Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Hatcher, Laura

Second Advisor

Clinton, Robert


In 2008, the Supreme Court announced its decision in the landmark Second Amendment case, D.C. v. Heller. In its decision, the Court construed the scope of the right to bear arms for the first time. To that end, the Court found that the right to arms is an individual right, unconnected with military service. In this essay, I use the opinion of the Court and the dissents thereto as a lens by which to view the history and historiography of the right to bear arms, as well as the Supreme Court's jurisprudence on the subject. In the course of this analysis, I argue that there are numerous problems with the Court's reasoning, as well as that of the dissents. Further, complications and ambiguities in the historical record have contributed to the misunderstanding of the original meaning of the Second Amendment and its appropriate interpretation as part of the Constitutional text. I argue that the proper interpretation of the Second Amendment is one that construes the right as robust and individual, worthy of its place in the Bill of Rights, but certainly subject to reasonable regulation.




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