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The extraordinary events of the past year challenge us to assess anew many of our institutions, laws, and freedoms. This essay series addresses one piece of that broader assessment: gun rights and regulation.

While some commentators have concluded that the recent tumult rationalizes gun rights and justifies loosening gun restrictions, the scholars in this series consider other perspectives. They explore whether expansive gun rights have contributed to the very instability we have witnessed, noting that armed civilian groups often warp American traditions, misconstrue framing era philosophy, defy the rule of law, and threaten democratic norms. They seek to put defensive gun use into context and examine how gun carrying can suppress speech and other freedoms. They probe the complicated relationship between guns and race, policing, domestic violence, and republican government.

In the coming year, the Supreme Court will decide a major Second Amendment case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Corlett, and the debate over gun rights and regulation will likely intensify. We hope that this series informs and improves that debate.

— Eric Ruben, Assistant Professor, SMU Dedman School of Law, and Fellow, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law

The Brennan Center gratefully acknowledges the Joyce Foundation for their generous support of our work.

Photo Illustration: George Fry, Daniel Slim, Barbara Alper/Getty