An introduction and guide to this series of posts is available here. The corpus data can be downloaded here. Important: Use the “Download” button at the top right of the screen.
New URL for COFEA and COEME: https://lawcorpus.byu.edu.
Having dealt in my last post with how bear arms was ordinarily used and understood in 18th-century America, I’ll turn in this post to the question of how it was used in the Second Amendment.
I’ll begin by considering how the right to bear arms would most likely have been understood during the Founding Era. As I will explain, I think it would have been understood to mean something along the lines of ‘serve in the militia.’ I’ll then ask whether that conclusion is changed by the fact that the right to bear arms is described in the Second Amendment as belonging to “the people.” My answer will be that my conclusion is unchanged.
My next post will wrap up my examination of the Second Amendment by considering whether my interpretation is ruled out by the fact that the Second Amendment deals not simply with the right of the people to bear arms but with their right to keep and bear arms. And again, the answer will be no.