allege tainted origins of so many American institutions. The right to own and carry guns, as Halbrook shows, grew from a long, honorable tradition in Anglo-American law of trusting the common man to defend himself. It was, as this book shows, the attempt to deny historic gun rights that grew out of racial animus in the Jim Crow South and anti-immigrant prejudice in Northern cities.”
— Jeremy A. Rabkin, Professor of Law, Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University; Member, Board of Directors, U.S. Institute of Peace

The Right to Bear Arms by Stephen Halbrook, is a comprehensive, incisive and timely history of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  The positioning of the Amendment, right after the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights, Halbrook suggests, signals just how important and indispensable James Madison and others considered the Amendment to be.  Yet, the real controversy today, is whether the framers intended the right to bear arms for self-defense to extend outside one’s home. And Renée Lettow Lerner notes in her engaging and informative foreword to Halbrook’s excellent treatise, gun purchases soared by 65% in 2020 as urban unrest and crime dramatically climbed. Indeed, the murder rate in 57 U.S. cities increased by an average of 37% in 2020, and when 85% of murders in a major city like Detroit are not solved, is it any wonder that citizens feel the need to purchase firearms for self-defense?”
— Phillip G. Henderson, Professor of Politics, Catholic University of America; author, "Managing the Presidency: The Eisenhower Legacy"; editor, "The Presidency Then and Now"

“The U.S. Supreme Court has granted certiorari to hear a major case on the right to bear arms, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Corlett. By happy coincidence, the best book on the legal history of the right has just been published: Stephen P. Halbrook, The Right to Bear Arms: A Constitutional Right of the People or a Privilege of the Ruling Class? Halbrook’s book will be central to the Supreme Court case, just as Halbrook’s previous work was for the Supreme Court’s decisions in District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago—not only in direct citations, but also in the many original sources that Halbrook was the first to write about, and which the Court incorporated in its opinions. Indeed, Halbrook’s scholarship was a foundation of McDonald case, for he had demonstrated in irrefutable detail that Congress passed the Fourteenth Amendment for the explicit purpose of, inter alia, protecting the right to arms of former slaves to keep and bear arms for personal and family defense. . . . Any serious person involved in the legal debate over the right to bear arms will have to address the arguments in Halbrook's latest book.”
— The Volokh Conspiracy Legal Blog

“The U.S. Supreme Court has granted certiorari to hear a major case on the right to bear arms, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Corlett. By happy coincidence, the best book on the legal history of the right has just been published: Stephen P. Halbrook, The Right to Bear Arms: A Constitutional Right of the People or a Privilege of the Ruling Class? Halbrook’s book will be central to the Supreme Court case, just as Halbrook’s previous work was for the Supreme Court’s decisions in District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago—not only in direct citations, but also in the many original sources that Halbrook was the first to write about, and which the Court incorporated in its opinions. Indeed, Halbrook’s scholarship was a foundation of McDonald case, for he had demonstrated in irrefutable detail that Congress passed the Fourteenth Amendment for the explicit purpose of, inter alia, protecting the right to arms of former slaves to keep and bear arms for personal and family defense. . . . Any serious person involved in the legal debate over the right to bear arms will have to address the arguments in Halbrook's latest book.”
— The Volokh Conspiracy Legal Blog

“Stephen Halbrook is a pioneer of Second Amendment scholarship and nobody does it better. Now, in his book The Right to Bear Arms, he systematically demolishes the latest historical claim that the ‘right to…bear arms’ did not extend to carrying guns outside the home. A timely and accessible read for scholars, for lawyers, for judges, and for all ‘the people’ who value their right to arms.”
— Randy E. Barnett, Patrick Hotung Professor of Constitutional Law, Georgetown University Law Center; Director, Georgetown Center for the Constitution; and author, "The Original Meaning of the 14th Amendment: Its Letter and Spirit"

“A disarmed population is much easier to subdue and hold in servitude than an armed one. Stephen P. Halbrook’s The Right to Bear Arms: A Constitutional Right of the People or a Privilege of the Ruling Class? unambiguously confirms this fundamental insight by addressing assaults against the Second Amendment. Thankfully, SCOTUS upheld Second Amendment rights in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010). Should SCOTUS backtrack on those decisions, Halbrook provides two invaluable services. First, making clear that the backtracking is constitutionally illegitimate. And second, that the tree of liberty will die without nourishment from the natural right to keep and bear arms.
— Marshall DeRosa, Professor of Political Science, Florida Atlantic University

“Stephen Halbrook’s book, The Right to Bear Arms, should not have been needed.  But those seeking to confine the Second Amendment right to carry a gun to the home persist in obfuscating its text, history and landmark Supreme Court opinions.  Happily, the Supreme Court is finally poised to rule, once again on the issue.  Halbrook’s coverage from early English law through modern cases provides a comprehensive guide for Courts and the perplexed.  Those who believe the Second Amendment means what it says owe him our sincere thanks.”
— Joyce Lee Malcolm, Patrick Henry Professor Emerita of Constitutional Law and the Second Amendment, George Mason University; author, "To Keep and Bear Arms: The Origins of an Anglo-American Right" and "Guns and Violence: The English Experience"

