Second Amendment

In recent years, the U.S. Supreme Court has handed gun rights advocates a string of stunning victories, ruling for the first time in American history that the Second Amendment of the Constitution guarantees an individual’s right to own a gun. Yet the Second Amendment remains the most misunderstood and explosive part of the Bill of Rights, which has grown only more contentious after a series of horrific mass shootings. Now, Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, presents a provocative, often surprising, and much-needed history of this brief, but momentous, constitutional provision in The Second Amendment: A Biography (Simon & Schuster; May 20, 2014; $24.00).

Recent Research

  • The first generation of Second Amendment scholarship focused on a single question: Does the Second Amendment protect an individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense, or a collective right connected to the maintenance of a well-regulated militia? Now, after the Supreme Court resolved that question in District of Columbia v. Heller, we are in the midst of a second generation of scholarship. This article describes the arc of Second Amendment jurisprudence and research, and introduces a new round of articles about this important constitutional provision.

    May 18, 2017
  • Public perceptions often motivate policymakers. But what is the role of perceptions in defending regulations challenged as violating constitutional rights? First and Second Amendment doctrine provide a nuanced answer to that question, sometimes categorically rejecting and other times permitting shaping perceptions as a valid reason to regulate. This article explores evolving doctrine and explains why shaping some perceptions – like the perception of safety – may have a more legitimate role justifying firearm regulations than speech regulations.

    May 18, 2017

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