Paul Finkelman


In this Article, Finkelman argues that the purpose of the Second Amendment was to protect the right of the states to maintain militias and arm them if the national government refused to do so. This Article, based on the debates over ratification and over the Bill of Rights, shows that some extreme Antifederalists wanted the national government to guarantee a personal right to own weapons. But, as the evolution of the Amendment and the final text of the Amendment make clear, Madison and the other Federalists who totally dominated Congress at the time thoroughly rejected these demands for the protection of a personal right to bear arms. Indeed, to have done so would have undermined other clauses in the Constitution and the general notion of creating a stable national government that could not be overthrown by a minority of disgruntled citizens.

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