Our Right to Bear Arms: A History of America’s Most Debated Amendment

Few deny the importance of the 2nd Amendment, either as a right or its impact on American society. But in the wake of two of the deadliest mass shootings in our nation’s history–and another tragedy on July 4th–Americans have been forced to ask themselves: Is the 2nd Amendment absolute? And did the Founding Founders intend it to be?

On July 21, the U.S. Capitol Historical Society continues our series on the U.S. Constitution by analyzing the history, politics, and laws affected by America’s most debated Amendment. We’ll discuss, among many topics, the Revolutionary War and Constitutional Convention, the gun reform law just passed by Congress, and the recent Supreme Court ruling on laws that restrict the public carry of firearms. We will also discuss the 3rd Amendment, which prohibits the forced quartering of troops.

Our featured speakers for this timely conversation are the Co-Directors of the Duke University Center for Firearms Law, Professors Joseph Blocher and Darrell A.H. Miller. The mission of the Center is to support reliable, balanced, and insightful scholarship on firearms law. Blocher and Miller are the co-authors of The Positive Second Amendment: Rights, Regulation, and the future of Heller. Their scholarship reveals the common misconceptions about the 2nd Amendment, including what it forbids, what it permits, how it functions as law, and how it distorts the gun debate and America’s constitutional culture.