I will be teaching an online course: “The Right to Bear Arms: A History”

Minuteman Statue in Lexington, Mass. (flySnow / iStock / Getty Images)

This is just a little reminder to let you know that from the end of January next year, I will be teaching an online course on the history of the Second Amendment. I’ll do this with a new startup called Chapter, which describes their system as “like a book club, but a lot more fun.” (You don’t need any special apps; it’s just a website.)

The course will last four weeks and cover the gamut, starting in colonial times and ending today. Because people are busy everything will be “asynchronous” – meaning you can participate whenever you are free, rather than at times set by me. Here’s a look at the four weeks:

  1. Pre-revolutionary America: We will explore how the right to own and bear arms came about with the colonists of Great Britain, before penetrating into the heart of American law.
  2. The founding era: Why was the Second Amendment added to the federal constitution, and what were the founders’ intentions by including it? What did the militias have to do with a “people’s” right?
  3. After the civil war: The Second Amendment took on new meaning after the Civil War, especially during the Jim Crow era. You will learn how the right to own and bear weapons has been changed by the 14th Amendment and the efforts of many states to resist that change.
  4. The second amendment today: The Second Amendment has taken center stage in the 21st century, after a long period in which it has been largely ignored. We will discuss contemporary American jurisprudence, Heller decision and political rebirth of this most fundamental right.

Each week, I will provide a reading list (which could be articles, reviews, videos, podcasts, or main source documents), along with ideas and tips on each. There will be a community forum where you can discuss each topic, as well as an ongoing Q&A where I will answer questions.

The course will start on January 24, 2022. You can register here. Hope to see some of you there!

Martin E. Berry