Intellectual Underpinnings of the (Conflicting) Individual Right, States' Right and Collective Right Views of the Second Amendment

Don B. Kates, Jr., Pacific Research Inst. for Public Policy

The Amendment embodies the twin views of classic liberal political philosophy that self-defense is the cardinal natural right and that only an armed people can preserve their liberties. In contrast, the states' right theory is inconsistent with the Constitution and the "collective rights" theory is an oxymoron because a "right" which no one can enforce on behalf of him/herself or the people collectively is not a right at all.

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Updated 05/20/2006