99 Yale L.J. 637 (1989-1990)
The Embarrassing Second Amendment

handle is hein.journals/ylr99 and id is 647 raw text is: Comments
The Embarrassing Second Amendment
Sanford Levinsont
One of the best known pieces of American popular art in this century is
the New Yorker cover by Saul Steinberg presenting a map of the United
States as seen by a New Yorker. As most readers can no doubt recall,
Manhattan dominates the map; everything west of the Hudson is more or
less collapsed together and minimally displayed to the viewer. Steinberg's
great cover depends for its force on the reality of what social psychologists
call cognitive maps. If one asks inhabitants ostensibly of the same cities
to draw maps of that city, one will quickly discover that the images car-
ried around in people's minds will vary by race, social class, and the like.
What is true of maps of places-that they differ according to the perspec-
tives of the mapmakers-is certainly true of all conceptual maps.
To continue the map analogy, consider in this context the Bill of
Rights: Is there an agreed upon projection of the concept? Is there even
a canonical text of the Bill of Rights? Does it include the first eight, nine,
t Charles Tilford McCormick Professor of Law, University of Texas Law School. This essay was
initially prepared for delivery at a symposium on Interpretation and the Bill of Rights at Williams
College on November 4, 1988. I am grateful for the thought and effort put into that conference by its
organizer, Professor Mark Taylor. It was he who arranged for Wendy Brown, then a member of the
Williams Department of Political Science, to deliver the excellent response that can be found follow-
ing this article. A timely letter from Linda Kerber contributed to the reorganization of this article.
Two long-distance friends and colleagues, Akhil Reed Amar and Stephen Siegel, contributed special
and deeply appreciated insights and encouragement. Finally, as always, I took full advantage of sev-
eral of my University of Texas Law School colleagues, including Jack Balkin, Douglas Laycock, and
Lucas Powe.
I should note that I wrote (and titled) this article before reading Nelson Lund's The Second
Amendment, Political Liberty, and the Right to Self-Preservation, 39 ALA. L. REV. 103 (1987),
which begins, The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution has become the most em-
barrassing provision of the Bill of Rights. I did hear Lund deliver a talk on the Second Amendment
at the University of Texas Law School during the winter of 1987, which may have penetrated my
consciousness more than I realized while drafting the article.

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