Securing Civil Rights

Securing Civil Rights (1998, 2010)

(Originally published as Freedman, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Right to Bear Arms, 1866-1876)

Whether newly-freed slaves could be trusted to own firearms was in great dispute in 1866, and the ramifications of this issue reverberate in today’s “gun-control” debate. This is the only comprehensive study ever published about the intent of the Fourteenth Amendment and of Reconstruction-era civil rights legislation to protect the right to keep and bear arms. Indeed, this is the most detailed study ever published about the intent of the Fourteenth Amendment to incorporate and to protect from State violation any of the rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, even including free speech. Paradoxically, until the Supreme Court’s decision in McDonald v. Chicago (2010), the Second Amendment was virtually the only Bill of Rights guarantee not recognized by the federal courts as protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.

Contents of the Book

  • The Civil Rights and Freedmen’s Bureau Acts and the Proposal of the Fourteenth Amendment
  • Congress Reacts to Southern Rejection of the Fourteenth Amendment
  • The Southern State Constitutional Conventions
  • The Freedman’s Bureau Act Reenacted and the Fourteenth Amendment Ratified
  • Toward Adoption of the Civil Rights Act of 1871
  • From the Klan Trials and Hearings Through the End of the Civil Rights Revolution
  • The Cruikshank Case from Trial to the Supreme Court
  • Unfinished Jurisprudence

Securing Civil Rights Cited as Authority

Securing Civil Rights was cited as authority by the Office of Legal Counsel, U.S. Department of Justice, “Whether the Second Amendment Secures an Individual Right” (2004).

Noteworthy Reviews

“Those who would limit the right to keep and bear arms to members of state militias have never come to grips with the intentions of the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment to protect blacks and unionists from southern militias (and others) by enforcing their personal right to arms. Stephen Halbrook presents a brief on behalf of this forgotten history — a history that no serious student of the Constitution can ignore.”

Randy E. Barnett, Austin B. Fletcher Professor, Boston
University School of Law, Author,
The Structure of Liberty:
Justice and the Rule of Law