Michael Waldman, President, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law; Author, The Second Amendment: A Biography
Mark Follman, Senior Editor, Mother Jones – Moderator
The right to bear arms might be the most controversial, volatile, misunderstood provision of the Bill of Rights.Waldman will recount the raucous public debate that has surrounded the amendment from its inception to the present. The amendment was written to calm public fear that the new national government would crush the state militias. As the country spread to the Western frontier, violence spread too, but through it all, gun control was abundant. The present debate picked up in the 1970s – part of a backlash to the liberal 1960s and a resurgence of libertarianism. In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled for the first time that the Constitution protects an individual right to gun ownership. Waldman argues that our view of the amendment is set, at each stage, not by a pristine constitutional text, but by the push and pull, the rough and tumble of political advocacy and public agitation.