Courtesy Dean Weingarten

If you want to understand how the United States came to have the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights, David Hardy’s book Origins and Development of the Second Amendment may be the best place to go. I’ve read numerous books and articles about the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Some have been short, others hundreds of pages. David T. Hardy’s slim book gets it done. This is surprising, because . . .

the book was originally published in 1986. That said, the second edition includes sections on the D.C. v Heller case on McDonald v. Chicago. The slender volume now has 111 pages, 16 more pages than the original 95.

[I was in Panama in 1986, when the Internet was just starting to form. I had an account on MILNET, one of the early precursors of the Internet, but it was limited to official email. So I missed Hardy’s book.]

The work is a masterpiece. It concisely explains the origin of the Second Amendment from a thousand years ago to present day (well, 1986).  Joyce Lee Malcolm does as well in her works, but she covers the topic in considerably greater detail. Hardy supplies the information in short, easily digested bites.

I learned facts that I knew, for which I’d lost the sources. I was happy to reacquaint myself with the Virginia law that required colonists to bring their arms to church; a 1752 English court ruling that guns could not be seized on the pretext of hunting regulation, because guns were useful for self-defense; an English historian thought that French peasants were enfeebled because, unlike the English, they were forbidden arms. This in 1476.

The first edition is still available on Amazon for $36.81; used copies are available for a few dollars worth of shipping. The Second Amendment Foundation has the hardcover first edition available for $15.00, a very good deal.

If you wish to purchase the Second Edition, it is now available on as well. If you attend a Gun Rights Policy Conference, you may be able to pick one up for free.

©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
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30 Responses to Must Read: Origins and Development of the Second Amendment

  1. Bought my copy for my firearms literature collection. Which also includes A Rifleman Went To War and The Bullets Flight From Powder To Target.

  2. The 2nd Amendment is no more up-for-discussion than abortion rights. If the 2nd Amendment, a Constitutional Right, and a PRE-CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT (a right that even this nation’s Constitution defers to) is amendable by the common a-hole. Then Abortion means that someone can kill you at will with a shopping cart [if that’s all that’s handy].

    • Let’s not trip over ourselves to explain it, define it, let’s instead, wear our bones in the endeavor of making those opposed to STFUAH.

    • If Hillary, Bernie or Bloomberg become President (or their running mate VPs…see 12th Amendment), they will stack the SCoTUS with “progressives.” While a respectable judge, like Clarence Thomas, has said Roe v Wade is stare decisis (translation from Latin: Set in stone because the country needs stable rules), I doubt if the leftist would do the same for Heller and McDonald.
      Work—hard—for the most conservative candidate…even if it’s the Donald. And keep an eye on the Veeps…the 12th Amendment and all.

  3. Professor Hardy is one of the giants in the defense of the Second Amendment.
    He’s also known as a prime author of the Firearms Owners Protection Act of 1986, a huge landmark in the fight to restore the Second. When he writes about it, he knows exactly whereof he speaks.
    His modestly is the only thing that exceeds the depth of his scholarship on gun rights and gun laws.

  4. Great, never heard of this book, but will get it now! The trope that the individual right to self-defense is some modern invention of gun rights proponents is a popular canard that is quite easily destroyed by citing the appropriate scholarship.

  5. It might be a great book, but the morons who really need to read it and sop it up never will.
    Of course you have the Statists who could care less and pursue their goals of Dictatorship and worship of the Collective State regardless.

  6. I’m a (retired) lawyer. I do not claim any special expertise in Second Amendment matters, However, unlike some lawyers, I can read. If 2A doesn’t protect my right to own a gun, then it doesn’t do anything at all. And if it doesn’t do anything at all, then why did the Founders draft it and why did the states ratify it?

    Sorry, leftards, but the Founders, who you despise as old white men, were a lot smarter than you. Had they been smarter still, all the leftards would be in prison where they belong. But then again, while they were brilliant, the Founders weren’t omniscient. They never expected that the US would harbor so many traitors.

    America is a country founded by geniuses and run by idiots.

