In 1776, Pennsylvania declared: “That the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves, and the state.” Vermont copied that language in its constitution, which explicitly abolished slavery. Massachusetts and North Carolina adopted their own versions.
When the states debated adoption of the Constitution without a bill of rights in 1787-88, Samuel Adams proposed the right to bear arms in Massachusetts’s ratification convention. The Dissent of the Minority did so in Pennsylvania, and the entire New Hampshire convention demanded recognition of the right.
There was no connection to slavery in any of these historical antecedents.
Stephen P. Halbrook
June 25, 2018
The Second Amendment Had Nothing to Do with Slavery
[The background for this is that a certain professor, Carl T. Bogus, has been peddling the fiction that the Second Amendment was about keeping slaves from rebelling. In 1998 it was an open claim. More recently it is more of a suggestion. Halbrook explains why the story Professor Bogus has been telling is, as you might expect, totally bogus.—Joe]