Additionally, Senator Murphy, juris doctor, could review the works of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story. From his Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (1833):
The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered as the palladium of the liberties of a republic, since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers, and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.
Even the relatively rare nineteenth state Supreme Court decisions that upheld laws regulating knives or the carrying of weapons were careful to acknowledge the purpose of the right to keep and bear arms. Aymette v. State (Tenn. 1840) acknowledged that the right, derived from the English Bill of Rights (1689), was so that the people, “being armed, they may as a body rise up to defend their just rights, and compel their rulers to respect the laws.”
The same decision, by the way, held that only military weapons were protected — and this is next to the most restrictive gun-rights decision of the entire nineteenth century.
A more expansive view of the right comes from the Texas Supreme Court in Cockrum v. State (Tex. 1859), which held that both the Second Amendment and the Texas Constitution’s arms provision had at least one aspect in common:
The object of the first clause cited, has reference to the perpetuation of free government, and is based on the idea, that the people cannot be effectually oppressed and enslaved, who are not first disarmed.
These are not isolated examples; my book For the Defense of Themselves and the State has hundreds more.
Perhaps the insurrectionary model of the Second Amendment is out of date today, but I don’t think so. If anything, the twentieth century — the century of multiple genocides, often by the governments of the victims — is a stronger argument for a population able to fight back than it was in 1789. To pretend, as Senator Murphy does, that the insurrectionary model of the Second Amendment is crazy or ahistorical? That is crazy and ahistorical.