In 2003, the American Enterprise Institute hosted a seminar on the Second Amendment in its Washington DC headquarters.

The four panelists were:

Prof. Robert Cottrol, George Washington School of Law:

Prof. Akhil Amar, Yale Law School:

Prof. Sanford Levinson, University of Texas School of Law:

and Dr. Goldwyn, a resident scholar at AEI (there are some problems with the video here -- still working on them).

The panel included two of the biggest names in American constitutional law -- Sanford "Sandy" Levinson, and Akhil Amar, and they and Prof. Cottrol argued for an individual rights view of the right to arms. I personally liked Amar's presentation the best, simply because I like new ideas. His theme (backed by Cottrol and then Levinson) is that the original Second Amendment was an individual right, but one of a "communitarian" purpose. That is, the core idea envisioned the entire people being armed to deter, or in last resort, overthrow a tyrannical national government. (I believe Amar somewhat overdoes it, and that there was an initial purpose relating to self-defense as the most fundamental of rights, but that he's right in that the primary purpose focused on mass opposition to national tyranny). In Amar's thesis the 14th Amendment (1868: forbids States to deprive citizens, inter alia, of the privileges and immunities of US citizenship, and has a legislative history with numerous condemnations of postwar State laws disarming black Union veterans so as to make them vulnerable to the Klan) changes this into the "quintessential personal right." The American right to arms is then clearly a right of individuals, acting alone, to resist individual criminal attack (and even that conducted by the States and State militias, who were enforcing most of the arms laws).

Click on the links for video of each. I had to compress the blazes out of each; size averages about 10 megs each as it is. I haven't had time to clean up the audio (which caught a lot of air-conditioning hiss).