The rise and fall of the Second Amendment “collective right”

My recent article for America’s 1st Freedom traces the rise and fall of the theory that the Second Amendment is not an individual right, but instead is a “collective right,” which, like “collective property” in a communist country, supposedly belongs to everyone collectively, but in fact belongs to no-one. The theory was created by a federal district judge in 1935, formally named by the New Jersey Supreme Court in 1968, and became popular among lower federal courts during the next quarter-century.

Historical and textual analysis made it increasingly clear that the theory was completely implausible, and it was unanimously rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller. In that case, all nine justices agreed that the Second Amendment right was individual, while they disagreed about its scope.


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