Handgun Prohibition and the Original Meaning of the Second Amendment

One of the purposes of this Article will be to sketch out at least some of the very substantial limitations on the right of individuals to keep and bear arms suggested by the historical evidence. First, however, the controversy between the individual right and the exclusively state’s right views must be resolved. The evidence to be examined must include: the literal language of the second amendment; the history of its proposal and ratification; the philosophical and historical background that gave rise to the Founders’ belief in “the necessity of an armed populace to effect popular sovereignty”; and the contemporary understanding of the second amendment. This Article will then consider the amendment’s subsequent judicial interpretation, and the question of its incorporation against the states, before returning to constitutional limitations on the right to keep and bear arms.