Monday, July 7, 2014, 7:30 – 8:45pm

Michael Waldman: ‘The Right to Bear Arms’

Downstairs at Town Hall; enter on Seneca Street. $5.

© Adrian Kinloch
Civics, Media Library

Listen Here: 

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Gun control is a highly debated topic, but how many of the arguments are based on the actual Constitution?  In The Second Amendment: A Biography, NYU’s Michael Waldman looks at the history of this “misunderstood provision,” highlighting the sway political parties have on our modern understanding of “the right to bear arms.” Waldman examines how the creation of the law, subsequent court decisions, and other historical factors have turned this Amendment “upside-down and inside-out.” Waldman is President of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s School of Law.

Presented by: Town Hall, The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, and University Book Store, as part of the Civics series. Series supported by The Boeing Company, the RealNetworks Foundation, and the True-Brown Foundation. Series media sponsorship provided by The Stranger and KUOW.
Learn more: About the author.

This entry was posted in Civics, Media Library and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. Zeke
    Posted July 7, 2014 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    Actually, the standard established by the US Supreme Court pertaining to the National Firearms Act of 1934 includes specifically any weapon that might be used by a soldier on a battlefield. Its justification for upholding a ban on sawed off shotguns was that there was no battlefield infantry use for that weapon. And “arms” would include anything not falling under the definition of “ordinance”, such as cannons and hand grenades. And BTW, .50 caliber sniper rifles are legal to own, as are .50 caliber black powder buffalo guns from the 19th century.

    Your argument that this isn’t the 1700s scores no points either. The 1st Amendment was also written in the 1700s when there were no radio and TV news shows, no internet, no desktop publishing, and no copy machines. Do you think, therefor, that we can legitimately limit free speech not delivered in person on the street corners, and writings not printed on a Gutenberg press?

    The right to keep and bear arms is one of the ten rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights. The purpose of the Bill of Rights is to plainly state that certain rights are inherent in our status as human beings, and that no government can be allowed to suppress those rights. An interpretation of the 2nd Amendment that cites an individual right to own and bear arms is consistent with that purpose. Interpretations of that amendment that purport to limit its scope to a militia is inconsistent with that purpose. The establishment and management of a militia has nothing to do with securing the rights of human beings that are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”.

  2. LW
    Posted July 8, 2014 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    No Free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.” – Thomas Jefferson, Proposal Virginia Constitution.

    The Constitution shall never be construed….to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms” – Samuel Adams, Debates and Proceedings in the Convention of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

    “Americans have the right and advantage of being armed, unlike the people of other countries, whose leaders are afraid to trust them with arms.”- James Madison Federalist Papers 46

    “to disarm the people – that was the best and most effectual way to enslave them.” – George Mason

    Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.- Patrick Henry

One Trackback

  1. […] gun ownership in America, it doesn't outline how those guns are to be kept. The right to keep and bear arms is a controversial topic that sparks lively debates in homes and public forums around the country. […]

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

Connect with Facebook


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

  • Other Civics, Media Library Events

    Health Matters: The Human-Animal Health Connection

    Thursday, October 30, 2014, 7:30 – 8:45pm

    Downstairs at Town Hall; enter on Seneca Street. $5.

    David Rothkopf: America’s Vulnerability Crisis

    Monday, November 3, 2014, 7:30 – 8:45pm

    Downstairs at Town Hall; enter on Seneca Street. $5.

    Hillary Brown: Creating Sustainable Public Infrastructure

    Tuesday, November 4, 2014, 6:00 – 7:00pm

    Downstairs at Town Hall; enter on Seneca Street. $5.

  • member button-02

  • email-tile

  • Calendar

  • Town Hall News

    • Partner Profile: Early Music Guild

      When David Brewster founded Town Hall Seattle in 1998, he envisioned a home for small and mid-sized arts organizations—specifically, Seattle’s Early Music Guild, which became one of Town Hall’s first presenting partners.

    • Hearing Loops

      Town Hall’s commitment to accessibility is at the forefront of what we do, and this season features a new step toward inclusion: the installation of hearing loop technology in the Great Hall and downstairs, to enhance the hearing loss community’s experience at Town Hall events.

    • Staff Spotlight: Edward Wolcher, Curator, Community Programs

      Edward Wolcher started out as a house manager at Town Hall five years ago, and this season he’s putting his passion for political activism, literature, and art to work in the newly-created position of Curator, Community Programs. In his new role, he’s focused on working with audiences and community organizations and fostering dialogue and engagement […]