2A Book recommendation

I’m looking for book recommendations on the 2nd Amendment. I’ve been searching for some sort of objective history on the origins and interpretations of it. This has proven to be quite difficult. All of the books I’ve found, so far, seem to be agenda based or conclusion-first. They start with “this is the only correct way to understand the 2nd Amendment, and here’s a book to prove that the entire [insert political party] is full of idiots.”

My goal is to understand the whole. I’m not afraid of opposing viewpoints. I want to understand how we got to this schism in American politics and why different people believe the things that they do. I also want to understand the historical context in which the 2nd Amendment was crafted and ratified, as well as case law throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

As I said, I can’t find this. Perhaps it has yet to be written.


I have not seen much in the way of books on the Second Amendment books or any relating to 2A history. I would say a starting point is the Federalist Papers and the Anti-Federalist Papers along with other writings prior to the Revolutionary war by such writers a Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, Common Sense by Thomas Paine, Noah Webster, James Madison and I am sure there are others. These generally made comments about the citizens being so well armed that a standing army would have a chance to withstand them.

You also need to consider that the Bill of Rights applied only to the Federal government until the 14th Amendment was ratified on July 9, 1868. I have not seen any SCOTUS cases that even mention firearms before 1868 except a couple of patent cases and nothing involving 2A.

The first 2A case heard by SCOTUS was before the Court began selective incorporation of the Bill of Rights making them applicable to the states and said:

  1. The right to bear arms is not granted by the Constitution; neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The second amendment means no more than that it shall not be infringed by Congress, and has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the national government.
    United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542, 547, 23 L. Ed. 588 (1875)

The court later wrote:

It is undoubtedly true that all citizens capable of bearing arms constitute the reserved military force or reserve militia of the United States as well as of the states, and, in view of this prerogative of the general government, as well as of its general powers, the states cannot, even laying the constitutional provision in question out of view, prohibit the people from keeping and bearing arms, so as to deprive the United States of their rightful resource for maintaining the public security, and disable the people from performing their duty to the general government.
Presser v. People of State of Ill., 116 U.S. 252, 265, 6 S. Ct. 580, 584, 29 L. Ed. 615 (1886)

In more recent jurisprudence, the Court took the stance, while addressing the NFA, that 2A applied to a “well regulated militia:”

In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a ‘shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length’ at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument. Certainly it is not within judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment or that its use could contribute to the common defense. Aymette v. State of Tennessee, 2 Humph., Tenn., 154, 158.
4 The Constitution as originally adopted granted to the Congress power-‘To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions; To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.’ U.S.C.A.Const. art. 1, s 8. With obvious purpose to assure the continuation and render possible the effectiveness of such forces the declaration and guarantee of the Second Amendment were made. It must be interpreted and applied with that end in view.
The Militia which the States were expected to maintain and train is set in contrast with Troops which they *179 were forbidden to keep without the consent of Congress. The sentiment of the time strongly disfavored standing armies; the common view was that adequate defense of country and laws could be secured through the Militia-civilians primarily, soldiers on occasion.
The signification attributed to the term Militia appears from the debates in the Convention, the history and legislation of Colonies and States, and the writings of approved commentators. These show plainly enough that the Militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. ‘A body of citizens enrolled for military discipline.’ And further, that ordinarily when called for service these men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time.
United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174, 178–79, 59 S. Ct. 816, 818, 83 L. Ed. 1206 (1939)

It is interesting to me that since this opinion short barrel rifles and shotguns have become relatively common for both military and law enforcement!

The more well known recent decisions are of course Heller and McDonald. The Heller case is notable because it held:

Holdings: The Supreme Court, Justice Scalia, held that:
1 the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to keep and bear arms;
2 statutes banning handgun possession in the home violated Second Amendment; and
3 statute containing prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for purpose of immediate self-defense violated Second Amendment.
D.C. v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 128 S. Ct. 2783, 171 L. Ed. 2d 637 (2008)

But, since Heller is a federal enclave, it did not address whether 2A was applicable to the states. Then came the McDonald case which held,

Two years ago, in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 128 S.Ct. 2783, 171 L.Ed.2d 637, this Court held that the Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense and struck down a District of Columbia law that banned the possession of handguns in the home. Chicago (hereinafter City) and the village of Oak Park, a Chicago suburb, have laws effectively banning handgun possession by almost all private citizens. After Heller, petitioners filed this federal suit against the City, which was consolidated with two related actions, alleging that the City’s handgun ban has left them vulnerable to criminals. They sought a declaration that the ban and several related City ordinances violate the Second and Fourteenth Amendments. Rejecting petitioners’ argument that the ordinances are unconstitutional, the court noted that the Seventh Circuit previously had upheld the constitutionality of a handgun ban, that Heller had explicitly refrained from opining on whether the Second Amendment applied to the States, and that the court had a duty to follow established Circuit precedent. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, relying on three 19th-century cases— United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542, 23 L.Ed. 588, Presser v. Illinois, 116 U.S. 252, 6 S.Ct. 580, 29 L.Ed. 615, and Miller v. Texas, 153 U.S. 535, 14 S.Ct. 874, 38 L.Ed. 812—which were decided in the wake of this Court’s interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Privileges or Immunities Clause in the Slaughter–House Cases, 16 Wall. 36, 21 L.Ed. 394.

