THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF THE SECOND AMENDMENT University of California at Davis Law Review

For the great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie ¾ deliberate, contrived, and dishonest ¾ but the myth ¾ persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.

-John F. Kennedy[1]


The Second Amendment is unique. No other constitutional provision has lived so small a life in the law while looming so large in the realms of policy, politics, and popular culture. Among the Bill of Rights, only the Third Amendment, which prohibits the quartering of troops in homes, has received less judicial attention.[2] Annotations of all the cases that have dealt with the Second Amendment take up a mere ten pages in the United States Code Annotated, compared, for example, to 1452 pages for First Amendment cases.[3] In the history of the republic, the United States Supreme Court has handed down only three opinions dealing directly with the Second Amendment,[4] the last in 1939,[5] and no federal statute or administrative regulation has ever been invalidated on Second Amendment grounds. (More)