New paper on Second Amendment, available at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2805105
The Right to Arms and the American Philosophy of Freedom
George Mason University School of Law
July 5, 2016
Heritage Foundation, First Principles [Forthcoming]
George Mason Legal Studies Research Paper No. LS 16-29
People who do not understand why they should defend the right to arms are not likely to be its most effective defenders, and ignorance about the philosophy underlying our free institutions is among the least excusable failings of public intellectuals. Conservative pundits constantly complain about the erosion of individual liberty by bureaucratic government, about the enervating effects of the nanny state, and about the suffocating atmosphere of euphemisms and repressed resentment imposed by the political correctness police. If they had a better understanding of John Locke, William Blackstone, Cesare Beccaria, Alexis de Tocqueville, and every one of our founding fathers, these opinion leaders would not display an effete abhorrence of what Krauthammer calls “America’s frontier infatuation with guns.” Our nation’s founding philosophy was not infected with some silly romanticism about guns or an outmoded frontier mentality. It was based on the reality of human nature and on reason, neither of which has changed since the eighteenth century.
Keywords: Bill of Rights, Constitution, federalism, firearms, Heller, militia, political theory, right to bear arms, Second Amendment, self-defense