Historians have argued for decades that the Second Amendment has nothing to do with the right to own a handgun nor even with the right to use a gun in self-defense. Nevertheless, a counternarrative—bolstered by the National Rifle Association—has triumphed in the popular mind and been codified to some extent in the Supreme Court’s ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), which said that the Second Amendment “protects an individual right to possess a firearm.”
used to be that the defense of Second Amendment rights was linked, at least
rhetorically, to the rights of hunters and outdoor enthusiasts, who worried
that gun laws might deny them their hunting rifles or the chance to engage in
target practice. That concern--always farfetched--has come to look rather
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