Right to Arms in Pennsylvania History

Dave Kopel talks about a law review article that will be appearing in the Widener Law Journal next year, coauthored with Clayton Cramer, on the history of Pennsylvania’s right to bear arms provision in the 1776 constitution. I covered a bit of the constitutional history of Pennsylvania’s right to bear arms provision back in September, for those who might have missed it. The 1776 version read:

That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the state; and as standing armies in the time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; And that the military should be kept under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.

Seems hard to believe that anyone could read “defence of themselves” as being purely the right to participate in a militia. While it’s not as direct and to the point as the 1790 and subsequent state constitutions, it’s still pretty crystal clear for anyone who hasn’t already made up their mind about there being no real individual right.

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