Held: The judgment is reversed, and the case is remanded.
McDonald v. City of Chicago, Ill., 561 U.S. 742, 130 S. Ct. 3020, 3021, 177 L. Ed. 2d 894 (2010)

You will notice in McDonald, that there are a number of earlier cases that did not incorporate 2A into 14A based upon the privileges and immunities clause. McDonald incorporated based upon 2A being a fundamental right.

As far as a true history, this would need to be followed through each state. I am attaching link to a short history of concealed carry in Kentucky. This is pretty up to date including Kentucky’s “Constitutional Carry” law that went in to effect in July of 2019.


The Founder’s Second Amendment. https://www.amazon.com/Founders-Second-Amendment-Independent-Political/dp/1566639719

How it came to be, how long it took, how arduous the fights were within Congress, yes, even back then, to get it done.

This isn’t some some modern-day discussion on what should be done going forward.

As to how this nation got split in half like this, I don’t think you’ll find it in a 2A book.

Start looking at the Vietnam protests. Start looking at LBJ’s legacy. Look at what Carter did when he established Dept. of Education.

I"m serious. Start with LBJ. Bring a barf bag. You’ll need it. Today’s riots / Antifa / BLM directly come from the aftermath of just about everything that man did while in office, half a century ago.

Were you a college student in the 50’s / 60’s? What were they teaching you then? Were the colleges spouting anti-American hate back then? Of course they were. I wasn’t there, but my friends parents’ were, and in the 60’s it was already being taught in the West-coast schools that America was evil, corrupt, racist, etc etc. Was being taught in Puerto Rico, too. UPR was / still is an Independentista / Communista school.

That’s where it all started: When Anti-American Communists / Marxists came here, escaping 30’s Germany, and started teaching that garbage here. 20, 30 years later, Vietnam protests. 50 years after that, Antifa / BLM.

Those Vietnam protesters? Turned coat on their own, got jobs, punched out a few kids, sent those kids to Commie school, and presto-bango, one or two generations completely brainwashed to think USA is the enemy. I hope they’re proud of themselves, they got their wish, just not immediately – they did manage to destroy the country, divide it, and dang near ignite a race war.

Enjoy your history. The more you learn the more you’ll reach for the barf bag. It may even reset your political compass.


Thanks, @MikeBKY . I didn’t necessarily mean that you had to write a book right here and now. :grin: But that’s a very thorough answer and I appreciate the time you took. I got confused on the U.S. v Miller case. I had always learned that as an important 4th Amendment ruling, but I guess “Miller” is a common name.

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Thanks for the link. I ordered a used copy and I’ll add it to my stack of “to read” books when it gets here.

Good point; perhaps the origins and early arguments are a different topic than how 2A is interpreted today. Certainly we’re not the same 13 colonies struggling to exist on the Atlantic coast.

I have a small book called 'The Second Amendment Primer".

There is also “Guns, Crime and Freedom” by Wayne LaPierre, probably not specific to your topic however.


Quade, there is a better way to answer your question–watch the documentary on social media called “The Social Dilemna”. It explains how social media is built to make money off us by sending us down ‘rabbit holes’ based on our browsing history, etc. So, if you lean right, you get the right’s take on everythign. If you lean left, you get the left’s.
Right now, we basically live in two separate realities, both controlled by our news feed and browsing habits.


I’ve seen it and I would recommend that to anyone.
I can see how that’s relevant to the topic. I suppose I’m looking for more for an objective origin and development history. It’s hard for anyone to be objective about current events.


I think the Miller case you are speaking about is 425 U.S. 435 (1976), where the Supreme Court held that a defendant forfeits Fourth Amendment protection in any information knowingly revealed to a third party. In Miller, the Court held that Miller had no Fourth Amendment protection bank records since all the information is willingly divulged to the bank.

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That’s the one, yes. We get 4A training all the time. Interestingly enough, I don’t recall getting 2A training at all, unless we’re talking about the Lautenberg Amendment. I’m sure that has something to do with cases lost due to 4th Amendment violations. I doubt there are comparatively many cases where an offender walks free because someone violated his 2nd Amendment rights.

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This was a great book