Sunday, June 29, 2008

Some DC v. Heller background

As I've mentioned previousoy, the direct hero of DC v. Heller is BobLevy, the Cato-affiliated lawyer who financed and directed the case. Almost every decision he made -- I talked to him by phone during most of the process -- turns out to have been a good one. But much of the intellectual groundwork was laid by various scholars -- some acadmically affiliated, some independent -- who have painstakingly constructed the case for the understanding that the Second Amendment protects an individual right, not a collective right that can only be exercised in the context of an organized militia. The founders understood full well that one of the reasons for citizens to be armed was to provide an effective deterrent to tyrannical domestic government. But gun control (actually people control) was long the preferred cure-all for crime among the better sort, and a generation of academics grew up with the militia-only version drummed into them.

Creating a comprehensive case for an individual-rights version of the Second Amendment being the more authentic interpretation has involved some heavy intellectual lifting.

It must have been 10 years ago that I attended a seminar put on for Academics for the Second Amendment, organized by the inestimable Don Kates. There I learned a great deal more about the work of Stephen Halbrook, along with Joyce Malcolm, Gary Kleck, and, of course, Don Kates himself, as an editor and writer, and many others.They were precursors to more recent lawyers and law profs making various aspects of the case, including Eugene Volokh and Randy Barnett, who were cited in Scalia's majority opinion.

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