  7. The Second Amendment is easy to understand one it is recognized that the People have to be armed in order to form the Militias that are necessary to the security of a free state. And in order for the People to be armed, it is necessary that the federal government be prohibited from infringing on the right to keep and bear arms. The issue in the modern day is that people to day think of the Federal Government as the Supreme Sovereign, and that the States and the People are subject to that sovereignty, exactly the reverse of the intent of the opening clause of the Constitution, a state of affairs that was a creature of and has existed since the end of the Civil War.By eliminating a right of secession from the Union, the Federal Government established by force of arms the individual sovereignty of the several States.

    • Forget? Hell no. In the next War Among the States, we’ll have the advantage in arms production. And old guys who can drop a deer from 300 yards, and really don’t care whether they die today or in a year.

    • And in order for the People to be armed, it is necessary that the federal government be prohibited from infringing on the right to keep and bear arms.

      Actually Mark N., we have to take it even further: all governments must be prohibited from infringing on our right to keep and bear arms.

      Violent criminals, criminal syndicates, private corporations, cities, counties, and states have all, at one time or another, used force to infringe the rights of a human being or a group of human beings. As the Good People defending our unalienable rights, we never know who or what entity may oppose us. Thus we must be able to bear arms in order to defend ourselves from attacks from any entity — including entities that are NOT the federal government. For that reason the Second Amendment says that our right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed … and purposely omits the federal government as on the only entity that shall not infringe.

      Remember, the United States Constitution explicitly says in the Tenth Amendment,

      The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

      Since the Second Amendment does not define who is prohibited from infringing on our right to keep and bear arms, it applies to all levels of government. And the “power” or the right to keep and bear arms is reserved to the people — you and I.

      • If you want to be strict about the grammar, since it doesn’t give a limit to “shall not be infringed”, then it means NO ONE can infringe it, government, church, corporation, club, property owner — no one at all.

        • Roymond,

          The United States Constitution effectively creates a legal trust which specifies the federal government and state governments as the administrators of the trust and We the People as the beneficiaries of that trust. As all trusts do, the U.S. Constitution defines the limited duties and powers of the administrators as well as the benefits for the beneficiaries. For those reasons, the limited duties and powers of the United States Constitution apply to the administrators (government entities) of the trust and, by definition, do NOT apply to We the People.

          Having said all that, this raises a fascinating legal question regarding corporations and their officers. Corporations and their officers are legal entities whose existence, legal status, and “powers” are a function of the very governments defined as administrators of the ultimate trust — the United States Constitution. That being the case, does that mean corporations are constrained to the same limitations as state and federal governments? If they are (and I cannot see any reason why corporations would not be limited), then the Second Amendment would also apply to corporations! That means a corporation, like General Electric or Kraft Foods, could not legally ban firearms in the context of their operations.

          And before anyone dismisses this last point, just ask yourself three questions:
          (1) Can a city legitimately, legally, and righteously ban all firearms? The obvious answer should be “NO” because they are a government entity under the Second Amendment.
          (2) What is the exact legal entity that we call a “city”? The answer is a corporation.
          (3) Why would the Second Amendment apply to some corporations and not others? I believe the simple and correct answer is that the Second Amendment would apply to ALL corporations.

          Let that sink in for a while.

  8. the second amendment is not hjard to understand if you ever had an English class. the comma’s are there for a reason . they are used when ideals or subjects are changed in a sentence. armed militia(one ideal) coma the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed (is the second ideal. lawyers go take an English class.

  9. Dave Hardy is a friend, a terrific lawyer, and a great advocate for the 2nd Amendment as well as the entire Constitution of The United States of America.

  10. I read Joyce Lee Malcolm book on English gun laws and how we got the second amendment, when I started getting into guns several years ago. Her book is outstanding. Now I know why the founders used the term “arms” instead of gun in the constitution, or what Obama calls “that paper”.

  11. how does states like new york or nj and mass get away with denying ccw,especially in new work where i live.i have had a premise/resident pistol lic for yrs,but when you go down to 1 police plaza in nyc and want to obtain a ccw,and they ask you the reason,you say for self protection,they tell you thats not a good enough reason.question when a legal taxpaying american citizen wants a ccw,who our they to deny me a ccw,when we the people our the real government.and the constitituion 2nd amendment says shall not be infringed.and more important what can a legal american citizen do about it.and yes i,m a nra life member.and do email and phone call all my local politicans,who our charles schummer kristen gillbrand and grace meng.and our there law suits going on for this matter.

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