A growing body of scholarship claims that the Second Amendment was intended to enable individuals to exercise their natural right to self-defense against violence. In this Article, Heyman shows that this view is based on a misunderstanding of the natural rights tradition, as reflected in the works of Locke and Blackstone, the post-Revolutionary state declarations of rights, and the debates over the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Natural rights theory held that, when individuals entered society, they largely gave up their right to use force against others in return for the protection that they received under the law. And while the people retained a right to resist and over- throw governmental tyranny, this was a right that belonged not to private individuals but to the community as a whole. In this way, Heyman argues, the natural rights tradition provides more support for a collective right than for an individual right interpretation of the Second Amendment.
Steven J. Heyman,
Natural Rights and the Second Amendment,
Chi.-Kent L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.kentlaw.iit.edu/cklawreview/vol76/iss1/8