One of the most dangerous doctrines to infiltrate libertarian thinking is the idea the Bill of Rights doesn't apply to the States. Conservatives, fearful that too much "social freedom" will lead to disaster have claimed states are immune from things such as the First Amendment. In the name of "state's rights" they argue that separation of church and state is a fiction, at least at that level of government. Ditto for rights like freedom of speech. Surprisingly, they often do a complete about-face when it comes to the Second Amendment. But legal scholar Stephen Halbrook debunks this theory.
He looks at what it means to take civil rights seriously, especially the right to bear arms in the years following abolition of slavery. By quoting legislative debates, Congressional hearings on Ku Klux Klan violence, and newspapers and law books of the time, constitutional scholar Stephen Halbrook shows that both supporters and opponents of the Fourteenth Amendment (1868) believed it protected ALL Bill of Rights guarantees, especially the Second Amendment, from infringement by the states.
From the Freedmen's Bureau Act of 1866 to the Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Cruikshank (1876), Halbrook paints a vivid portrait of a political and legal system grappling with the true meaning of civil rights.
Trusting ex-slaves to own firearms was, by any definition, the cutting edge in true belief in civil rights,¯ Halbrook writes. It remains to be seen whether contemporary society will accommodate the same rights of freedmen that Framers of the Fourteenth Amendment sought to guarantee.ā€¯
Although Halbrook concentrates on the right to keep and bear arms, he also includes a comprehensive analysis of the general topic of the relationship between the Bill of Rights and the state governments after the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Cited by both the U.S. Supreme Court in its landmark Heller decision (2008) and the Washington Supreme Court in State of Washington v. Christopher William Sieyes (2010) as the leading account of the relationship between the Second Amendment and the states during Reconstruction, Halbrookā€™s insightful narrative will help a larger audience better understand why earlier generations of Americans viewed the right to bear arms as essential for securing civil rights. Paperback, 256 pages, list price $22.95. Currently not listed by Amazon. Our price, $17.95.