That's the question before the US Supreme Court in District of Columbia, et al v. Dick Anthony Heller, which has put the question of the Second Amendment before the court for the first time in more than half a century.
In an amicus brief filed with the Court 15 historians argue that the DC law is consistent with the Amendment's history.
They argue that the Founding Fathers intended to protect the collective right to own arms not an individual's right. "Though Anglo-American political tradition did indeed value the idea of an armed populace, it never treated private ownership of firearms as an individual right," they argue.
The signers include: Jack N. Rakove, Saul Cornell, David T. Konig, William J. Novak, Lois G. Schwoerer, Fred Anderson, Carol Berkin, Paul Finkelman, R. Don Higginbotham, Stanley N. Katz, Pauline R. Maier, Peter S. Onuf, Robert E. Shalhope, John Shy, and Alan Taylor.
Clayton Cramer: Pro-gun researcher asks for help in determining which of the signers endorsed the work of Michael Bellesiles HNN Hot Topics: Gun Control HNN Feature: Historians as Activists