Americans are deeply divided over the Second Amendment; while some passionately assert that it protects an individual's right to own guns, others counter that it does no more than protect the right of states to maintain militias. In his comprehensive history of this bitter controversy, constitutional historian Saul Cornell—director of the Second Amendment Research Center at the John Glenn Institute—proves conclusively that both sides are wrong. Cornell shows that the Founders understood the right to bear arms as neither an individual nor a collective right, but as a civic right—an obligation citizens owed to the state to arm themselves so that they could participate in a well-regulated militia. The modern debate, he reveals, has its roots in the 19th century, during America's first and now largely forgotten gun violence crisis, when the earliest gun control laws were passed and the first cases on the right to bear arms came before the courts.
"This book can help provide much-needed context and background in light of the national debate over gun control, regardless of your personal views on the right to bear arms."—Vermont Bar Journal