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Copyright (c) 1995 Tennessee Law Review Association, Inc.
Tennessee Law Review

BOOK REVIEW: GUN CONTROL AND THE CONSTITUTION: SOURCES AND EXPLORATIONS ON THE SECOND AMENDMENT

SPRING, 1995

62 Tenn. L. Rev. 813

Author

Joyce Lee Malcolm *

Excerpt

Americans living a century ago would have been amazed to find their right to have weapons included in any series entitled Controversies in Constitutional Law. Both before and after the American Revolution there had been agreement that citizens had a right to be armed. Indeed, in 1803 St. George Tucker, Virginia Supreme court justice and friend of Thomas Jefferson, dubbed that right the "true palladium of liberty," a sentiment echoed thirty years later by Joseph Story, the great Supreme Court justice and constitutional scholar. 1 It was, Story added, the people's protection against "the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers." 2 Today Robert Cottrol, editor of Gun Control and the Constitution, 3 finds the Second Amendment, with its pledge that the "right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed," 4 like a "somewhat disreputable member of a family" 5 while articles in learned journals label it "embarrassing" 6 and "terrifying." 7 Its slip from grace stemmed from fear of armed violence. New York's 1911 Sullivan Law, 8 the nation's first strict gun control act, was meant to protect the law-abiding from the anarchist movement, labor unrest, and masses of new immigrants. Other fears would follow -- gang warfare in the 1920s, riots and assassinations in the 1960s. Many people began to doubt the wisdom of a right to be armed. Fears of government excess were replaced by fears of irresponsible citizens, and the price of disarmament -- the ...
 
 
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