“In The Right to Bear Arms, Halbrook has provided a comprehensive, up-to-date review of the New York case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, while elaborating on the historical and principled meaning of the Second Amendment. This book could not appear at a more auspicious moment. The reality is that the decision in the prior Heller and similar cases that the Second Amendment is a personal right and not a privilege afforded by governmental units is perhaps in greater danger now than it was before Heller. The evident temptations to rescind from the broadest implications of Heller have courts and judges seeking ways to water down that fundamental principle, and there is more than a little reason to fear some of that tendency emerging at the Supreme Court in the guise identifying historical developments as qualifying the plain language of the Second Amendment. Halbrook greatly diminishes the prospect of a satisfactory completion of that misguided task.”
— William B. Allen, Jr., Emeritus Dean and Professor of Political Philosophy, James Madison College, Michigan State University; former Chairman, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

“Stephen Halbrook’s The Right to Bear Arms is a superb examination of a topic at the very core of Second Amendment controversies—the actual carrying of arms and the central role of self-defense in the American republic. His mastery of the legal and constitutional literature in this penetrating study is formidable and conclusive, presented in a historical narrative rich in detail. It will be crucial reading for the legal community actively involved in the fight for the Second Amendment as well as to all who are students of liberty. In his long and highly productive engagement with the right to bear arms, this great scholar has explored his subject from many angles in many books. This one is a powerhouse.”
— T. Hunt Tooley, Professor of History, Austin College; his books include "The Great War: Western Front and Home Front", "National Identity and Weimar Germany" and "Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe"

“The U.S. Supreme Court will take up a high-stakes Second Amendment case that experts say has the potential to expand gun rights and radically increase the number of firearms on the streets of major cities already plagued by shootings. The nation’s highest court said Monday that it will hear an appeal on whether New York’s permit requirements for carrying guns in public is constitutional, and ultimately whether the Second Amendment protects Americans’ right to carry guns outside of their homes. . . . ‘This is the most significant Second Amendment issue that’s been before the Court,’ says Stephen Halbrook, . . . author of The Right to Bear Arms: A Constitutional Right of the People or a Privilege of the Ruling Class?
— Time Magazine

“In the extraordinary and timely book, The Right to Bear Arms, Stephen Halbrook—long a leading scholar on the origin and importance of the Constitution’s Second Amendment—explains why the right to bear arms outside the home is not only fundamental to the individual’s right to self-defense, but is an indispensable foundation for popular sovereignty itself. For too long, ‘liberals’ and ‘progressives’ have denigrated the Second Amendment and fooled themselves into believing that if we could only regulate and ban guns, criminal activity could be curtailed. As we ought to have learned by now, this approach was naïve, dangerous, and counterproductive. Once again, and as the Supreme Court is poised to revisit interpretation of this most important Amendment, Halbrook’s wisdom is rare and invaluable.”
— Stephen B. Presser, Raoul Berger Professor of Law Emeritus, Pritzker School of Law, Northwestern University; author, "Law and Jurisprudence in American History"

“Everyone, especially state legislators, should read The Right to Bear Arms, the carefully documented, exhaustive study of the right to bear and carry arms outside the home as developed in the American legal tradition.”
— Donald W. Livingston, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Emory University; former Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh

“Written by Stephen Halbrook, one of America’s most knowledgeable and experienced legal experts on gun control and the Second Amendment, The Right to Bear Arms provides a comprehensive, thoroughly documented, and highly readable historical analysis of one of the most controversial and important public-policy issues facing the nation today. It should be mandatory reading for elected officials and is highly recommended for constitutional scholars, students, and citizens who wish to understand these issues.”
— Robert F. Turner, Retired Professor of International Law and National Security Law and Co-founder, Retired Associate Director and Distinguished Fellow, Center for National Security Law, University of Virginia; First President, U.S. Institute of Peace; Chairman, Jefferson-Hemings Scholars Commission

“The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review a case involving the right to bear arms outside one’s home, and Stephen Halbrook’s new book, The Right to Bear Arms, will give the Justices most of the historical evidence they need to decide the case correctly.”
— Nelson Lund, University Professor, Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University

“With his comprehensive book, The Right to Bear Arms, Stephen Halbrook gives us an important history of a right often disparaged by elites but frequently cherished by ordinary citizens—the right to bear arms for self-defense. This timely book is must reading for those concerned with the civil right of self-preservation.”
— Robert J. Cottrol, Harold Paul Green Research Professor of Law and Professor of History and Sociology, George Washington University; author, "The Long, Lingering Shadow: Slavery, Race, and Law in the American Hemisphere"

In The Right to Bear Arms: A Constitutional Right of the People or a Privilege of the Ruling Class?, Second and Fourteenth Amendment scholar Stephen P. Halbrook shows that in this part of the world, from day one until well after the Second Amendment’s ratification, carrying handguns and other arms for protection, concealed or openly, away from home (without a license) was lawful, thus within the scope of the right to arms as understood by the Framers of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.”
— The Federalist