Don’t Know Much About History
Thanks to Eugene for inviting me to blog about the historical arguments made by the State of New York and its supporting amici in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. Bruen presents the issue of whether states may limit the right to carry firearms in public for self-defense to those individuals who can convince licensing officials that they have some special need to do so. If states can limit the right to carry in this way, then it is not really a right but rather a privilege subject to government control and rationing.
In my recent book, The Right to Bear Arms: A Constitutional Right of the People or a Privilege of the Ruling Class?, I extensively survey the historical evidence and conclude that the founding generation understood the right to bear arms to be a genuine right not subject to the types of limitations New York and other “may issue” states place upon it. Nothing that New York and its amici have said undermines that conclusion. Indeed, my book anticipates and addresses most if not all of the arguments made and primary historical sources cited by New York and its amici.
In this series, I plan to address several key points of contention among the parties about what history shows about the right to carry, including the Statute of Northampton and its American analogues and the so-called “Massachusetts model” of regulating individuals carrying firearms in a threatening manner through a surety system. I also will address the historical arguments made in the amicus brief filed by former Judge Michael Luttig, who surprisingly to many supports the State of New York in this case.
At the outset, however, I will begin by emphasizing the overwhelming evidence that during the
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