Sun 10 Sep, 2006 06:41 am
Some excerpts from the writings of Dr. Stephen Halbrook are very enlightening;
(Dr. Halbrook is an eminent scholar of constitutional history
and a successful trial attorney):
"St. George Tucker, the first major commentator on the Bill of Rights
(NEW YORK TIMES v. SULLIVAN, 376 U.S. 254, 296-97 ),
explained the Second Amendment as follows:
'The right of self-defense is the first law of nature.... Wherever ...
the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or pretext
whatsoever, prohibited, liberty...is on the brink of destruction.'" [ emfasis added ]
Dr. Halbrook observes:
"In his concurring opinion in DUNCAN v. LOUISIANA 391 US 145 (1968)
Justice Black recalled the ... words of Senator Jacob M. Howard in
introducing the [14th] amendment to the Senate in 1866:
'The personal rights guaranteed and secured by the first eight amendments
of the Constitution such as...the right to keep and bear arms....
The great object of the first section of this amendment
is to restrain the power of the States and compel them at all times to respect these
great FUNDAMENTAL guarantees.'...
The same two-thirds of Congress which proposed the 14th Amendment
also passed an enactment declaring that the FUNDAMENTAL rights
of 'personal liberty' and 'personal security' include 'the constitutional right to bear arms.'
Freedmen's Bureau Act §14, 14 Stat. 176 (July 16th, 1866) [emfasis added]
"No court has ever considered Congress' declaration,
contemporaneously with its adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment,
that the rights to personal security and personal liberty include
the 'constitutional right' - i.e., the right based on the Second Amendment-
'to bear arms.'
Until now, this declaration in the Freedmen's Bureau Act has been
completely unknown both to scholars and the courts." Dr. Halbrook also
cites the finding of Congress in the Firearms Owners' Protection Act that:
"The conclusion is thus inescapable that the history, concept, and
wording of the second amendment to the Constitution of the United States,
as well as its interpretation by every major commentator and court
in the first half-century after ratification, indicates that what is protected
is an individual right of a private citizen to own and carry firearms in a
peaceful manner." Dr. Halbrook states that:
"In recent years it has been suggested that the Second Amendment
protects the 'collective' right of states to maintain militias, while it does not protect
the right of 'the people' to keep and bear arms. If anyone entertained
this notion in the period during which the Constitution and Bill of Rights
were debated and ratified, it remains one of the most closely guarded secrets
of the eighteenth century for no known writing surviving from the period
between 1787 and 1791 states such a thesis."
Six years after Dr. Halbrook wrote those words,
the Supreme Court explicitly supported him in US v. VERDUGO 11O S.Ct. 1O56 (1990)