I should stress that this is a small thing compared to the very solid body of evidence that's already been uncovered in this direction. Still, I came across it, and thought I'd mention it. This is from Judge John Reed's Pennsylvania Blackstone (1831), "A Modification of the Commentaries of Sir William Blackstone, with numerous alterations and additions, designed to present an elementary exposition of the entire Law of Pennsylvania." Reed was the President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of the Ninth Judicial District of Pennsylvania, and the founder of the oldest law school in Pennsylvania, the Dickinson School of Law. Here is his elaboration of the passage in Blackstone that discusses the English right to have arms:
5. A fifth right of every citizen, "is that of having arms for his defence." By the constitution of the United States, "the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed;" and by that of Pennsylvania, "the right of citizens to bear arms in defence of themselves and the state, shall not be questioned." These provisions also, were no doubt intended, to avoid a recurrence of the restrictions, on this subject, found in the English laws. By the forest and game laws, in England, the right of keeping arms is effectually taken away from the great body of the people; and, in another place in the Commentaries, it is said, "that the prevention of popular insurrections, and resist[ance] to government, by disarming the bulk of the people, is a reason oftener meant, than avowed, by the makers of such laws.
So Judge Reed is clearly treating the Second Amendment as (1) being based on the English right to have arms (something that Justice Stevens' Heller dissent largely denies), (2) being similar in scope to the Pennsylvania right to bear arms in defence of themselves as well as of the state (again something that Justice Steven's dissent seems to deny), and (3) not being dependent on membership in a government-defined militia (since the right is "of every citizen," and is a "right of keeping arms" that the government may not "take away from the great body of the people").
Related Posts (on one page):
- An 1869 Data Point on the Second Amendment:
- Two More Early References to the Right To Bear Arms,
- An 1831 Source Supporting the Individual Rights View of the Second Amendment:
- An 1830 Source Casually Assuming the Individual Rights View of the Second Amendment:
- Another Early 1800s Source Supporting the Individual Rights View of the Second Amendment: