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AND PRESS; Island Press SH EA RWATER BOO KS the environmental pubily her sv Astir ,..;1-co % Lto wr-rpmr AVAILABLE IN BOOKSTORES OR www.islaildpress,org Call 1.800.828.1302 “Char Miller, in most readable prose, has softened the hard, and largely unjustified, edge between the two giants of American And in doing so, Miller has afforded Pinchot longdelaved recognition as a seminal contributor to the environmental movement”. lack Ward Thomas. prokssor, Univasity btu l` of Molina, atul U,S_ For e fq “Char ;’tiller ‘s lively, insightful account of the life and world of American forester Gifford .Pincliot fills a vitally important gap in envi ronmental and conservation history Anyone captivated by , the issues and controversies surrounding the preservation and development of the nation’s natural heritage should read this engaging, carefully researched biography.” Carolyn Nerchant, Uuivzmity of California, iktiteky. author ott f iti A tillimrwatc-r Book Cloth; 528.00 v-5501-822-2 Sourec:1:0 Making pf Aitodern s.’.-. ,………o.o4ao9aomk,. . According to Rakove, what was debated, both at the convention and then in the first Congress with regard to the Amendment, was the respective competence and authority of the national and state governments. At no time, he argues, was it ‘a debate about a truly individual rights to possess arms. Even if one accepts this view, what precisely follows for the interpretation of the Amendment? For example, if one understands the purpose of the Amendment as being to authorize states to maintain militias, does the national government retain control over state militias, including an all-important limitation of the right to keep and bear arms only to those deemed fit by Congress to do so? Any such reading turns Madison into a kind of “trickster,” an illusionist who, seemingly responding to the concerns of those anti-Federalists who insisted on the Second Amendment, actually provided them nothing. Or does the amendment grant exclusive power to the states over the crucial issues of membership and control of the conditions of access to firearms themselves? The problem with this reading, from a contemporary perspective, is that this would seemingly acknowledge, at least as a matter of original understanding, far too strong a limit on national power. It would, for example, make questionable attempts by the national government to ban possession of any weapon that is legal in the possessor’s state \(though of course, given contemporary understandings of the Commerce Clause, Congress at the very least could ban the interstate shipment IV. How important is 1787-91 anyway? What about 1868? The historians’ critique of the revisionist model argues, in our understanding of the complexities and nuances of 18thcentury thought and politics. What the “anti-revisionists” insufficiently recognize, though, is that the debate about the “right to keep and bear arms” is about far more than the Second Amendment, whatever its importance may be. Many states at the time included in their state constitutions some kind of right to bear arms without making any reference to militias at all. Or consider the fact that the notorious Dred Scott case, in which the Supreme Court deprived blacks of the very possibility of being citizens of the United States, included as part of the analysis the assertion that the “privileges leges and immunities of citizens” included the right “to keep and carry arms wherever they went.” Thus Chief Justice Taney apparently viewed the right as a personal one, attaching to all citizens regardless of their membership in ‘an official militia. The unthinkability of blacks enjoying that particular constitutional right, which necessarily attaches to the status of citizen, helps to explain, according to Taney, why they cannot enjoy that status. By 1866, when Congress proposed the Fourteenth Amendment granting citizenship to all persons born or nat uralized in the United States and including protection of the “privileges or immunities” of such citizenship, the right to bear arms seems to have been understood as a right of a cit izen, protected against oppressive regulation by both nation al and state governments. \(It was, that is, one of the Bill of Rights now “incorporated” as a limit on state, as well as fewer than 13 additional “Reconstruction Republicans” who offered “odes to arms in speeches in the Thirty-ninth Congress.”The analysis of the “right to bear arms” was pro foundly individualistic, not least because the advocates of Reconstruction were rightly aware that state governments could no longer necessarily be trusted to engage in accept ably impartial, nondiscriminatory regulation, especially where the rights of newly freed former black slaves and their white sympathizers were concerned. For them, the right to continued on page 36 1/18/02 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17