Nicholas J. Johnson

Volume 70, Issue 3, 717-70
Roughly a decade has passed since the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller and the battle over the basic legitimacy of the right to keep and bear arms continues. A significant segment of the academy, the Bar, and the judiciary remains skeptical about the constitutional bona fides of the individual right to arms. A primary source of that skepticism is the view pressed most forcefully by professional historians that the Second Amendment had nothing to do with individual self-defense and at best protects an “individual militia right” that has no practical application in modern America. This Article will show that the historians’ account is deeply flawed historiography and a dubious rebuttal to the individual rights view because it ignores the role of limited power in the understanding of rights under the original Constitution.