Argument: The 2nd Amendment was influenced by the English Bill of Rights to confer an individual right to bear arms
The English Declaration of Rights (1689) affirmed freedom for Protestants to 'have arms for their defense suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law.' When Colonists protested British efforts to disarm their militias in the early phases of the Revolution, colonists cited the Declaration of Rights, Blackstone's summary of the Declaration of Rights, their own militia laws, and Common Law rights to self-defense. While British policy in the early phases of the Revolution clearly aimed to prevent coordinated action by the militia, there is no evidence that the British sought to restrict the traditional common law right of self-defense. Indeed, in his arguments on behalf of British troops in the Boston Massacre, John Adams invoked the common law of self-defense. Some have seen the Second Amendment as derivative of a common law right to keep and bear arms; Thomas B. McAffee & Michael J. Quinlan, writing in the North Carolina Law Review, March 1997, Page 781, have stated "... Madison did not invent the right to keep and bear arms when he drafted the Second Amendment—the right was pre-existing at both common law and in the early state constitutions."
- General Clement. Oral arguments in DC vs. Heller. March 19th, 2008 - "I think I would point precisely to those elements of the English Bill of Rights as being relevant.
- But what I was about to say is I think what is highly relevant in considering the threshold question of whether there's an individual right here at all is that the parallel provisions in the English Bill of Rights that were borrowed over included the right to petition and the right to keep and bear arms. Both of those appear with specific parallel references to the people. They are both rights that are given to the people.
- And as this Court has made clear in Verdugo-Urquidez, that's a reference that appears throughout the Bill of Rights as a reference to the entire citizenry."