Freedmen, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Right to Bear Arms, 1866-1876

Freedmen, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Right to Bear Arms, 1866-1876

Freedmen, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Right to Bear Arms, 1866-1876

Freedmen, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Right to Bear Arms, 1866-1876

Synopsis

The only comprehensive study ever published on the intent of the framers of the 14th Amendment and of Reconstruction-era civil rights legislation to protect the right to keep and bear arms from State infringement.

Excerpt

The same two-thirds of Congress that passed the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution also adopted the Freedmen’s Bureau Act, which protected the “full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings concerning personal liberty, personal security, and … estate …, including the constitutional right to bear arms.” Does the Fourteenth Amendment, which protects the individual rights to personal security and personal liberty from state violation, incorporate the Second Amendment, which declares that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed,” against the states?

In three cases decided in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the United States Supreme Court stated in dicta that the First, Second, and Fourth Amendments do not directly limit state action, but did not rule on whether the Fourteenth Amendment prohibited state violation of the rights declared therein. Since then, the Supreme Court has held that most Bill of Rights freedoms are incorporated into the Fourteenth Amendment, but has done so with little historical analysis and no discussion of the intent of the framers of that amendment. Yet despite the specific declaration of two-thirds of Congress in the Freedmen’s Bureau Act, me Court has failed to address whether the Second Amendment was likewise incorporated.

The first local and state prohibitions in U.S. history on firearms possession by the citizenry at large — the Morton Grove, Illinois handgun ban . . .

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